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6 Potential Reasons You're Having Weird Dreams

Do you wake up sweating in the middle of the night after having a strange dream? Most of us have all experienced a dream that we wish we had never had, and it can have lasting effects throughout the day, but what could be causing these dreams and is there a way to stop them?

Everyone dreams when they sleep, even if you don’t remember them, but the most vivid dreams usually occur during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, when the brain is the most active. The thing is, even though we all dream, no one really knows why. According to WebMD, Tom Scammell, MD, associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, says research is being conducted on how sleep improves memory and learning, and that dreaming may be an opportunity for you to practise things that you may, or may not ever do — like fighting off an attacker or climbing a mountain. It may also be a way to process emotion or incorporate memories.

But what could be causing them? There are at least some answers to this question, and something as simple as watching TV before bedtime, to being stressed out, can cause you to have vivid dreams.

According to Early Bird, a reason you could experience unusual dreams is if you ate a spicy meal before bed. Researchers suspect that this could be linked to the rise in body temperature and metabolism, which causes you to have a lower quality sleep but also make your brain more active.

Similarly, a fever can increase your body temperature and trigger bad dreams, according to Huffington Post, this is something you should be aware of if you have been feeling unwell and take this as a sign to get some medical attention.

Stress is a factor that affects your sleep quality, and according to Women’s Health, when you sleep this is your brains opportunity to process the negative emotions that you experienced during the day caused by stress or anxiety. Also, if you didn’t have a good rest the night before, you are more than likely to have a strange dream because you will be more likely to experience an intense REM sleep, and thus have vivid dreams.

If you watch TV before you go to bed then it can also cause nightmares while you sleep, especially if the content had been particularly scary or troubling. Movies, TV series, podcasts and even books also stimulate the imagination and create an emotional reaction to things, both of which could play out in your dreams.

Some people struggle to fall asleep at night and one of the ways they can do this is by taking melatonin supplements. According to Early Bird, a small study conducted on college students and published in Sleep and Hypnosis indicated that those taking 6mg of melatonin before bed, especially women, were more likely to experience dreams or nightmares.

Another factor that could influence your dreams is pregnancy. According to Huffington Post, more vivid dreams are prevalent during these nine months but it’s not all bad news. A small Israeli study conducted on 166 pregnant women found that those who had bad dreams were less likely to develop postpartum depression, while an Italian study found bad dreams to be linked to shorter labor. Bizarre, although slightly comforting.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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