‘I want a dream of me watching myself sleep’, the late comedian Mitch Hedberg once said. The man raised an interesting topic, because, despite its direct relation to rest and peacefulness, dreaming does come with lots of brain activity. Whether you remember or forget your dreams, they influence your mental health the same as your real life does.

Furthermore, dreams may reflect your mental and physical health issues. That’s especially true if you’re dealing with recurring nightmares. Vivid dreaming, for instance, may be the symptom of sleep issues or one of the signs that you’re pregnant. Thus, from your dream ‘scenarios’ to how frequent your dreams are, your nocturnal adventures may reveal some important health-related insights.

If you’re curious about why you dream and how your dreams are related to our mental health, you’ve come to the right place. The thing is, in a dream, your brain processes your memories, emotions, and occurrences from your waking life. In this way, dreams and your psychological health correlate in the closest way. Keep reading for details.

Watch Out for Nightmares

Nightmares are not cool, neither is waking up from them in a cold sweat, heart beating right out of your chest. In the majority of cases, these scary nocturnal ‘plots’ bear no significant meaning. However, if you’re dealing with them on a regular basis, this could indicate that there are certain health issues you need to address.

According to a fairly recent study, nightmares are closely linked to heart issues. That’s because heart issues lead to less oxygen reaching your brain, which can result in seeing all those terrifying motion pictures in your sleep.

Sleep apnea can also lead to frequent nightmares. It’s a sleep disorder that happens when one’s breathing is blocked off during sleep. These interruptions affect your REM sleep because of a lack of oxygen. In this case, your nightmares usually imply getting drowned or suffocated. If you’re not very much into having bad dreams on a daily basis, then exploring their potential health-related causes is definitely a must. 

Dream Periodicity Matters

Usually, you’ll have up to 6 dreams every night. It’s natural that you won’t remember all of them. It’s interesting that the right-before-waking-up dreams tend to be more memorable. 

If you’re going through anxiety or depression, this can alter your dream periodicity. The thing is, these mental health issues make you wake up frequently during REM sleep, which results in remembering most of your dreams. 

If your nocturnal motion picture frequency worries you, start a dream journal and note the details down. Diagnosing a mood disorder may be challenging for you, but how frequent your dreams are may stimulate you to take action and turn to professional help. Extreme heat or cold weather, nonstop pain, or stopping antidepressants may also affect your dream periodicity — and memorability

Intense Dreams That Linger Throughout the Day

You may have intense, lucid dreams for an array of reasons. First and foremost, they may suggest that you may be dealing with certain brain conditions like Parkinson’s disease, for example. If you’re not a doctor, no need to panic. Strange and surprising as it sounds, awkward and intense dreams may also be a sign of infection. 

There are less terrifying reasons why you have lucid dreams, so explore them all prior to delivering hyper-emotional reactions. For example, having too many cocktails during your girls night out may trigger colorful and powerful dreams as the morning comes. Some medications can also result in lucid dreams, particularly when it comes to the side effects of coming off them.

Standard Health-Related Dream Content

The following ‘dream scenarios’ are standard and recurring when it comes to potentially signifying your health issues:

  • falling teeth: if you’re having recurring dreams about losing your teeth, this may represent dealing with anxiety or panic attacks;
  • being stalked or attacked: violent ‘nocturnal scenarios’ may potentially be triggered by serious brain diseases;
  • shocking instantly-wake-you-up dreams: these are usually caused by an upset stomach and the uneasy feeling that accompanies it.

Dream Abnormalities & Possible Reasons Behind Them

While decoding the ‘scenarios’ of your dreams is extremely subjective and not exactly scientific, certain dream patterns are known to be associated with some sleep issues. Below, we’ve rounded up some dream abnormalities that could potentially suggest health issues:

  • memorizing most of your dreams: this could point toward sleep problems;
  • bizarre ‘plots’: this implies multiple interruptions caused by greasy food or alcohol;
  • not remembering any of your dreams at all: this could be (another) sign of sleep apnea;
  • anxiety dreams: it means you’re extremely anxious in your real life — and should do something about it.

Now, these abnormalities alone do not prove that you’re suffering from the aforementioned conditions. However, they are worth discussing with your healthcare professional if your sleeping patterns don’t make you particularly happy.

To Wrap Up: Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle & Enjoy Sweet Dreams

Dealing with nightmares on occasion doesn’t equal health problems. Rare nightmares may be caused by a stressful day at work, bad news in your waking life, watching a horror movie before going to bed, and the like. However, if the bad dream situation is ongoing, then bringing it up with your healthcare specialist is definitely a must. This could offer profound clues into what kind of issue exactly you’re facing.

Dreaming patterns that disrupt your sleep on an ongoing basis require medical attention. If you wake up in the morning feeling tired, are having regular nightmares, or have noticed negative dynamics in your sleep and dream patterns after starting certain meds, seeing your doctor ASAP would be the right thing to do.

At the end of the day, taking control of your well-being and leading a healthy lifestyle definitely contributes to your healthy sleep patterns. Cultivating healthy habits on a regular basis does elevate the sweetness and peacefulness of your dreams. So, if you want to fall into the arms of Morpheus with genuine pleasure, don’t forget to maintain a balanced diet, work out daily, stay hydrated, stop smoking, and avoid too much alcohol.