Apparently, this nutritional intake side of the dream story isn’t as easily explained as I had been hoping. However, Lauren, you did help me by finding a piece of this elaborate mystifying puzzle!
So, tryptophan, an amino acid (found in Lauren’s British cheese), is the precursor to serotonin (as well as a number of other NTs). Aside from it being the only substance that can be converted into serotonin, it is completely dependent on vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)…ring a bell? Vitamin B3 (niacin) is another nutrient involved in tryptophan metabolism, which is closely related to folic acid and magnesium… making some connections yet?
Digging a little deeper (and bear with me), I found that Picolinic acid is metabolic product of tryptophan and a close relative to our friend B3. Ah hah! And yet, another piece of the puzzle uncovered! I found Zinc! Picolinic acid is very important in the distribution of zinc. Therefore, B6 or tryptophan deficiencies inhibit the absorption of zinc.
Back to the ZMA mystery:
Lucid dreams= Z+M+A(B6) = The amino acid Tryptophan is metabolized into serotonin. Vitamin B6 promotes this conversion, in turn increasing serotonin production. Essentially, the more B6 you take, the more Serotonin is produced, the more Melatonin is metabolized, and the more Zinc is absorbed. High amounts of B6 increase Magnesium retention which also promotes Serotonin production, helping to induce sleep. As you may all know, melatonin can be used as a sleep aid and it increases non-REM sleep. We also know through sleep deprivation studies if you prevent people from experiencing REM there is a rebound effect that lengthens and increases its frequency. More REM = more frequent, vivid, lucid dreams.
Perhaps this isn’t the whole story, so the saga continues…A puzzle takes teamwork, so all you Nancy Drews out there; let’s do some detective work! I’d really love to hear some of your thoughts!! Comment, please! 🙂