While sleeping, the brain remains active. As a result, people experience dreams. Most of the time, people do not remember their dreams. However, people tend to remember some dreams. The nature of dreams differs amongst individuals. Dreams can be enjoyable, pleasurable, soothing, depressing or even scary. Sometimes, a person does not remember anything about the dreams after they wake up. At other times, people may remember the dream clearly because of its severe intensity. Such dreams are referred to as vivid dreams. Vivid dreams are different from night terrors. The night terrors are commonly seen in children and often easily forgotten. Vivid dreams are nightmares or good dreams, which are seen in all ages and often people remember them.
Sometimes, a person may become aware in their dream. They can feel that this is not real, and they are dreaming. Such dreams are called lucid dreams.
What causes vivid dreams?
Vivid dreams can happen to anyone. However, scientists have found some factors that may be causing them. They are
- Stress or anxiety: Going through difficult or painful events in life, such as losing a loved one, job or money, can lead to feelings of stress or anxiety. Even a major change in life, such as getting married, can cause stress.
- Sleep disorders: Sleep disorders, such as insomnia and narcolepsy, are associated with vivid dreams. Jet lag and traveling in different time zones can also make a person prone to nightmares.
- Medications: Some medications can also increase the risk of vivid dreams. These include
- Pregnancy: Many women report experiencing vivid dreams during early pregnancy. This is probably due to hormonal changes in their bodies.
- Substance abuse: Addiction to alcohol and illegal drugs or withdrawal from any of these can trigger vivid dreams.
- Mental illnesses: Vivid dreams have also been associated with mental illnesses, such as depression and schizophrenia.
- Physical illnesses: Chronic physical illnesses, such as heart disease and cancer, can also cause vivid dreams.
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Rassin E, Merckelbach H, Spaan V. When Dreams Become a Royal Road to Confusion: Realistic Dreams, Dissociation, and Fantasy Proneness. J Nerv Ment Dis. July 2001;189(7):478-81. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11504326/