How To Control Your Dreams (While You Sleep)

Lucid dreaming is more than a way to be conscious while you sleep. Research suggests it could also help improve sleep quality...

Welcome to the positive corner of the internet. No one likes to feel tricked, especially about their health. That’s why every weekday, we make sense of the confusing world of wellness with quick tips designed to make you healthier in less than 5 minutes. If you were forwarded this message, you can get the free daily email here.

Today’s Health Upgrade

  • Beware of carb fear

  • As dangerous as obesity?

  • How to control your dreams

Arnold’s Podcast

Want more stories from Arnold? Every day, Arnold’s Pump Club Podcast opens with a story, perspective, and wisdom from Arnold that you won’t find in the newsletter. And, you’ll hear a recap of the day’s items. You can subscribe on Apple, Spotify, Google, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Beware of Carb Fear

Most diets recommend cutting carbs. But, if you care about your overall health (or weight loss that lasts), that could be a big mistake.

Research published in The Lancet from 58 clinical trials found that people who eat carb-based diets reduce their risk of diabetes, cancer, stroke, and heart disease by up to 30 percent.

But here’s the catch. This wasn’t just any type of carbs.

Those who saw the biggest health benefits ate the most fiber, with the sweet spot being about 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day. And if you’re keeping score at home, that’s about twice as much fiber as the average person typically consumes.

If you want to bump up your fiber, add the following to your diet:

  • Whole grains (which can include whole grain versions of bread and pasta with more than 4 grams of fiber per serving)

  • Fruit (high-fiber options include raspberries, blackberries, apples, avocado, kiwi, and pears)

  • Vegetables (broccoli, acorn squash, artichokes, Brussels sprouts, kale, beets, and potatoes)

  • Legumes (think beans and lentils)

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Oats

If you don’t love those foods, you can even supplement with Metamucil or a similar fiber supplement for a boost.

And the health bonuses are just the tip of the iceberg. Consuming more high-fiber carbs also helps support increased weight loss. It’s likely because fiber-loaded foods help keep you fuller for longer, which reduces cravings and overeating.

Remember, many different types of diets work. Your job isn’t to buy into the hype; instead, find the one you sustain the longest. That means considering the affordability, the stress the eating plan creates, and which plans include the foods you enjoy and help manage hunger.

As Dangerous As Obesity?

The new year is filled with a return to the gym and healthier eating. But here’s another aspect of your health you shouldn’t overlook.

Research suggests that as you age, loneliness could be as big of a threat to your health as obesity. (And that’s saying a lot because obesity is a big threat.)

The analysis revealed that individuals with stronger social connections and support networks significantly reduced their risk of mortality, independent of other factors such as smoking, high blood pressure, or gender. 

You might not realize it, but positive, connected relationships keep you healthier, happier, and living longer. In the longest-running study on happiness — an experiment going on for more than 80 years — scientists found that social connections matter more than anything else, including wealth and achievement. 

A separate study found that loneliness increases your odds of death by 26 percent in any given year.  

If you feel alone, you’re not the only one. Research conducted prior to the pandemic found that three out of four Americans felt lonely, and there’s been a rise in loneliness throughout the world.  

Improving your friendship takes time. Some studies suggest it can take at least 40 hours to connect, which gets harder as time is thin as an adult. But three practices can make a difference:

  • Curiosity: taking an interest in others can help you find friendships in places you don’t expect.

  • Intention: connection doesn’t happen by accident; you must be vulnerable and open.

  • Habit: schedule things to help create rituals that build the foundation of friendship.

The good news is even if you’re introverted, you can still connect virtually, in groups, or within communities where you find common interests. So, take the time to find your inner circle. It’s one of the healthiest things you can do.

How To Control Your Dreams

We all have a limited amount of time to accomplish what we want while we’re awake. But what if you could also control your thoughts while you sleep? 

Research suggests taking control of your subconscious thoughts — something known as lucid dreaming — could be helpful if you struggle with insomnia, anxiety, or creativity. 

Lucid dreams are a type of sleep in which you know you’re dreaming and learn to take control of your outcomes.

In one study, participants who underwent lucid dreaming training improved sleep quality and insomnia symptoms.

Additional research found that lucid dreamers can practice motor skills that translate to improved performance, almost like doing “mental reps” in bed that make you better when awake. 

The hard part is learning to lucid dream. A recent study compared different techniques and found that rehearsing the dream the day before (called mnemonic induction of lucid dreams) and then telling yourself to have the dream at night can be effective at helping you experience lucid dreams. 

The goal isn’t to lucid dream every night, nor is it necessary for good health. But it could be a technique that helps. If practicing dream sequences isn’t your thing, other techniques could also work to reduce anxiety and improve rest. People who practice dream recall the following morning or can fall asleep quickly are more likely to have lucid dreams. Journaling, doing a few minutes of deep breathing, or using a sleep formula could help if you struggle with falling asleep. 

Publisher: Arnold Schwarzenegger

Editors-in-chief: Adam Bornstein and Daniel Ketchell