One morning, you wake up and say to your roommate “Ugh, I had really weird dreams last night!”. To which he answers, “Oh yeah? What kind of dreams?”. You describe it, “I dreamt about ponies with wings galloping on a rainbow”. You’re waiting for the laugh that is sure to follow from your roomy, but it doesn’t come. Instead, he declares «That’s not surprising, with all the apple juice you drink before going to bed!”. You’re taken aback, and your roommate adds “Yeah man, it gives you strange dreams, I read that on the Internet”. Then, later in the day, even if you don’t believe it, you still Google it and that’s how you’ve found our article on this subject. And you ended up in the right place, Polysleep, the foam mattresses specialist, is also specialized in sleep issues, even as strange as the question of drinking apple juice before going to sleep. Discover everything you need to know about it here below!
But where does the idea that drinking apple juice gives you strange dreams come from?
Do you still think that believing in the assertion that drinking apple juice before going to sleep provokes weird dreams is the equivalent to believing there are alligators in the New York sewers? You’re both right and wrong, since unlike many urban legends, the idea of apple juice and its effects on sleep has a well-known origin.
The assertion that if you drink this beverage often intended for kids, you’ll dream about odd stuff comes from a study published in August 2006 in the International Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, authored by Thomas Shea, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Cellular Neurobiology and Neurodegeneration Research at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, in the United States. This study, sponsored by the U.S. Apple Association and Apple Products Research & Education Council, consisted in submitting three groups of adult mice (9–12 months old) and aging mice (2–2.5 years old) to three distinct diets: a standard diet, a nutrient-low diet and another diet also low in nutrients but supplemented with apple concentrate in the water. Among the mice, some had been selected for their susceptibility to develop symptoms similar to Alzheimer.
The result? The famous Dr. Shear observed that mice fed with the apple juice-supplemented diet showed an increased production of acetylcholine in their brain. This hard-to-pronounce molecule is in fact an essential neurotransmitter of the central nervous system, where it plays a vital role for the memory. We understand better now why apple juice could play an essential role among patients afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease, with the increased levels of acetylcholine in the brain that it could induce, which could slow the progress of this pathology. However, that’s still not a link to strange dreams for now. But we’re coming to that!
If there’s no link between apple juice and strange dreams, why are we talking about it then?
Just simply because acetylcholine seems to have more than one job in your brain! This molecule is present in great quantity in the hippocampus (no, not the horse-fish!) during the REM sleep cycle (for Rapid Eye Movement), also called paradoxical sleep phase. It’s during this sleep cycle that you’ll have more chance of dreaming about flying ponies, or more seriously, of having dreams that can be qualified as “intense”.
And during your REM sleep cycle, your hippocampus shows much higher activity than when you’re awake. The latter also seems to play a major role in enabling your episodic memory, by allowing you to remember for years that evening during which you “sharpied” your drunk friend’s face with a drawing of a sexual nature which we won’t name, by “replaying the scene” to you. And since this mechanism is strongly present in our dreams, the correlation seems obvious. Even so, this connection hasn’t been proven by science yet. So, for now, no official link has been established between apple juice and having weird dreams!
So, apple juice isn’t responsible for my weird dream of flying ponies?
Knowing that there is no actual scientific connection between drinking apple juice and strange pony dreams, the answer is “no” by default, for lack of proof in support of it. It must be said that the role of acetylcholine in the brain is very complex and that all its secrets have still not been uncovered.
Does this mean that nutrition doesn’t play a part in our sleep? Of course not. Caffeine which, as its name indicates, is found in coffee, has been the subject of extensive studies that have proven it takes between two to four hours to act after ingestion, and its effect is proportional to the ingested quantity. Caffeine fragments your sleep, makes it lighter and, especially, makes it harder to go back to sleep if you wake up in the middle of the night. In short, not great if you are working the day after. That’s why at Polysleep, we adhere to the following proverb, one that was scientifically proven: “After 5 p.m., you shall drink no coffee”!
Ultimately, at Polysleep, we always recommend going back to basics: to sleep well, nothing beats a good, comfortable foam mattress designed and made in Canada, just like all of our mattresses that you can order online on our website. And if you’re dreaming about flying ponies and rainbows, apple juice is certainly not responsible!