Why do you have strange dreams when you have a fever?
There are not many studies about dreamlike experiences during a feverish episode. But research published in 2016 by German researchers helps to better understand the influence of fever on the brain, the unconscious, sleep… and dreams.
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Fever is often accompanied by unpleasant symptoms such as fatigue, muscle aches, hot flashes and chills. But have you noticed that strange dreams can also manifest themselves?
Forgotten old dreams resurface, dreams that constantly switch between the pleasant and the unpleasant, dreams that haunt us during the day so they look real… How do you explain them?
There is not a lot of scientific material on this subject, the Time website points out, but some studies have been carried out. The first one dates from 2013, and serves as an observation of this “bizarre” phenomenon.
The second was carried out in 2016. Researchers at the Central Institute of Mental Health in Germany compared people’s dreams during and after an episode of intense fever.
They found that fever dreams are weirder, more negative and involve fewer social interactions than dreams in normal times.
Fever and brain
About 94% of people who had dreams of fever described them as negative. They also described these dreams as much more emotionally intense than their usual dreams. Why can fever cause this type of dream? High brain temperatures could disrupt normal brain cognitive processes, the study authors suggest.
REM sleep is essential for temperature control, and fever suppresses this phase of sleep. It is therefore plausible that it is also capable of altering the nature of a person’s dreams. According to scientists, the symptoms of the disease and the images associated with it are much more likely to manifest themselves in febrile dreams.
This observation suggests that dreams often reflect aspects of our waking daily life. After spending the day being locked in your home, at the bottom of your bed, dreams would naturally be oriented towards warmth, lack of social interaction, and intensity in general.