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Ever woke up from a dream that looked so real, you felt that your dream was actually a memory, and you lived those moments you dreamt of? Even though people spend two hours dreaming in their sleep, it’s rare for them to remember each detail of their dreams. But sometimes, in certain conditions, waking up from a dream may feel like teleporting your consciousness from one reality to another.
Most of the time, vivid dreams trigger positive emotions and make you want to go back to sleep and keep on dreaming the same dream. So, we may conclude that vivid dreams mean good sleep and are good signs. We’ll see about that in a moment. However, the conditions that trigger vivid dreams don’t always point out favorable circumstances.
Are vivid dreams a sign of good sleep?
Dreams mostly indicate a natural, healthy sleep which affects our cognitive functions and emotional stability. However, dreams, especially vivid dreams and nightmares, are not always the bearer of good news about our mental and physiological states. These conditions also decrease your sleep quality.
Why do we have vivid dreams?
There are two stages of sleep: non-REM and REM cycles. The former is when your consciousness is aware that you are awake; the latter is when dreaming happens. Also, your body temperature drops due to a slower heart rate.
You can also dream during the non-REM phase, but you rarely remember those because REM cycles usually happen moments before you wake up, which affects their memorability. Dreams throughout your REM sleep become more memorable in specific conditions, such as the following.
- In one study, participants who didn’t get enough REM sleep one night had more extended REM periods and more intense dreams the next night.
- Narcoleptics often report vivid, unusual dreams.
- If you wake up right before or after REM sleep, chances are you’re going to remember your dream more vividly.
- Anxiety and stress appear to make people dream of upsetting things more frequently. You could develop mental health problems like anxiety and depression due to this.
- Some medications can make dreams more vivid. Studies have shown that taking SSRIs (an antidepressant category) may lead to fewer dreams being remembered, but the remembered dreams are more vivid. Beta-blockers (which treat high blood pressure) and Parkinson’s drugs can also cause nightmares.
- Changes in hormones and the body’s physical state during pregnancy may lead to sleep problems. According to research, pregnant women have more unsettling dreams than non-pregnant women.
Vivid dreams don’t usually mean good sleep—of course, there’s a need for further research and individual analysis for each case. But, there’s nothing you should fear because vivid dreams may also mean that you have a healthy emotional and memory formation process.
How can you have more vivid dreams?
If you want to have more vivid dreams, keeping a dream journal may help. If you start to write down dreams that you even vaguely remember, it may help you recall more details in time. Also, you can increase your chances of having vivid dreams if you don’t consume alcoholic beverages, sedative psychotropic drugs, and cannabinoids, among other substances with similar effects.
How can you have less vivid dreams?
As we mentioned above, you can remember your dreams better with a bit of effort and the help of a dream diary, but vivid dreams are not always a good sign. Still, you can do a couple of things to prevent them.
- Having a consistent sleep schedule and paying attention to your bedroom hygiene may help you have less vivid dreams.
- Relieving stress may result in decreased vivid dreams, though the relaxation methods vary for each individual.