Bizarre Fever Dreams Explained
Fever dreams are bizarre and scary dreams we get when our body is experiencing fever.
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Ever noticed having vividly unusual dreams when you were down with a fever?
That feeling of being crushed by a big rock or by the ceiling fan? Or the room that you’re in gets higher or wider, leaving you all alone and tiny, like Alice In Wonderland?
This is normal actually.
It’s called Fever Dream
Dream fevers are vivid, often bizarre or unpleasant.
They are more unusual and disturbing than ordinary dreams. Sometimes, they are also set in quirky Alice In Wonderland settings that feature psychedelic elements such as moving walls and melting objects.
Thanks to Public Health Malaysia, they shared a topic and infographic on Fever Dreams on their Twitter page.
Pernahkah anda mengalami mimpi aneh ketika demam seperti dihempap batu besar? Atau siling rumah menjadi tinggi dan ruang rumah semakin membesar?— Public Health Malaysia (@health_malaysia) October 30, 2022
Ya, anda tidak keseorangan.
Mimpi demam adalah situasi yang berlaku apabila suhu badan anda meningkat. Individu yang..
Fever dreams can occur at any stage of sleep but most vivid dreams happen during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep (scientists believe that you have your strongest dreams during this stage). REM sleep typically occurs on the last third quarter of your night’s sleep – edging towards the morning.
Fun Fact: If you wake up during or right after REM sleep, it can increase the chances of you remembering your dream.
In fact, fever dreams are so common during the pandemic that some people started reporting having scary dreams as a symptom of having Covid-19 (along with other fever symptoms).
Characteristics of Fever Dreams
According to a 2020 study done by dream researchers Michael Schredl and Daniel Erlacher, they found that fever dreams are indeed more bizarre, and include more negative and fewer positive emotions than other dreams, as described by the participants of their survey.
Fever dreams are also distinct from other dreams because they include less social interaction. You don’t talk much with other people in the dreams because there are not many characters in that kind of dream.
Some of the fever dreams also feature heat perception and sickness. This means that in the dreams themselves, they felt as if the temperature was rising and their body burning. They can also feel their body being too weak and helpless in the dream.
Here are some examples of dreams that some fever dreamers described:
- giant insects with oversized arms and legs
- blackness slowly spreading all over
- walls are moving
- mother is a golden statue that’s melting
- burning clouds and body is blazing with heat
- being threatened by animals and terrorists
- Ferris wheel turns extremely fast
- being shot by a bullet
- a big rock falling down and crushing them
These are just some random examples we picked from the previous studies and also from Malaysians on Twitter talking about fever dreams but boy… are they scary.
Why the scary stuff when we’re sick?
Scientists don’t really know why fever dreams occur but they have some theories.
“The basic idea is that the ‘over-heated’ brain is not functioning properly and, therefore, dreams are more bizarre,” said Schredl and Erlacher in their 2020 study.
According to Beth Malow, MD, a professor in the department of neurology and paediatrics and director of the sleep disorders division at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, the brain doesn’t process sensations normally when we have a fever.
Additionally, we don’t regulate body temperature during REM sleep as well as we do during other stages of sleep. And this may cause the temperature to swing out of control. By having a fever, your body has an even harder time controlling the temperature and that can lead to unpleasant dreams.
Besides that, fevers might also trigger waking hallucinations, irritability and confusion.
Fun Fact: Your normal body temperature is approximately between 36 to 37.5 °C. A fever is usually when your body is at 37.8 °C or higher.
Is it dangerous?
Fever dreams are not necessarily bad for the body. They send you a signal (if your high temperature isn’t giving enough hints) confirming that yes, you are having a fever and you need to rest.
But the way the dreams come is a bit unsettling. Even though you won’t be able to walk, turn, fall off your bed or punch your partner in the face during REM sleep (leg and arm muscles are temporarily paralysed during this stage), the scary dreams may cause you to suddenly wake up with anxiety and the feeling of surprise or discomfort.
You can’t prevent fever dreams but you technically can prevent from the dreams reoccurring by treating the fever. Control your body temperature by drinking lots of water, getting plenty of rest, taking fever-reducing medicine, eating foods that are easy to digest and bathing in lukewarm water.
But for the intensely terrifying dreams, no worries, you’re not alone. This is quite a normal symptom to face and don’t let the weird dreams freak you out. And no, you’re not gonna die anytime soon, we hope…
Here are some stories and scenes from fever sleepers to keep you entertained on this topic.
I am walking in a city that is situated in a valley, maybe Italy. […] Suddenly, a hot wind has sprung up. […] The air is so hot that breathing hurts. […] Everything around me is unfamiliar, the houses become enormous. I see a red glow in the corner of my eyes and I turn around to see an enormous lava ball coming down the mountain heading toward the city and me.Participant in a 2020 survey
I am running faster and faster, the air grows hotter and hotter, the lava ball is changing directions in pursuing me and does not affect the houses. It seems the lava ball has the task of getting me. As the lava ball catches up, I wake up. It didn’t hurt anymore to breath in the hot air, only the lung, the air tube, and the nose was hurting.
“When I had a fever when I was a kid, I dreamt that the Ferris Wheel was slowly rotating. And then it went extremely faster, like the dryer. I woke up and cried”
“My fever dream was me getting shot with a bullet. I felt like my soul was leaving my body but I still had time to run away from the bad guy though…”
“I had a fever once and dreamt of thousands of fishes from the sea coming towards me, suffocating me. When I woke up and told my mom, my temperature was 40 °C.”
So, what were your terrifying dreams when you had a fever? Can you recall the nightmares?
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