How Pregnancy Can Affect Your Dreams
This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation
Many women find that their dreams change when pregnant. Dreams can become more intense and vivid, and some women experience an increase in nightmares and dreams that involve anxiety. One possible reason: Pregnancy causes a change in hormone levels, which in turn affects sleep rhythms, leading to new dream patterns. Learn how pregnancy can affect your dreams and how to deal with these changes.
New Dream Types
Women tend to have more dreams when pregnant. In addition to more vivid dreams, many women report having better dream recall. The content of their dreams can change as well. Many women report dreaming about water, fertility, body changes, going into labor, and their future baby. Some of these dreams may manifest themselves as nightmares or fearful dreams related to the baby.
What’s Behind It
Fluctuating hormones are responsible for more intense and frequent dreams. Pregnant women also tend to become more fatigued and sleep more often, which could explain why they experience an increase dreams overall.
Additionally, greater dream recall is related to a change in sleep rhythms. Pregnant women tend to wake up more often during the night from disturbances such as the baby moving inside the womb or the need to use the bathroom. These awakenings may occur in the middle of a dream cycle, which leads to stronger dream memory.
Finally, pregnant women may spend time thinking about their baby, giving birth, and their new life with a child. It’s normal for these thoughts, fantasies, and fears to play out in dreams and sometimes nightmares.
Handling Unpleasant Dreams
Dreaming during pregnancy can be a healthy way of working out your hopes and anxieties. In fact, women who have more nightmares about labor during their pregnancy actually go on to have shorter and easier deliveries.
Still, unpleasant dreams, especially vivid ones that occur during pregnancy, can be disconcerting. You may be able to reduce their frequency by talking with your doctor about any anxieties regarding pregnancy, labor, or motherhood. Follow common sleep tips for pregnant women, such as avoiding too much liquid before bed, and practice relaxation techniques to prepare for bedtime. And rest assured that there is no research suggesting scary dreams during pregnancy have any influence on the health of your new baby.