Why You May Be Having Vivid Dreams During Your Pregnancy

Since time immemorial, humans have been trying to understand dreams. According to TIME, the ancient Greeks and Romans believed that the future could be predicted in dreams, and the ancient Egyptians turned to what they called trained dreamers to make decisions and help them plan for any impending battles. In modern-day culture, psychiatrist Carl Jung explained dreams as "shaped energy" that found its way into the subconscious while we slept, turning itself into stories in the brain, without any deeper meaning than that.

Although it's still up for debate as to whether or not dreams can offer insight into what's down the road or are just stories that play out in our subconsciousness, what is known is that dreams are affected by a number of different factors including what we eat, the medications we take, our daily activities, and other aspects of our lives (via Healthline). So, it should come as no surprise that pregnancy can influence the dreams we have too.

Hormones and your sleep cycle play major roles

Considering the impact hormones have on the human body — even when someone isn't pregnant — it only makes sense that hormones would affect the physical, emotional, and mental state of a person, and would play with their subconscious, too. According to the American Pregnancy Association, the hormones that are raging through your body when you're pregnant impact your emotions, anxiety level, and the way your brain arranges information. Because of the increase in hormonal production, your emotions aren't just affected during your waking hours but also when you sleep, leading to intensified and more vivid dreams. Pregnant people also dream more frequently due to these hormones.

But it's not just hormones that are dangling these strange and sometimes stressful dreams into your subconscious, but the shift in your sleep cycle contributes to them as well. Many women struggle to sleep comfortably when they're pregnant, especially as the pregnancy progresses. Without the proper amount of deep sleep, there's less REM sleep being had (via Sleep Foundation). REM (rapid eye movement) sleep is essential for physical and mental health. Without enough of it, your dreams can become creepy, overly sexual, and a little too weird for comfort.

The fragility of your emotional state

Pregnancy really impacts one's emotional state. Things that wouldn't have bothered you before you were pregnant now stress you out, and concerns that may have never entered your mind before are now living rent-free in your head 24/7. It's completely normal for your emotions to be all over the place, thanks to your hormones, and they only get more complicated as you inch along toward your third trimester and your nervousness becomes more heightened.

A study published in the scientific journal Sleep Medicine found that, during their last trimester, 32% of pregnant women reported having weekly nightmares and 21% experienced multiple nightmares a week.

"You have these dreams, and you're like, 'What in the world? Where did that come from?'" Dr. Julie Levitt, an OB-GYN and clinical instructor at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago, tells Live Science. "I think it's based on things people might worry about on a day-to-day basis. A lot of the daytime fears that we walk around with tend to reveal themselves in dreams at night."

But while pregnancy dreams may be so vivid as to be intrusive in your daily life, it's important to realize it's part of the journey of being pregnant and they won't eventually go away. Once you deliver your baby, and your hormones and sleep cycle begin to get back on track to non-pregnancy levels, you'll see those vivid dreams start to fade. You might even find yourself missing them. Or maybe not.