I was following a post on the Marks Daily Apple Forums, on people who were having much more vivid dreams than usual after going paleo/primal. This echoed similar experiences I was having, of having much more vivid, long and relatively normal dreams, which measurably get more frequent as I go ‘more’ paleo. So I started thinking, could it be, that eating a paleo diet like our ancestors, we are somehow activating parts of our brain which are used for dreaming?
Antti Revonsuo hypothesised in his 2000 paper “The Reinterpretation of Dreams: An evolutionary hypothesis of the function of dreaming. Behavioral and Brain Sciences“ that humans evolved the ability to dream as way to rehears threats safely as we slept, so that when we are awake and put in a similar position, they could react in a ‘better’ way. For example, say you are a caveman and you had a dream of a huge woolly mammoth chasing you. In your dream you had the choice of trying to outrun the mammoth or scale the rocks. You chose to run and the mammoth beat the living hell out of you and you wake up panting in a pool of sweat. What a nightmare, but you realise you are ok, it was just a dream and go on with life. A few weeks later a wooly mammoth is pissed because you tried to take him down so you could feast on his flesh, you have the choice to run or scale the rocks. What would you do?
Of course we have many crazy dreams also that make no sense one way or another. That is why I assume we also evolved the ability to forget a lot of our dreams. However, ever since going paleo, my dreams are a lot more vivid, and more often than not reflect real world issues going on in my life, so they are a lot harder to forget. I also think just because we can’t remember the dreams, doesn’t mean our brain hasn’t stored the results somewhere in our subconscious, ready to be used in a quick reflex moment when adrenalin is high.
So is my brain being rewired by eating paleo? Eating paleo can reshape my body to a more hunter-gatherer composition, so why wouldn’t it also reshape the way I think? And if it can re-ignite my ability to dream like I was evolutionary supposed to, what other pre-historic traits can it unlock?
If you read Dr Emily Deans awesome blog, Evolutionary Psychiatry you will see how a evolutionary/paleo diet can help with a whole host of modern day mental health problems, such as depression and ADD, so the link is clearly there and interestingly I have read numerous threads on forums, where people eating paleo, especially men, find themselves a lot more aggressive, competitive and acting ‘alpha’. This is normally thought to be the weaning off the sugars and carbohydrates, and the improvement of testosterone levels, but could it be we are turning on parts of our brain that have not seen daylight since the agrarian revolution?
It’s interesting, and I will now more closely follow my mood and dreams.
Has anyone else started dreaming more or noticed any new habits since going paleo?