Dreams can be a mirror of our mental, emotional and even physical health issues. We all know that when our lives are disturbed, our dreams can become nightmares. But experts at the The National Sleep Foundation says that very often your dreams tap into underlying health issues.
In fact, according to an article in Psychology Today, research finds that some dreams can forecast illness years in advance. This theory, while only recently researched, is not new. Aristotle, the Greek philosopher, once stated in 300 B.C.:
“The beginnings of diseases and other distempers which are about to visit the body must be more evident in the sleeping state.”
Here are four examples:
- If you are a diabetic and experience vivid dreams, this may signal that your blood sugar is too low. A sudden drop in blood sugar levels, called hypoglycemia, can trigger lucid dreaming that can seem larger than life. Make sure you take your medication as needed and eat lean protein at dinner, avoiding all sugary snacks before bedtime.
- Waking up from a dream in a cold sweat can indicate an oncoming cold or flu. When you experience feverish dreams, it means that your immune system, while going through its periodical body scan, has detected something wrong in certain areas of the body. It then sends biochemical materials called pyrogens to travel through your bloodstream and reach the area of the brain that regulates body temperature. However, when you are in the rapid eye movement or REM cycle of your sleep, the body has trouble regulating temperature so you may experience a sweat-inducing dream sequence as your body temperature rises.
- Sleep apnea, a condition where breathing is interrupted throughout the night, can wreak havoc with your REM cycle of sleep, where dreams occur. If you haven’t been able to remember a dream in a while, you may be suffering from this potentially deadly disorder that’s linked to other physical issues, such as heart disease. Very often people with sleep apnea don’t realize they have it so if you suspect that your lack of dreaming may be caused by this condition speak to your doctor or sleep specialist.
- When you are stressed and anxious, your REM sleep cycle is affected because you may be having trouble falling asleep — and staying asleep — with all those thoughts swirling through your head. You may experience less dreaming or you may also experience scary dream situations like appearing in public naked, or having your teeth fall out. Falling is another typical dream scenario caused by stress and anxiety. Speak to your doctor or a sleep specialist to uncover the cause of your stressful issues and learn how to cope with them so you can enjoy a restful night’s sleep.
“Changes in the body at a subconscious level can correspond with sudden shifts in dream content,” says Michelle Carr, Ph.D., in Psychology Today. “In particular, dreams of unexpected memories, repeated physical injury, or lengthy dreams with bizarre or violent imagery could indicate impending illness. Paying attention to these unusual dream experiences could enable you to prepare the first defense against an oncoming illness.”