For long as I can remember, I have been prone to experiencing intense dreams and nightmares. Some range from dreaming of sliding down the sides of skyscrapers, to others that take me to places of my childhood, and then even to some of watching people get bitten by snakes in what seems is hell (a little concerning, I know).
Wild dreams can affect your sleep schedule, anxiety/ stress, ability to feel well rested, and more. Some people have relatively normal dreams that cause an inability to recall after they wake up, or just leave a slight feeling with no major emotional distress, but on a regular basis I experience startlingly real dreams which get compounded with memories of reality and often leave me in cold sweats, anxiety, and the occasional artistic breakthrough.
And I know I'm definitely not the only one that experiences this.
Turns out that not many professionals seem to know exactly why we have vivid dreams in the first place, but most of what they can gather from current findings is of dream's correlation to memory, the synthesis of information last thought of before entering sleep, and most notably, that most intense dreaming usually happens during REM sleep ( which cycles every 90 minutes and lasts about 25 minutes).
And of course, just about everyone has dreams at some points in their sleep whether we remember or not- but some things can trigger really vivid dreams (like what I usually experience) such as hormone changes, eating spicy or sugary foods before you go to sleep, exercise, medications, narcolepsy, other medical conditions, stress, etc.
In addition, dreams can be a reflection or processing of feelings, images, or ideas that you thought about a lot that day, or even what you last thought of before you went to sleep in the first place.
This makes a lot of sense for my dreams as well, since nighttime is when I am most creative in thought- I draw, read, scroll on my phone, and watch TV, and I'm sure that's partly why there is no shortage of excitement and intensity in my dreams at night. I get nightmares after a day of being stressed out or of anticipation, and have wildly imaginative dreams after processing an idea for a painting, and in this way, I suppose one could say that my art and dreams inevitably become intertwined and inspire each other.
If you are curious about what your dreams mean beyond the scope of being a reflection of your thoughts and believe that your dreams might be cues and mini vision of what is to come, there are many websites and books dedicated to decoding what your dreams and nightmares might mean.
There is still so much to know about the function of the brain, especially pertaining to dream state, where we 'go' when we sleep, and even if we can control what happens and where go in our dreams. For now, however, I just know I am going to move eating cake and watching dateline for another time other than doing so right before my head hits my pillow.
I'm just going to try holding onto sweet and heartwarming memories and happy things at the end of a long day to try to give myself some peace in my sleep- and maybe this could work for you too!