Let’s face it; our dreams can be downright weird, and totally inexplicable. But have you ever wondered why you dream the things you do? It turns out that what’s going on in real life can have a huge impact on your dreams. Here are the facts:

  • Smells can influence dreams. Studies show that sweet smells, like flowers, are more likely to cause sweet dreams. But, you can’t ward off nightmares by sniffing lavender oil before bed. The aroma has to be present at the start of a dream cycle.

  • Dreams protect sleep, which is why you can sleep through your alarm. According to Harvard Medical School psychiatrist Dr. Deirdre Barrett, our brain analyzes sounds, and gives priority to the ones that wake us up. But when we’re extremely tired, our mind works overtime to let us catch up on much-needed sleep. So, it may disguise the alarm as a police siren, or some other dream noise, that won’t wake us up.

  • Do spicy foods cause nightmares? Sleep expert James Catesby Ware says that spicy foods don’t cause bad dreams, but they do increase the chances you’ll remember them. That’s because we need to wake within five minutes of having a dream to remember it. And since spicy foods cause indigestion, we tend to wake up more often. So, we’re more likely to wake up near the end of a dream.

  • Scary movies DO give you nightmares! That’s because our brains take the things we experience just before bed, and incorporate them into our dreams. So, if you want more-pleasant dreams, skip the horror shows, and think about a few good memories when you turn out the light.