Wednesday, November 14, 2012

5-HTP: A Lucid Dreaming Supplement

In a previous blog post I relayed that I would be experimenting with several different supplements that are touted as being helpful for the struggling lucid dreamer in that they assist in establishing a proper brain environment for the likely occurrence of a lucid dream (read that post here).

The first supplement I have worked with is 5-HTP or 5-hydroxy-tryptophan. While many claims have been made about 5-HTP and its effects on the human body, its effectiveness as an anti-depressant seems to be the most substantiated. Although, there does seem to be some evidence that it assists in the treatment of Fibromyalgia, anxiety, mild sleep disorders and weight loss. The web is full of information regarding the typical mainstream uses of 5-HTP, so I will not delve into the matter further here. What I do wish to discuss in a little more detail is the use of 5-HTP as a lucid dreaming supplement (LDS).

Apparently, one of the most common side effects noted by those who ingest 5-HTP is increased dream vividness and bizarreness. This is not totally surprising, however, since 5-HTP is a precursor to serotonin and research has correlated increased serotonin levels with dream vividness. How does dream vividness and bizarreness help to establish dream lucidity? Well … rather indirectly. It is thought that if the dream is bizarre enough, the dreamer might be lead to question the reality of his/her experiences and realize that a dream is in progress, thereby gaining lucidity.

A more direct effect of taking 5-HTP for the lucid dreamer may very well be an increased amount of REM period during the latter hours of sleep, thereby increasing the amount of possible dream time that one can work with. It is believed that this increased REM period is the result of REM suppression during the early stages of sleep due to increased serotonin levels in the brain (as a result of taking 5-HTP prior to the onset of sleep) thereby resulting in a REM rebound effect. It is also believed that the increase in serotonin levels caused by 5-HTP help facilitate lucidity by heightening rational thought and self-awareness during REM sleep.

So, did 5-HTP assist me in becoming lucid at any point during my two week experimentation? The answer is a resounding “NO.” I took 100 mg of 5-HTP before retiring to bed every day for two weeks and experienced none of the effects discussed above. I did not experience any increase in dream vividness, bizarreness or REM rebound, not to mention lucidity. This is not to say that 5-HTP is ineffective as a lucid dream supplement. It may be that 5-HTP works better when combined with other lucid dreaming supplements. It may also be that my trial period was too short to bring about the desired effect or it may simply be that my physiology prevents 5-HTP from working its magic. Regardless, I will assuredly repeat my experiments with this supplement again in the future. But for now, it is on to the next supplement.

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