Causes Of Vivid Dreams, How They Occur, And How To Stop The Unpleasant One?

Spread the love

We roughly spend two hours each night dreaming. Many people fail to recall their dreams or merely have a hazy remembrance of what happened. However, you may occasionally wake up with clear memories of your dreams.

A vivid dream content can elicit sentiments of pleasure or comfort. You might even wake up wondering if you could return to your dream. Some individuals have dreams that feel realistic.

These are known as vivid dreams. Vivid dreams are dreams that individuals recall in great detail once they wake up. This dream recall is strongest when a person wakes up during the REM sleep phase.

While dreams can sometimes be accurate reflections of waking life, it can be harder to make sense of strange or imaginative dreams. That’s why many people find it interesting to try to figure out what their dreams mean.

Dreams can be bizarre, making you question how your mind could have imagined such an unusual scene. Vivid dreams may also be stressful or unsettling; in some situations, they might interfere with getting enough sleep.

What Can Cause Vivid Dreams?

Rapid eye movement (REM) and non-REM sleep are the two primary stages of sleep. Although dreams can occur during both REM and non-REM sleep, experienced dreams during REM sleep are more vivid. Furthermore, REM periods are often more profound and longer in the morning (as sleep nears its finish).

Factors That May Influence Vivid Dreams

People experience REM sleep and dreams as part of their regular sleep schedule. We often forget these dreams and spend our daily lives without remembering what happened throughout our REM cycles at night.

Since vivid dreams usually occur during REM sleep, waking up during or right after REM sleep improves the likelihood that you can recall your dream vividly. 

Some common causes of vivid dreams include stress, medical side effects, and sleep disturbances or problems such as sleep apnea. Anxiety and depression, for example, may also play a role.

Sleep deprivation

One study indicated that subjects who lacked REM sleep one night had a longer period of REM sleep and more intense dreams the next night.

Nightmares are vivid dreams that are scary or upsetting, and it is possible to develop a disease called nightmare disorder. You can’t get enough sleep because of this sleep problem. If you’re having trouble sleeping because of frequent dreams, you should talk to your doctor.


Research suggests that those who have anxiety symptoms throughout the day are likely to experience vivid dreams. This can also contribute to mental health issues, including anxiety and depression.


Certain medicines might affect the vividness of dreams. For example, one study found that SSRIs (a type of antidepressant) reduced the frequency with which individuals remembered their dreams while increasing the vividness of those dreams once they were recalled. Other drugs, like beta-blockers (a therapy for elevated blood pressure) and Parkinson’s disease treatments, may trigger nightmares.

Narcolepsy, defined by excessive daytime sleepiness, is one example of a sleep disorder. Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder where patients usually experience bizarre dreams, odd nightmares, and lucid dreaming.


During pregnancy, hormonal and physical shifts can cause insomnia and sleep disturbances. A study indicated that women in their third trimester of pregnancy had more distressing dream imagery than non-pregnant women.

How Vivid Dreams Occur

The REM (rapid eye movement) stages of sleep, which occur around once every 90 minutes and continue for approximately 20 to 25 minutes at a time, are when most dreams take place. You may have vivid dreams both while you are napping during the day and while you are sleeping at night, but this will depend on your sleep routine.

Dreaming and Sleep Stages

When you sleep, your brain cycles across four to six sleep stages. Each cycle has phases of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. This is followed by brief, rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.

NREM sleep can produce fragmented dreams with simple concepts and imagery, whereas REM sleep produces the most detailed dreams.

Each sleep cycle lasts around 90 minutes. As morning approaches, the NREM periods shorten, and the REM periods lengthen.
The majority of REM sleep happens in the final third of the night. Many people remember a dream from their last REM state when they wake up.

What Scientists Say About What Can Cause Vivid Dreams

Although there are no known particular explanations for vivid dreams, various elements have been discovered to contribute to them. These include using drugs or smoking, daily behaviors and routines, sleep issues, and psychological difficulties such as higher anxiety levels, stress, or emotional disturbance. Pregnancy and certain drugs can also have a role. The following are nine variables that lead to vivid dreams:

Alcohol Consumption

Heavy or persistent alcohol consumption can disturb the sleep cycle, making vivid dreams more likely. Alcoholism has been shown to interfere with sleep by altering sleep phases and neurotransmitters in the brain.

