Ask SleepBetter: Why Am I Dreaming More?

Have you wondered about something related to sleep, but just can’t find the answer? Lots of people do, and that’s why we created Ask SleepBetter. You can ask your own question on the SleepBetter Facebook Page, or by using our Ask SleepBetter contact form. We will try to answer as many questions as possible, but we are not able to answer queries about physical or medicinal issues. Those should be addressed face-to-face with a physician.

Today’s question is about an increase in dreams:

“I almost never used to dream. Especially when I was a truck driver. I slept in my truck 4 to 5 times a week then. Now I can’t stop dreaming ( don’t drive anymore. Would an increase in stress cause it?”
-Wesley (via Facebook)

Despite all of the headway in understanding of sleep, dreams are one thing that is still largely a mystery.  One thing we can tell you, however, is that aside from those with certain traumatic brain injuries, all people dream every night.

During the night, you cycle through multiple non-REM (rapid eye movement) and REM cycles, with dreams coming at the end of each cycle.  The dreams you remember are usually ones where you wake during or right after the dream.  Individuals who don’t think they dream are usually heavy sleepers or people who simply don’t remember their dreams.

In your case, your issue is most likely caused by exactly what you think — stress.  Other issues that can cause more vivid dreams are sleep deprivation, use of alcohol or illicit drugs and certain medications.  Certain sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, can also increase the number of dreams recalled, because the disorder causes micro-awakenings throughout the night.

Our recommendation to you is to discuss your dream recall with your doctor, to rule out the possibility of a sleep disorder.  Once that’s been ruled out, check your sleep environment.  You mentioned that it used to be common for you to sleep in your truck.  That’s certainly not an idea environment.  Is your bed at home comfortable?  Is your sleeping area quiet, cool and dark?  Is your current sleep schedule regular?

Also, be sure to avoid alcohol, caffeine and tobacco a few hours before bedtime, as they can disrupt your sleep patterns.  Sleep aids, including those sold over the counter, should also be avoided.