The later the hour, the stranger the dream

The later the hour, the stranger the dream

A good night’s sleep is always ideal. But it also may lead to having very interesting and intricate dreams whether you like it or not.

Scientists at two universities followed the dream patterns of 16 people over two nights in a study published in the American Psychological Association journal. Researchers found the longer someone slept, the stranger, more emotional and more in-depth their dreams became. The dreamers were awakened four times a night and asked to describe their dreams.

Whether that is a dream about flying through the air like a super hero or nightmares of being chased by a crazed killer, those thoughts are more likely to happen the deeper you’re sleeping, the study shows.

Participants were awoken in their early sleep cycles between 30 minutes to two hours, between two-and-half to four hours, four-and-a-half to six hours and finally late night sleep between six-and-a half to eight hours. Once woken up, each person described their dreams and completed a form for every dream. In total, the study collected 51 dreams.

The later they were woken up, people experienced an increase of peculiar and off-the-wall dreams, while the early part of the night people dreamed about more realistic everyday activities like taking care of errands or working.

“There are a lot of factors why someone might have bizarre dreams or nightmares,” says Dr. Naresh K Upadhyay, a pulmonary physician at Advocate Trinity Hospital in Chicago. “If you are depressed and your mind wonders toward those feelings at night, you may have the dreams where someone is chasing after you and terrible things are happening. Also, if you are stressed, the same things can happen.”

Upadhyay says the reverse occurs too that if you are happy, you tend to sleep better and experience happier dreams. Another tip is staying away from late night from caffeine.

Medical officials believe clinical studies are essential in detecting patterns about a person’s life or to discover a previously undetected ailment.

“People come in for sleep studies and that is when they find out that they have sleep apnea or other conditions,” says Upadhyay. “Good sleep is essential to all of us and people who have sleep apnea don’t get good sleep. If you don’t get good sleep, you don’t tend to have many dreams; good or bad.”

The American Psychological Association, which published the research, is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States. It has nearly 130,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students as its members.

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  1. I can attest to this! I always have the most vivid, most impactful dreams early in the morning–especially if I go to sleep earlier. Glad I’m not alone!

  2. I think the new Basis Peak activity tracker looks interesting. It’s supposed to measure the types of sleep you’re getting throughout the night. It would be interesting to compare your dreams to the sleep feedback from the Basis.

  3. During difficult times I find myself dreaming of approaching large bodies of water or it just appears, I can’t swim but yet someone is always there to resue me. Once I wake up I feel so overwhelmed. And as Dr Upadhyay stated when I can’t sleep well I don’t dream or I can’t remember if I did. Lately I haven’t had these dreams but winter is coming so who knows…

  4. Interesting — thanks for sharing!

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.