Marijuana Use

Cannabis consumption has been linked to alterations in dream memory, quantity, and emotional content, resulting in vivid dreams. According to one study, cannabis stimulates vivid dreaming by influencing sleep architecture.


Certain drugs might affect dreams and make them more vivid. Antidepressants, antipsychotics, and various sleep medicines are examples.


Pregnant women frequently experience heightened emotional intensity in their dreams during pregnancy. These dreams often feature pregnancy-related themes and could result from hormonal effects.

Sleep Issues

Increased vivid dreams are related to sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, insomnia, and restless legs syndrome. Sleep disorders alter the structure of sleep and the cycle of sleep and wakefulness, resulting in more vivid dreams.

Psychological Aspects

According to research, those suffering from more significant anxiety, stress, and mental health issues are more likely to have vivid dreams.

Increased emotional arousal and cognitive processing contribute to vivid dreams during emotional hardship. Anxiety and PTSD are two mental health problems that might contribute to vivid nightmares.

Traumatic events may be relived in dreams by those suffering from PTSD or C-PTSD. These are referred to as intrusive dreams. They frequently lead to insomnia, mainly if you develop a phobia of falling asleep.

Personal Habits

Various lifestyle routines and habits have been linked to more vivid dreams. These include inconsistent sleep habits and the usage of drugs that contribute to neurotransmitter disturbance, altering dreams.

Tobacco Use

It has been discovered that nicotine affects dreams. This is particularly so in instances of cigarette use. Smoking has an impact on dream recollection, vividness, and intensity. Like other substances, nicotine influences the structure of sleep and neurotransmitters, boosting the likelihood of vivid dreams.

Medical Concerns

Vivid dreams may be exacerbated by neurological diseases like Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, epileptic seizures, and brain injury. These diseases can affect neurotransmitter balance and brain function.

Effects of Vivid Dreams

Some vivid dreams are enjoyable, eliciting emotions of well-being or pleasure. However, vivid dreams are considerably more frequently claimed to have adverse outcomes.

These can include poor sleep quality, which can lead to cognition and emotional disorders; sleepiness during the day makes daily tasks more challenging. And even more severe mental health issues. The following are some of the consequences of vivid dreams:

Mental weariness

This might be one of the side effects of vivid dreams. Sleep deprivation can contribute to emotions of tension, overwhelm, and burnout.

Revenge bedtime procrastination

Revenge bedtime procrastination is another impact of vivid nightmares. This occurs when a person avoids going to sleep by keeping engaged with other things. However, this has the unintended consequence of causing a lack of sleep, tiredness, and other sleep disorders.


If dreams cause anxiety, the recollections of these unpleasant dreams can remain throughout the day. This increased worry may give rise to sleep deprivation, leading to even more stress. Sleep deprivation and worry are an endless cycle that may persist until either slumber or tension decreases.

Daytime sleepiness

An evening of intense dreaming, waking up frequently, and recalling dreams can lead to less comfortable sleep, resulting in daytime tiredness.

Reduced productivity

An absence of restful sleep can cause problems with attention, clarity, and concentration. These consequences can lead to decreased productivity, leading to troubles at school or work.

Mood changes

Because of the intense emotion of the dream, very vivid dreams can cause feelings of fear, worry, bewilderment, or impatience. These effects frequently last well into the morning hours.

Mental health issues

Vivid dreaming, particularly when it interferes with sleep, can lead to sadness along with other mental health conditions, as well as an absence of desire.

How to Stop Your Unpleasant Vivid Dreams

Dealing with vivid dreams consistently can be stressful, and sleep is one of the most critical elements for physical, and mental wellness. 

Dreaming about upsetting or vivid things can be challenging, especially when they disrupt one’s sleep and make it difficult to function normally throughout the day.

The good news is that there are recognized causes of vivid dreams and numerous techniques to reduce the likelihood that you will have them. The possibility of experiencing a vivid dream can be reduced in several ways, including the following:

It is imperative to seek the attention of a trained medical professional as quickly as possible if one suspects that their vivid dreams may be the result of underlying health conditions or neurological difficulties. The treatment of these disorders may be of some assistance.


