What are fever dreams and why do they happen?

Dreams, strange as they are, usually don’t disturb us or wake us up, startled, in the middle of the night. When we are sick, however, the subconscious can end up causing a very unpleasant kind of trip, leaving us with a bad feeling when we wake up, whether in the morning or suddenly at dawn – often, fever dreams are vivid and quite bizarre.

  • Why Science Recommends Recording Our Dreams in a Journal
  • Did you have strange dreams after taking the vaccine? Here goes the explanation!
Dreams are a normal part of the sleep cycle, but when they're fever dreams they can be very uncomfortable (Image: Twenty20photos/Envato)
Dreams are a normal part of the sleep cycle, but when they’re fever dreams they can be very uncomfortable (Image: Twenty20photos/Envato)

Dreams, REM and the fever

Our dreams come about naturally in a stage of sleep called REM, short for rapid eye movement, when the eyeballs can be seen moving a lot under the lids. Although dreams are quite mysterious, scientists believe that they are part of the memory consolidation process and help with our perception of reality.

Fever dreams, on the other hand, can reach nightmare status, bringing out the most morbid creativity our minds have to offer. There is, in science, no evidence that they do any kind of harm other than the mental disturbance they leave after we wake up, but their connection with high body temperatures and diseases, yes, it is dangerous.

🇧🇷
Podcast Porta 101: the Canaltech team discusses relevant, curious, and often controversial issues related to the world of technology, internet and innovation every fortnight. Be sure to follow.
🇧🇷

The ideal temperature for a healthy body varies: you may have heard that it averages 37°C. This information comes from the German physician Carl Reinhold August Wunderlich, who defined the number in a book from 1868. More recent research has noted a decrease in this data, currently standing at 36.6 °C.

Graph showing overall time spent in each sleep stage within each cycle: non-REM and REM sleep alternate, sometimes with small awakenings (Image: Schlafgut/CC-BY-SA-3.0)
Graph showing overall time spent in each sleep stage within each cycle: non-REM and REM sleep alternate, sometimes with small awakenings (Image: Schlafgut/CC-BY-SA-3.0)

When the body temperature goes beyond that, we go into overheating, which causes very unpleasant effects on the body. It could be the result of an infection or illnesses, which, when treated, usually return the body to normal temperature, also eliminating strange dreams.

One of the key causes of fever dreams is our propensity to wake up in the middle of the night when we are sick: normally, sleep cycles alternate, passing through several REM phases, which erase memories of the previous dream at each turn. Abruptly waking up, we ended up with a more vivid memory of what we were dreaming, leaving the bizarre feeling that we were experiencing the strange events of sleep.

Another cause is stress. Many people reported having weirder dreams during the new coronavirus pandemic, for example. More directly, overheating itself may also play a role: it disrupts normal cognitive functions, making the brain’s job more difficult. It will, in short, become more complicated to keep bad things out of your mind and dreams.

To treat the root cause of fever dreams, which can even turn into nightmares, it's good to go to the root — both the illness and the stress (Image: twenty20photos/envato)
To treat the root cause of fever dreams, which can even turn into nightmares, it’s good to go to the root — both the illness and the stress (Image: twenty20photos/envato)

What to do to stop fever dreams?

To put an end to unpleasant overnight trips, the most practical solution is to nip the problem in the bud by treating the illness that afflicts the body and causes the temperature to rise — or by focusing on the causes of stress. If it’s something simple, like a sore throat or the flu, just take medicine and rest. If you have a fever and cannot identify the causes, the usual recommendation is: seek the help of a doctor.

Read the article on Canaltech.

Trending on Canaltech:

  • 10 sites that were very successful and no longer exist
  • Pay-TV operators block Anatel’s proposal for TV Box
  • What is the difference between tomography and magnetic resonance imaging?
  • What are the 10 cheapest 5G phones of 2022?
  • The 10 most watched series of the week (11/20/2022)
  • Sheep are caught walking in circles for 12 days straight

Leave a Reply