Why Do You Have Weird Dreams – 6 Reasons Explained

Why Do You Have Weird Dreams – 6 Reasons Explained

Written by Nectarsleep editorial team

Last Updated on Jun 14, 2022

In this article:

    Dreaming is part of being human. Human race 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. But, you might have always wondered, what do dreams mean? What do weird dreams mean? And most importantly, why do you get weird dreams? 

    We try to answer your questions regarding weird or scary dreams in our detailed guide below.

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    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 happy dreams but worried about weird dreams. Let us understand the causes of vivid dreams and how to stop having weird dreams in the following sections.

    6 Major Causes of Weird Dreams

    Weird dreams can be happy, sad, dangerous, or fantasy. Recent studies show that most 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 leads to approximately 2- 2.5 hours of heavy dreaming every day. That is a lot of time spent dreaming. 

    And if you have ever wondered, "why are my dreams so weird and random?" and wanted to do something about it, you need to understand the causes of weird dreams before you think of curing them. So 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 personal, professional, mental, physical, or psychological lives. These problems lead to a lot of stress and anxiety, leading us to 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. 

    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.

    4. Sleep Diseases

    Sleeping disorders such as Insomnia, Sleep Apnea, Narcolepsy, REM Sleep Behavior Disorder, and 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, slept, and had a horrible nightmare? If yes, you might be wondering, what is the relation between food and weird dreams? Unfortunately, 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's sleep, helping you remember your vivid dreams more. 

    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.

    Weird Dreams during Pregnancy

    Weird dreams during pregnancy are nothing but a reflection of your fluctuating emotional state. So, if you find yourself in the middle of a tidal wave or realize that you left your baby at the gym in your dreams, stop panicking! It is natural to feel nervous and excited about the "huge" change in your life, especially if you are a first-time mother. 

    As your pregnancy progresses, your dreams will most likely revolve around babies, baby animals, water, body changes, being in labor, and of course, life after delivery. Your dreams become more vivid and frequent because there is a considerable surge in your progesterone levels during this time. 

    Also, many mothers-to-be reportedly experience intense sex dreams during the third trimester of their pregnancy. Again, the reasons can be varied – some women get psychologically conscious about the effect pregnancy will have on their sex life. In contrast, others may experience erotic dreams simply due to the extra blood flow to their genitals during pregnancy, which boosts their sex drive.

    Not to forget, many women go through bad dreams or even nightmares during pregnancy. And if that is something you have experienced, you might be thinking – "Why are my dreams so weird?". You see, you have a lot going on within your body – both physically and mentally. As such, it is indeed possible for your subconscious mind to develop some negative thoughts, which randomly show up in your dreams now and then. 

    How to Stop Vivid Dreams in Pregnancy 

    While it may not be possible to stop your vivid dreams in totality, the good news is that you can at least cut down on them by following a few simple tips. Read on to lew how.

    • Reduce nighttime awakenings and try to sleep on time.
    • Sleep on your left, or make sure you find the most comfortable sleep position for you. 
    • Stay hydrated throughout the day, but avoid liquids before bed to reduce sleep disturbances. 
    • Keep a dream journal and express your thoughts or late-night worries to understand your fears and dream patterns. 
    • Avoid spicy, acidic foods since they can cause heartburn at night, further dismantling your sleep quality. 
    • Try meditation, yoga, and other physical activities or prenatal courses, so you feel relaxed as you hit the hay.
    • If you have recurring anxiety-based dreams, talk through them with your doctor or a friend. 

    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 and mental and physical problems; There is no perfect treatment for weird or strange 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, and 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 simultaneously 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 sleep environment in your room by using dim lights, low or no sound, and comfortable temperatures.
    • Resist lying in bed without sleeping; try to indulge in other activities to get tired and fall asleep.
    • In case of post-traumatic stress disorder, consult a doctor to prescribe sleeping and dreams medication or anti-anxiety medication to induce sound sleep.

    By now, you would have understood the causes of those weird dreams every night and have got the answer to "why do we have weird dreams." Although there is no specific treatment to cure those weird dreams, you can indeed 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. 

    This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.
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    References

    1. The brain as a dream state generator: an activation-synthesis hypothesis of the dream process

      https://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/abs/10.1176/ajp.134.12.1335

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