Does stress increase dream vividness and awareness?

Right now I’m in the middle of a very stressed period (exams and such), and during such periods there’s always something peculiar happening with my dreams: dream recall is mostly reduced to fragments, but those fragments are unusually vivid. They’re from a vividness I normally experience only once in a few weeks, but now it almost happens every night.
Also, in most of the fragments I recall from last week there was a heightened dream awareness. I didn’t become lucid (only prelucid a few times), but there was always present a subtle feeling telling me the dream events are not what they appear to be… although I never listened to that feeling; it was just there.

Does anyone else experience this unusual dreaming during periods of stress? Could there be an actual link between stress and dream vividness/lucidity? If so, how?

Post your thoughts :smile:

Wow I was just considering posting somthing like this. right now I am in a high stress mode because of finals week at school, and last night I had wierd dreams, usually my dreams make “some” sense but last night they were REALLY vivid and VERY long, I only had 6 hours of sleep but it felt like days in the dream. I only remembered fragments however. They were really meaningful though, on the personal level. sometimes in the dream I felt relaxed, and other times extremely sad, even Lonelyness.

When we go into REM the stuff we learn is put into long term memory, but what if all we do that day is recall things. So the stuff put into long term memory are these recalls that we made throughout the day on a final or whatnot. But these memorys are already there, so the brain is only doing the dream thing and not the storing thing. (abstract idea I know)

Or perhaps because we were recalling things all day and trying to picture them in our head. our imagination muscles are in a sense “warmed up” and thus the dreams become more vivid. Dunno just afew thoughts

I found out very similar thing…
For some time,recently i was under very heavy heavy stress.I knew that it will prolly find reflection in my dreams so i gave up everything i was doing about my recall for sake of not remembering my dreams.I was simply afraid i may dream about recent happenings in my life and waking up will be too painfull.
But regardless of how much pot i have smoked and how short my sleep was the dreams were there and vivid.
Guess there must have been a reason for my subcounciousness to keep knocking on my head like this…was it to help me?to calm me?dont know…
My life is back to some kind of routine now and dreams have stopped to be this vivid and long.Weird,allways thought you need to have calm and relaxed mind in order to remember them.

You could be onto something, WhiteWolf :smile: Makes sense too… the fact that we’re doing lots of brain massage during exams creates more alpha waves, higher alertness and focussing, higher creativity perhaps, etc… So a higher mental activity during the day prolongs during the night with a higher dream vividness as a visible outcome. Lol so if you want really vivid dreams, try to create a stressed atmosphere all day long. Pretend you’re having exams tomorrow and keep focussed on those difficult math problems you need to know. Would be great to test :smile:

I have noticed that if I keep my brain very active druing the evening I have a much higher chance of getting lucid. But I suppose that’s similar to stress.

Perhaps in stead of faking stressing for exams you could better read some interetsing but difficult material you are interested in… or perhaps play some chess with someone who ordinarily beats you, or something like that. Should give your brain the same “massage”, especially usefull when you do it in the evening, shouldnt it?

I have just been through the most stressful period of my life. This period has also included the coolest dreams I have had since early childhood.

Yes you’re right Xetrov.
On the other hand, it is known that if you go straight to bed after a stressful day of studying, you’ll probably have difficulties falling asleep. So it’s always best to relax for a little while before going to sleep in order to have the best results. It is also known that the best way to remember the stuff you’ve learned, is to have a good night of sleep, because the sleeping process actively stores the newly gathered information in your brain. The increased storaging which is going on in your brain at night could then also have its impact on your dreams.

Had an exam today and again I had an astonishingly vivid, even dramatic dream: the whole house burned down after I woke up seeing two brilliant flashes of light in the distance. There was chaos everywhere and I had to comfort some people because they were all panicking… Very distorted dream :bored:

Usually when I’m stressed it goes between deep sleep and lucid with ND inbetween.

I think you guys are on to something with the creative “exercise”(maybe explain why those like freud had such an active dream life), but I think it’s also the brain just venting. In the same way punching a pillow may help when you’re angry living out your fantasies or bringing your stress out in your dreams, helps you to keep mentally sane. I can’t remember who conducted the experiment(possibly LaBerge), but a study showed that those who were woken during REM periods, but still slept through the other cycles, suffered from paranoia and hallucinations and such, possibly because their brain had no way to vent.

When people are stressed they tend to be very emotional and this flooding of emotions can defiantly help with creative endeavors like dreaming. So what you are purposing could be possible. I know my creative writing is much better when stressed or having a lot of emotions.

However, for me high stress and lucid dreaming seldom go well together. But that is just me. We are all different.

I also have been noticing that lately with me. I’m approaching the midterm exams week right now and it is freaking me out; however, I kept on getting a lot of inspiring and extremely vivid dreams to help me out. In some case, it helps me to feel better about how everything are going. By next Friday… all will be over… pffft I’d be singing if I pass all exams. Scary! >_<

So, yeah I have to agree… it does happen when I’m stressful- vivid dreams full of emotions. :panic:

Maybe they are just pissed off for being constantly woken up in the night!!

I have just come back from a week of holiday (and I was expecting to do alot of dreamwork!)… and during the week I remembered very little or no dreams at all… I was anxious about coming back to work… cause lets face it… who wants to work? Anyways… last night (being a Sunday night for me here!) I remebered 5 dreams… (none lucid… but one was very nightmarish FA and it scared me enough to wake me up for real!)

So, I must agree - there is something to be said about stressful situations and anxiety feeding our minds and increaseing dream recall.

Does anybody actually feel refreshed from a night of stress and dreams? For me, I felt like crap this morning!

most definetly. the most vivid dreams ive ever had have been under a great deal of stress. you knwo waht i think it is? i think its because you become much more conscioues in your wwaking life when you are stressed, you are actually thinking, and using your brain all of the time, whether brooding of a girl, or about all the lsd you just took.

i believe that in many shamanistic cultures tehy use stressful ordeals all of the time to increase awareness in general, which goes to prove my theory a little bit.

I’m really amazed how many of you actually experienced some positive effects of a stressful life, which is actually recommended against on the LD4all site (lol). The idea of stress influencing emotionality is also quite interesting. I think it might be important what kind of stress it is. During the last few months I’ve had a lot of (negative) stress from work, while still being able to sleep about 8 hours per night. It rather killed dream recall than increasing it. I’ve not been able to remember any dream for weeks, let alone any LD. Apart from this, I did not observe any increased emotionality. But I can remember a time when I had quite a different (still negative) kind of stress due to exams which was sometimes so intense that it bordered fear. This kind of stress probably did something positive for my dreams, as well as it did affect emotions.

I’ve had very few nightmares in my life until a while ago when I was stressed. In the dream I kept seeing things that weren’t there (like hallucinations), attacking me. When I woke up I couldn’t remember anything specific except it scared me a lot :sad: It’s happened about 3 times since, always when I’m particularly anxious or down about something.

Better recall and vividness must be due to our mind working intensively on solutions.I hardly see any other solution.

I recall when I had my first dream saga that I had moved a few blocks away from my grandmother. It is a really violent area, there’s some druggie next door who screams and knocks on doors in the middle of the night. When I first moved in this really made me nervous.

Stress most definetly increases awareness , when I get into a stressful situation in a dream I sometimes realize that it is a dream, or it becomes horribly life-like.