If your vivid dreams are becoming problematic or affecting your day-to-day life, consider trying medication. When another condition, such as an underlying mental illness, is the source of the dreams or sleep problems, particular sleep, mental health, or medication can be beneficial. Treatment for these illnesses and efforts to improve sleep quality can be a factor in helping reduce vivid dreams

Imagery rehearsal therapy (IRT)

It is a cognitive treatment that helps patients reduce the frequency and intensity of unpleasant, vivid dreams. Imagery rehearsal therapy was developed in the 1970s.

First, the individual writes out their vivid dream with as much information as is feasible. Next, the individual rewrites the dream in a more favorable light. The reworked, more upbeat version is read aloud to the individual as they prepare for sleep.


It has been demonstrated to assist people in having a better night’s sleep overall. A good quality sleep can also help lessen the likelihood of vivid dreams. This is because exercise improves the quality of sleep.

Practice good sleep hygiene

It entails practicing healthy behaviors throughout the day, such as avoiding caffeine in the late afternoon and evening and switching off electronic devices one hour before bed. Participating in activities that are soothing while also getting ready for bed can be of assistance.


Many different meditative practices can help you relax and quiet down, including some designed especially for sleep.

Solid coping mechanisms

If stress or anxiety is a problem, it is highly likely to affect sleep, including dreams. One healthy way to deal with these issues is to practice restorative coping techniques.

Developing appropriate coping techniques will assist in minimizing anxiety and stress, which in turn can reduce the likelihood of having vivid dreams. This can be a benefit to those who suffer from vivid dreaming.

Quitting smoking

Research has revealed that smoking disrupts sleep and increases the intensity of one’s dreams. Quitting smoking may boost sleep quality and lower the likelihood of having vivid dreams, in addition to providing all the other health benefits listed above.

Reduce your usage of alcohol and caffeine

Both alcohol and caffeine have been proven to harm sleep. It’s possible that cutting back will assist in enhancing the quality of your sleep and minimize the number of fragmented sleep, vivid, disturbing, or sleep-disrupting nightmares you have.

How to Treat Vivid Dreams to Have a Better Sleep

Although some vivid dreams are enjoyable, others are strong and scary. You may reduce the frequency of vivid dreams that keep you awake at night.

Improve your sleeping habits

Good sleep hygiene entails being aware of your internal circadian cycle and developing behaviors that support healthy sleep. Maintaining a sleeping pattern and bedtime routine, as well as keeping your room dark and quiet, can all help to lessen sleep fragmentation and, as a result, increase your chance of recalling vivid dreams.

Learn how to deal with stress and worry

Stress and anxiety can cause a habit of vivid dreaming. To minimize stress, strive to balance work and personal life, commit to regular physical activity, seek a support system, and consider seeking treatment if stress and anxiety problems persist.

Seek medical advice

See your doctor or therapist if you’re having vivid dreams regularly and believe these vivid dreams are causing you discomfort. Record your sleep patterns and discuss them with your therapist for potential treatment options. 

While doctors rarely prescribe medicine to treat vivid dreams, they could offer a treatment plan to minimize such dreams. This is particularly so if vivid dreams are a side effect of a more severe sleep problem, like narcolepsy or insomnia. 

Locate a mental health professional, a trauma therapist may be prepared to help you deal with intense, trauma-related nightmares using imagery rehearsal therapy and other treatments to lessen vivid dreams’ potency.

Final Thoughts

Every once in a while, everyone has vivid dreams. Having vivid dreams can be caused by many things, from pregnancy to stress. Substance abuse, medication side effects, or even a sleep problem could be to blame.

Most of the time, these dreams will go away on their own. Getting into good sleep habits can help stop them, though. You should see your doctor if you regularly have disturbingly vivid dreams.


Is it dangerous to have vivid dreams?

In most cases, vivid dreams are not a cause for concern. Although experts do not completely understand the role or meaning of dreams, others believe that they are a normal aspect of emotional processing and memory development during regular sleep.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *