What Causes Vivid Dreams?

If you have ever had a Vivid dream, then you know how intense they can be. You might remember every detail, or just bits and pieces.  Though,  if it wakes you up, it can leave you feeling anxious making it harder to sleep.

Sleep deprived

But sleep you must! Not getting enough sleep can cause more than a full day of yawning. Lack of sleep can be the cause of some very memorable dreams. It’s suspected that lack of sleep can cause you to sleep lighter and therefore more likely to remember your dreams. It also gives you less time to process your day and that too can contribute to more vivid dreams.

Travel can be another cause for sleep deprivation. So even though you are headed to a faraway destination for rest and relaxation, if you find your schedule being disrupted in route, you may find your dreams a bit more exciting until you get back on your schedule.

Spicy food before bed

You had your heart set on your favorite restaurant all week and it is finally Friday night. You head out for dinner, mouthwatering at the thought of the delicious meal you will be getting. Unfortunately, there is a huge waiting list and you don’t get dinner until close to bedtime.

Of course, it was worth the wait, but your decision to have all that spice before bed could wreak havoc on your sleep when you start dreaming of mayhem. Next time it might be worth it to hold off on the spice for a daytime meal.


If the little bundle of joy has you feeling like a bundle of nerves, it can contribute to some pretty crazy dreams. I remember vivid dreams of kittens running in all directions making them impossible to catch. At least it was only kittens and not kids!

Your hormones during this time can play a role in the intensity of the dreams you have. As your body grows and changes, it can throw off your normal sleep patterns leaving you susceptible to a night full of memorable dreaming.

There are some helpful pregnancy related sleeping positions here.

Stress and Anxiety

You would be amazed at how much your daytime stress and worry can feed your nighttime nightmares. It is well worth the time and effort to do some distressing before lights out to prevent those unwanted dreams. It can help to journal about what’s on your mind, meditate or even read a book. Keep your stress at bay to keep those crazy dreams away.


PTSD is a serious medical condition that can cause intrusive thoughts and vivid memories. Any symptoms of PTSD should be treated with the help of professionals, especially if it’s impacting your sleep. It can become a vicious cycle of vivid dreams reducing your sleep and reduced sleep causing more vivid dreams. Don’t wait to seek care, you are worth it!


Some medications can make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. Medications that are stimulants, like ADHD medication or steroids can make it difficult to sleep and should not be taken near bedtime.

Some find it best not to take them beyond early afternoon.

Caffeine, Alcohol, or recreational drugs

Caffeine is a stimulant and can also have negative effects on your sleep, so it’s best to avoid it late in the day. If you are a tea drinker, you are in luck. They have tea without caffeine and both lavender and chamomile have been touted as great before bed drinks to help you settle in for a good night’s sleep.

Alcohol and some recreational drugs can give you the illusion that they are helping you with sleep. Alcohol can make you tired initially, but it reduces the amount of REM sleep which ultimately can lower your quality of sleep. Smoking Marijuana can help you feel more relaxed but has a rebound effect which can increase your anxiety and reduce your sleep.

It’s best to stick with natural sleep aids and/or see a doctor if you are having trouble winding down and getting to sleep. Melatonin is a chemical your body produces to help induce sleep. You can get a supplement of this at your local grocery store or pharmacy.


If you have ever had “fever dreams” you know that being sick can leaving you feeling delirious. When you are down with a fever, be sure you are staying hydrated and getting enough rest to help reduce those zany nighttime adventures.


While there can be many possible contributors to nighttime nightmares, there are also quite a few things that you can do to manage the mayhem.

It’s impossible to overstate the need for self-care. By taking care of yourself, you reduce the likelihood of experiencing vivid dreams. Keeping a solid schedule that you follow even on the weekends is key to falling asleep and staying asleep.

Eating healthy and staying hydrated help you stay on your game during the day and help avoid naps that might disrupt your schedule. Making sure to avoid spicy foods, caffeine, alcohol, or recreational drugs at bedtime can ensure you are not messing up your sleep and waking up exhausted.

Bedtime Routine

Having a bedtime routine to wind you down can help your body shift from daytime to nighttime and make it easier to drift off to sleep. It can be as simple as getting changed, brushing your teeth, and reading for 20 minutes as long as you keep it consistent.


Having the right mattress for your sleeping pleasure is important too. Sleeping on a spring or sinking into a spongy hole can ruin a good night’s sleep easily. Remember, your mattress may be getting old as well. How long have you had it? There are mattresses that are highly recommended for aiding in your slumber. See this article for more information and suggestions.


While it may seem like exercise will not fit into your schedule, you may want to reconsider. If you are having trouble falling or staying asleep, you may find that a little exercise goes a long way to improving the quality of your sleep and helping you get that magic 7 – 9 hours you need.

While vivid dreams can be disturbing, they are not dangerous in and of themselves. They may be a sign that you need to take a little better care of yourself though, so listen up!