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Learn what dreams mean and how they relate to sleep. Discover why we dream, how we dream, and what some dreams mean on National Sleep Foundation.
Table of contents

REM sleep normally cycles every 90 minutes during a night of sleep and may last 20 to 25 minutes.


Dreaming Sleep Brain Activity and Cycles

The average adult should get between seven and nine hours of sleep per night for optimal health. So, what causes vivid dreams? But they think the following factors may play a part.

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Difficulties real and imagined can cause a person to experience stress and anxiety in their daily life. Problems with friends, family, school, or work can trigger intense dreams as can big events like getting married or buying a house. Stressed caused by traumatic events, such as a death of a loved one , sexual abuse, or a car accident can also cause vivid dreams.

Anxiety, in particular, is associated with an increased risk of disturbing and intense nightmares. Changes to your sleep schedule, such as flying overseas and going to sleep at a different time or getting less sleep than usual, can also increase this risk. There are some medications that have been reported to contribute to vivid dreams. Using alcohol in excess, using recreational drugs, or experiencing a withdrawal from drugs can trigger vivid dreams, often nightmares. In addition to stress and anxiety, other mental health conditions, such as depression and schizophrenia , are associated with vivid dreams.

Physical illnesses, like heart disease and cancer , have also been associated with vivid dreams. Many pregnant women say they experience vivid dreams, especially during the early days of their pregnancy. Normally, vivid dreams are nothing to worry about. Sometimes they may only affect you during a certain part of your life. But negative vivid dreams, especially if they last for weeks or months, can be emotionally disturbing and disruptive to your sleep.

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  7. And that can cause health problems. In many cases, these dreams will go away over time. But if your vivid dreams are causing you emotional distress or physical problems, you might benefit from medical treatment or lifestyle modifications. Schedule an appointment with your doctor or a sleep specialist to try to determine what treatments or lifestyle modifications are right for you. If your vivid dreams are caused by an underlying mental or physical health condition, you can reduce your risk of vivid dreams by treating that condition.

    Eating well, maintaining a healthy weight, getting enough sleep, maintaining a regular sleep schedule, drinking enough water, and looking after your mental health can help prevent vivid dreams.

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    Everyone experiences stress and anxiety, but some people are better at coping with it than others. If you feel that your stress and anxiety levels are out of control, you might want to consider:. A racing mind can result in vivid dreams and sometimes nightmares.

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    This treatment is often used for people experiencing vivid dreams, especially nightmares, as a result of trauma. Your mental healthcare provider will ask you to continue playing over the new, nonthreatening ending to the dream in your mind. However, in the case of nightmares induced by trauma, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, a doctor may consider prescribing sleeping medication or anti-anxiety medication to help induce sleep.

    Many women experience insomnia during the first and last trimester of pregnancy. Here are eight solutions that will help you sleep better. It's all the rage, but does sleeping on the floor really give you better Z's? Typically, sleep cycles last about 90 minutes. In other words, it takes a while for deep sleep to take over in an evening. For this reason, REM sleep is not typically achieved during brief naps.

    On average, an adult spends about 25 percent of the night in REM sleep. The percentage of time spent in REM sleep may decrease with age. Frequent disturbance of REM sleep may contribute to false awakenings. Examples: Dreaming sleep, also known as REM sleep, occurs cyclically through the night but does not make up the largest portion of the sleep cycle.


    Tossing and turning night over night can have a big impact on your quality of life. Our free guide can help you get the rest you need. Sign up for our newsletter and get it free. There was an error.

    Dream - Wikipedia

    Please try again. Thank you, , for signing up. More in Sleep Disorders. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Email Address Sign Up There was an error. What are your concerns? Continue Reading. Causes of Vivid Morning Dreams. What Is Sleep Architecture? Falling Asleep Driving? Dangers of Microsleep and How to Prevent It.