The study, conducted as a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled investigation, found that participants who ingested 240mg of vitamin B6 before bed for five consecutive days had increased scores in a composite measure of dream vividness, bizarreness, emotionality, and color.
Past research on vitamin B6’s effect on dream memory recall is limited. One small double blind study of 12 participants that was completed in 2002 that looked into the link between vitamin B6 and dream activity. The authors of this past study concluded that vitamin B6 supplementation before bed had a dose-dependent effect of increasing dream salience.
While research on the subject of vitamin B6 and dream activity may be scarce, anecdotal evidence suggests that poor dream recall may be a sign of vitamin B6 deficiency. The Natural Medicines database (2015), for example, lists improving dream recall as one of the reasons people supplement diets with vitamin B6.
The most recent study done by researchers from the University of Adelaide's School of Psychology in southern Australia had a total of 100 participants between the ages of 18 and 40 (68 women, 31 men, 1 transsexual) complete the study.
"This is the first time that such a study into the effects of vitamin B6 and other B vitamins on dreams has been carried out on a large and diverse group of people," the study's lead author, Dr. Denholm Aspy, said.
Participants were divided into three groups, a placebo, vitamin B6, and vitamin B complex group. Capsules given to the vitamin B complex group contained a range of other B vitamins, except vitamin B2 (riboflavin) which was not used because it can cause brightly-colored urine that could reveal to participants that they were in the B complex group.
Dosages were split over two capsules in all three groups, each capsule containing a half-dose, and participants were instructed to consume two capsules at a time. Participants were also given journals to log details of their dreams over the five-day period.
Prior to taking the supplements, researchers noted that the participants rarely remembered their dreams, but many reported improvements in dream recall by the end of the study.
Hypothesis 'partially supported'
“The hypothesis that participants in the B6-only group would have significantly greater general dream recall than participants in the placebo group was partially supported,” researchers wrote.
“Although the differences in Dream Recall Frequency and Dream Count were non-significant, scores on the more sensitive measure of Dream Quantity were significantly higher in the B6-only group compared with the placebo group.”
In addition, there were no significant differences in the B6-only group compared with the placebo group in time awake during the night, sleep quality, or tiredness upon waking.
The study authors noted that more research is needed, preferably in a sleep laboratory to investigate the effects of vitamin B6 on dream recall further.
"Further research is needed to investigate whether the effects of vitamin B6 vary according to how much is obtained from the diet. If vitamin B6 is only effective for people with low dietary intake, its effects on dreaming may diminish with prolonged supplementation," Aspy added.
Source: SAGE journals of Perceptual and Motor skills
Published online, https://doi.org/10.1177/0031512518770326
Effects of Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) and a B Complex Preparation on Dreaming and Sleep
Authors: Denholm J. Aspy, et al.