Do paleo foods give you nightmares?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 29, 2012 at 10:36 AM

Just woke up from a vivid nightmare. It's not unusual for me to have several nightmares a month - this isn't something new that started when I began Paleo eating. At one point I narrowed the trigger down to onions and garlic (I had onions with my eggs last night. I've googled this and found many others with my curiosity. However, I am interested in this from a paleo perspective - if it is garlic or onions that are causin me nightmares and bad sleep, does that mean I am intolerant to them or that my body thinks they are poison?

Does anyone else find that certain foods cause them nightmares? Do you continue eating the food or chalk it up to your body telling you something,and making a decision to avoid that food?



on April 02, 2013
at 05:24 PM

omega 6s make my dreams much more vivid i have noticed.


on April 11, 2012
at 04:40 PM

I wasn't at the time. I started taking ZMA and Melatonin shortly after posting this question. My dreams are definitely bizarre now, but no nightmares.



on March 31, 2012
at 07:50 AM

Are you perchance taking any supplements, specifically magnesium citrate?

Frontpage book

Get FREE instant access to our Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!

9 Answers

best answer


on March 29, 2012
at 12:13 PM

Wow! I had never heard of this until you mentioned it. Then I Googled it, and sure enough.... I'm seeing some people say that it's the raw onions and garlic, but not the cooked ones. Also seeing some say that it's not always nightmares, but vivid dreams of all types.

I don't think it means your body thinks these foods are poison. I think it just means that your brain chemistry is particularly sensitive to a chemical (or set of chemicals) in Allium species that can enhance dreams.

I would suggest more experimentation. Keep a sleep diary, and note your dreams for a few weeks. If they're always nightmares after onions and/or garlic, I would of course back off.

But if it's vivid dreams of all types, it might be worth it to judiciously use the onions and garlic from time to time. There's some thought that dreams are a tool our brains use to help us learn about and adjust to the world: I'm wondering if eating the onions/garlic in times of stress would enhance dreaming in a way that would help one through the problems at hand.

Only you can decide whether that experiment is worth it, though!


on March 29, 2012
at 11:38 AM

Vivid dreams are well known side effects of both ketosis and ZMA supplementation.



on March 29, 2012
at 03:03 PM

Eating paleo-foods hasn't given me vivid dreams ever.

I have had nightmares of Pizza Soldiers from the SAD dimension torturing me by force feeding me milk, though.



on April 02, 2013
at 11:59 PM

Interesting, I always find that having high blood glucose levels triggers some very wild dreams and nightmares. Hypothyroid problems along with high glucose levels can also lower the heart rate which reduces the amount of oxygen to the brain so you can experience sleep paralysis and other weirdness that you find hard to wake up from. Bad dreams before waking I seem to experience when my insulin levels rise in the morning and my blood levels drop.

I never eat garlic, I have had some really nasty images come to mind on that, but that might have been due to the massive amount of cheese I used to put on my bolognese sauce. As long as I don't eat anything with glucose,lactose or fructose after 6pm I don't dream anywhere near the amount I used to and never have nightmares. I have never thought about onions although they do contain quite high sugars, especially when baked. yum.

Cheese, yoghurt, cream, too much yam, potato and all fruit carbs if eaten too close to bed time always coincide with my vivid or memorable dreams and can give me a thick fuzzy brain when I wake up in the morning.



on April 02, 2013
at 07:32 PM

Onions and garlic are considered toxic/poisonous in some cultures, especially when raw. These cultures who don't eat garlic or onions say that it makes people stupider/affects the brain.

I honestly don't eat that much onion or garlic anymore, especially garlic.

I am not going to look for links right now, but just run a google search for "onions and garlic poisonous" or something and I'm sure you will find some interesting stuff.


on April 02, 2013
at 05:16 PM

That's a really interesting topic. Been eating paleo for about two months. The last 4 weeks, which are also the ones when I have eaten 99,99% paleo, have been quite annoying. I keep having the weirdest nightmares I've ever had in my life. They make me so nervous that I actually end up waking up and it takes some time for me to breathe normally again and find some peace.

Almost ever eat any onions or garlic at night though. No medication, no supplements... It's a problem that is beginning to seriously bother me, always been kinda insomniac (probably high cortisol) and precisely at the time when I'm seriously trying to improve my sleep quality , awful nightmares keep making me freak out every night.

I wonder if anybody else has experimented weird dreams with any other paleo foods besides garlic and onions.


on November 04, 2012
at 02:26 AM

Onions ALWAYS give me weird, extremely vivid, and very memorable dreams. It took a while for me to figure it out, but I kept a food journal until I realized what it was. Sometimes its horrible nightmares, but I really enjoy vividness of the dreams, so I'll occasionally eat some onions before sleeping on purpose. I've been asking around, my therapist had never heard of it before, but I think its just a chemical reaction some people's brains have to whatever is in onions. Nothing to worry about, vivid dreaming is part of your REM cycle, which is the sleeping cycle in which your brain repairs itself. Its actually a good thing when you dream a lot, as people who can't or don't dream are often subject to dangerous mental disorders.

Happy sleeping.



on April 28, 2012
at 02:16 AM

In Mexico, they say don't eat avocados before you go to bed, as they will give you nightmares. Don't know why or how, but if I eat avocados, I get crazy dreams too.



on March 29, 2012
at 02:59 PM

WOah I just had a night of crazy dreams after dropping my food standards for one day while traveling.

I had a bowl of chicken and guacamole, seemingly innocuous but I think the chicken had some marinade that was full of soy/wheat/sugar/ who knows what. Then I had vanilla ice cream with dark chocolate sauce (at the ghiardelli factory). That was damn tasty but I had 1. a sugar high, 2. horrible, interrupted, sleep, and 3. crazy/vivid dreams.

It's ALL about food quality for me.

Answer Question

Get FREE instant access to our
Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!