Fever Dreams: Symptoms, Causes, and Prevention

If you’ve ever had a particularly intense dream while you’re sick, it may have been a fever dream.

A fever dream refers to vivid dreams that occur when your body temperature rises.

These dreams can be distressing and unpleasant for many people.

A dream is essentially a sequence of thoughts, images, or sensations you experience while asleep. Scientists believe that you have your strongest dreams during rapid eye movement (REM).

Though researchers don’t know exactly Why?You may dream of certain things, such as your daily activities, food, and health.

When do they happen?

A fever dream is when your body temperature rises above normal.

A normal body temperature ranges, usually between 97 and 99°F. Fever is defined as anything that is more than 2 degrees higher than your normal temperature.

A fever could be caused by your body responding to:

  • A viral or bacterial infected
  • heat exhaustion
  • Certain inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, can be caused by certain medications.
  • Medicines, such as antibiotics
  • Immunization
  • A tumor

What is fever dream like?

Fever dreams are a common experience for many people. In fact, almost 94 percent of participants in a 2016 study described their fever dream experiences as negative.

Although fever dreams are documented in medical literatures, scientific studies of the phenomenon are not extensive.

In a small 2013 study, scientists surveyed participants’ fever symptoms. Results showed that 11 percent of participants reported fever dreams.

A fever dream is often described as frightening, emotional, troubling, strange or scary. These dreams may have fewer social interactions than normal dreams.

In the 2013 study, one volunteer said their dreams would move “back and forth between a very difficult circumstance and a very comfortable circumstance.”

A recent online study examined 164 people, 100 of whom had reported a fever dream. The authors found that fever dreams were more bizarre, more negative-toned, and contained more references about health and temperature perception than normal dreams.

Scientists don’t know exactly why fever dreams occur, but there are some theories.

One is that high temperatures might disrupt the brain’s normal cognitive processes.

Authors of the 2020 study wrote, “The basic idea is that the ‘over-heated’ brain is not functioning properly and, therefore, dreams are more bizarre.”

Your body has a harder time controlling your internal temperature during the REM stage of sleeping, which is where vivid dreams occur. This already stressful process can lead to unfavorable dreams.

Fevers might also trigger waking hallucinations (seeing things that aren’t really there), irritability, and confusion.

While there may not be a perfect way to prevent fever dreaming, it is possible to control your body temperature.

If you have a fever, take the following steps:

  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Drink lots of fluids
  • Take a fever-reducing medicine such as acetaminophen or Tylenol (Advil), or ibuprofen
  • Eat foods that are easy for you to digest
  • Bathe in lukewarm waters

Fever dreams share some of the same symptoms as lucid dreams, which are dreams that happen when you’re aware that you’re dreaming.

People who have both lucid and fever dreams can recall details from their dreams. Both types are also present in the REM stage.

But, lucid dreams aren’t linked to higher body temperature, and they aren’t always unpleasant or negative in nature like fever dreams.

You can also train yourself to have lucid dreams.

Fever dreams are a strange phenomenon that occurs when your body temperature rises. They’re usually described as a disturbing and stressful experience.

While there’s no guarantee you can completely prevent a fever dream, treating your fever may help control these vivid nightmares.

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