Sleepless woman awake and covering face in the middle of the night due to weird dreams

6 Reasons You Are Having Weird Dreams

Dreaming is part of being human. Humanity has been interested in interpreting their dreams for thousands of years. We get all kinds of dreams, from being the President of a country to getting assassinated in a war. You might have always wondered, What do dreams mean? And most importantly, why do you get weird dreams? 

We try to answer questions you may have regarding strange dreams in our detailed guide below.

What Do Dreams Mean?

While many studies explain why we dream, there is no concrete understanding of what they mean. According to Harvard University psychiatrists John Allan Hobson and Robert McCarley, dreams mean nothing. Instead, they are merely electrical brain impulses that pull random thoughts and images from our memories. However, according to Freud, dreams are the imagery of a wish or notion from childhood. 

Another theory is the Threat Simulation Theory, which describes dreams as a protection mechanism to face our fears. However, the reality is we are delighted with those happy dreams but worried by those weird dreams. Let us understand the causes of vivid dreams and How to stop having abnormal dreams in the following sections.

Causes of Weird Dreams

Weird dreams can be happy, sad, dangerous, or fantasy. Recent studies show that most of the dreaming happens during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. REM sleep periods typically occur every 90 minutes during a night of sleep. It lasts about 20 to 25 minutes which is about 25% of night sleep in adults.

Considering seven to nine hours of average sleep for adults, it leads to approximately 2- 2.5 hours of heavy dreaming every day. That is a lot of time spent dreaming. You need to understand the causes of weird dreams before you think of curing them. We have compiled a list of reasons backed up by some scientific research for you to understand the causes of vivid dreams.

1. Stress and Anxiety

Problems are part and parcel of our lives, whether personal, professional, mental, physical, or psychological. These problems lead to a lot of stress and anxiety that ultimately leads us to some weird dreams.

Tragic events such as natural calamities, theft, the death of a close one, sexual harassment, or an accident can also cause weird dreams. 

A young man disturbed by morning alarm clock

Check out our blog on Sleep Anxiety- 10 tips to sleep better to help you experience sound sleep.

2. Heavy Medications

Studies reveal that heavy medications affect the neurotransmitters in our brain — the chemicals responsible for our mood and alertness – lead to weird dreams.

Heavy usage of Medications such as antidepressants, beta-blockers, steroids, Alzheimer’s disease medications, Parkinson’s disease medications, Cholesterol-lowering medications, Sleep aids, and allergy medications may lead to weird dreams.

3. Intoxicants and Stimulants

Intoxicants such as alcohol, drugs, recreational drugs, and supplements may lead to weird dreams.

A woman taking supplement for sleep with glass of water in other hand

4. Sleep Diseases

Sleeping disorders such as Insomnia, Sleep Apnea, Narcolepsy, REM Sleep Behavior Disorder, Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Disorder cause weird dreams. Other factors such as lack of sleep and jet lags can also lead to weird dreams.

5. Type of Food Consumption

Have you ever enjoyed a cheesy dinner, going to sleep, and had a horrible nightmare? If yes, you might be wondering, what is the relation between food and weird dreams? There is no concrete evidence on how the foods affect dreams; few believe that particular foods, like dairy products or spicy dishes, are foods that cause weird dreams.

One reason might be that certain foods upset your body and disturb your night sleep, helping you remember your vivid dreams more. 

Check out our latest guide on Foods that help you sleep better and improve your sleep with some healthy food.

6. Pregnancy

Weird dreams during pregnancy are common, primarily due to disruption in the sleep cycle of women due to breaks for the bathroom, movements in the body, or other events.

In a recent study on pregnant women, women reported dreams of their deliveries or meeting their baby for the first time. Many mothers even dream about a fatal accident and the gender of the baby.

How to Stop Having Weird Dreams?

You might have understood the possible causes of weird dreams. Although dreams are disrupting, they may eventually let you sleep peacefully over time.

But at times, dreams may lead to emotional distress, mental and physical problems; There is no perfect treatment for weird dreams. However, specific tips can help you get over the horror of bad dreams.

  • Consume healthy food and drink lots of water.
  • Maintain a healthy weight by eating low fats.
  • Treat any mental or physical condition that is adversely affecting your sleep schedule.
  • Try meditation, yoga, deep breathing, relaxation techniques to cope with stress and anxiety.
  • Exercise daily in the morning, do not exercise immediately before going to bed.
  • Build a proper sleep schedule by falling asleep and waking up at the same time every day.
  • Avoid watching horror movies, tv shows before going to bed.
  • Avoid consuming caffeine and nicotine before sleeping.
  • Relax by bathing, listening to soft music, or reading a book before going to bed.
  • Build a comfortable environment of sleep in your room by using dim lights, low or no sound, and comfortable temperatures.
  • Resist lying in bed without sleeping; try to indulge in some other activities to get tired and fall asleep.
  • In case of post-traumatic stress disorder, consult a doctor for prescribing sleeping Medication or anti-anxiety Medication to induce sound sleep.
A young girl sleeping on a bed at night

Check out our blog on tips to sleep better to improve the quality of your sleep.

The Final Word

By now, you might have understood the causes of those weird dreams every night you sleep. Although there is no specific treatment to cure those weird dreams, you can surely implement the tips mentioned above to experience a sound sleep without those weird dreams. Our human body is a mysterious machine and needs proper rest for us to live happily and healthy. 

Check out our blog on Fun facts about the Human Body to know more about this beautiful, wacky, and mysterious machine.

FAQs

Why do we dream?

We dream primarily during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Most studies suggest that dreams help you store valuable memories and thoughts that you have learned over a period to get rid of unimportant memories. Dreams also help you face your fears in reality.

Does eating late cause weird dreams?

According to Harvard medical school, eating late-night meals, especially high-carbohydrate, fatty meals, leads to night sweating. The body generates excess heat to metabolize the food. It wakes you up several times, disrupting your sleep, and helps you remember weird dreams even more.

Can melatonin cause weird dreams?

Melatonin adds to memory processes occurring during sleep. It helps you remember weird dreams, and you experience more scenes of bad dreams. Your brain also starts discovering how these memories relate to your understanding of reality while you are awake.

Does covid affect sleep?

COVID leads to many challenges during sleep. It makes us practice unheard phenomena like avoiding gatherings, isolation, social distancing, lockdowns, school closures, working from home, layoffs, leaves. It promotes disruptions in daily life, depressions, excess screen time, and stress-related fatigue causing anxiety and stressful time, eventually leading to insomnia and other sleeping disorders that affect sleep.