Aug 06, 2012 4:09PM

Oyster Words: How To Enhance Your Dreams

From our 100th issue — a series of sleep experiments involving cheese, mugwort and other substances that affect your dreams.
Image by P.A.M — their contribution in our 100th issue.

I'm an overachiever when it comes to sleep. I must secretly be a teenage boy — I'll sleep for 14 hours a day, given the chance. I have ten alarms on my iPhone just to wake me up. But even though sleep is my primary hobby, I don't usually dream — or, at least, remember my dreams — and when I do it's pretty basic, like the stick-figure equivalent of my subconscious trying to express itself. Given this context, it seemed fitting for me to undertake a series of sleep experiments, road-testing substances that supposedly affect your dreams.

Cheese
The fungal cultures in cheese contain biologically active amines — such as tryptamine and tyramine — that have psychoactive properties and are thought to affect dreams (more like TRIPtamine, amirite?) According to a 2005 study by the British Cheese Board (yes, this exists), different cheeses produce different dreams. For example, Cheddar encourages dreams about celebrities. (Naturally, I jumped at the chance of Ryan Gosling infiltrating my subconscious.)
How I did it: In the study, the participants consumed 85 grams of cheddar. I upped this dosage to 100 grams because I like to live on the edge.
What happened: I went to bed with a stomach ache. Sadly, Ryan Gosling did not arrive shirtless on a horse at sunset to whisk me away. Despite this, I had a pleasant dream about the invention of a wearable hug — a plush bathrobe-type garment that made the wearer feel loved and appreciated. I woke up with a stomach ache.
The verdict: I was initially pissed off that I didn't have a celebrity-themed dream, but the more I think about it, this wearable hug is sounding like it needs to be materialised. I'll definitely 'do' cheese again. Not only is it a delicious bedtime snack, but I want to see what other amazing items I will invent.

Mugwort
A herb popular in ancient times, used for healing, protection against evil spirits, psychic ability, and lucid dreaming.
How I did it: Obtaining the mugwort involved going into a Happy High Herbs store, which was embarrassing in itself. The sales assistant, who had dreadlocks, told me it was good for "astral travelling, man." I purchased a bag of dried mugwort and, as instructed, boiled two tablespoons of the marijuana-like herb in two cups of water for ten minutes. I then drank the 'tea', which tasted like it must be good for you (ie gross).
What happened: I had a vivid dream that my computer desktop was so cluttered I couldn't even see what image was set as the wallpaper. All the icons melted into one to form this Magic Eye–type thing. Then I opened Firefox and there were hundreds of tabs open. I frantically tried to close them but they were infinite. It was very stressful.
The verdict: It wasn't an ideal first experience on mugwort, but I've done some reading on its positive effects (on internet dream forums, no less) and it seems like it's worth pursuing further, especially seeing as I have a whole bag of it left. (Also, my housemates now think I practice witchcraft).

Imovane
A sleeping pill used to treat insomnia. Known as Zopiclone in the US.
How I did it: Painstakingly obtained 7.5 mg from a 'friend-of-a-friend' who was wearing sunglasses inside.
What happened: The hypnopompic state is the period between being awake and being asleep, and on the Imovane I was BLISSING OUT during this period. I have eight pillows on my bed, but it felt like I had eight MILLION pillows on my bed, akin to floating on a cloud. I don't remember the actual dream, though.
The verdict: An adverse reaction to sleeping pills is dysgeusia, more commonly known as an ass-like aftertaste. Because of this I wouldn't do it again, but it was fun while it lasted.

Overheating
The rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep is when the most vivid dreams occur. It's also when your body's temperature control is pretty crap. If your temperature is too high, your body will be overactive, and this can manifest in the form of nightmares. During REM sleep the muscles in your body become paralysed to stop you from physically performing a dream, and sleep paralysis is a fucked-up phenomenon that occurs when your mind is like, "I'm awake!" and your body is all, "Sucked in, I'm asleep." The paralysis can be accompanied by sensory hallucinations and out-of-body experiences (it has been used as an explanation when people think they've been abducted by aliens).
How I did it: Wore thermals and bed socks.
What happened: I had this terrible, hyperreal nightmare in which someone was trying to bust open my bedroom door. I could hear them tinkering with the lock and whispering that they were going to strangle me. Back in reality, someone had tried to break into my house a few weeks before, and during the sleep paralysis I couldn't stop thinking about this. I tried to scream but no sound came out. I started panicking, convinced I was going to die. I couldn't move, and felt this sensation on my neck, like a cold hand was touching it. I woke up covered in spit and sweat.
The verdict: Sleeping in an igloo with capsicum spray under my pillow for the rest of my life.

Words: Ingrid Kesa
Image: P.A.M

Ingrid Kesa is one of our favourite writers, which is why we hired her as our Web Editor and made her swear in blood that she will never leave us. Incidentally, her brother is a psytrance DJ, and if you would like to book him for your next birthday, drop us a line.
P.A.M. stands for Perks and Mini. They make rad clothes and other bits and pieces. They also happen to be very big in Japan.