Vivid pregnancy dreams explained, pregnant dream meaning suggestions plus advice on coping with nightmares
Throughout pregnancy many women experience highly vivid dreams on a nightly basis. These tend to be remembered in more detail and feel more lucid than previous dream experiences and while some are just plain strange, others can be frightening nightmares.
However, before you start to worry about the meaning of your dreams you should remember that there is little evidence to suggest that their content predict or symbolise real world events in any way. Instead they are more likely to be a mechanism used by your brain to process thoughts and emotions experienced during the day whilst your body is resting and not taking on any new information.
The enhanced vividity of the dreams experienced during pregnancy is thought to be due to a combination of several factors.
Firstly, pregnancy is a time of great change both physically and emotionally. This is likely to be reflected in your dreams as your mind assimilates new feelings and experiences into it's existing bank of knowledge during the night. On this basis many believe that symbols present in dreams can be interpreted to show your underlying thoughts and emotions.
Secondly, the increased presence of the hormones progesterone and oestrogen are thought to impact the way you sleep during pregnancy. We tend to sleep in cycles made up of REM (rapid eye movement) and NREM (non-rapid eye movement) phases. These cycles tend to last approximately 90 minutes so if you take the recommended 8 hours sleep a night, you are likely to experience 4 or 5 REM cycles.
REM usually accounts for about 20% of the time we spend asleep and although it is believed that dreams can occur at any time during the sleep cycle, REM dreams seem to be more detailed and most easily remembered. This is thought to be because REM is the stage of sleep where brain process are most similar to those that occur when we are awake. Increased levels of oestrogen are thought to result in elongated phases of REM and therefore may help to explain the enhanced quality and recall of dreams experienced during pregnancy.
Finally, it is likely that as a result of the frequent night wakening and the generally poorer quality of sleep experienced during pregnancy, vivid dreams may simply be a result of fully waking during an REM phase of your sleep cycle and consequently result in an enhanced recollection of your dream.
Talking your dreams through with your partner or with friends can alleviate any worries you have about their content and help to put them into perspective. However, if you ever feel that your dreams become a problem or consistently prevent you from sleeping, you should discuss this with your health care professional.
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