Lately I’ve been having lots of dreams. Considering I spend a large portion of each day drifting in and out of hazy sleep, this isn’t too surprising. What is surprising, however, is just how realistic these dreams tend to be.
Over the past several months, my dreams have become incredibly vivid. I’ve had ultra-realistic dreams before, but never with this much regularity. Often, but not always, the dreams are nightmares. Sometimes these nightmares are terrifying, but often they’re more sad than scary. So much so that I frequently wake up with tears running down my face.
Even before my dreams turned extra vivid, I frequently awoke with no idea about where I was, who my loved ones were, or anything else about my life. These dreams being so realistic isn’t exactly helping with that. It frequently takes me 30 minutes to a couple of hours to figure out where I am, with my mind searching for and settling on several wrong locations before finally getting it right.
I recently read in several places that vivid/realistic dreams can be a symptom of ME. I’m wondering how many of my ME readers have similar experiences, so I figured I’d write about it. I don’t know if there’s anything we can do about it, but still. Sometimes it’s nice just knowing you’re not alone in a particular symptom. So how about it? If you have ME, have you noticed yourself having lots of extra vivid dreams since becoming ill? If so, did they start immediately after developing ME, or did it take awhile? Are most of the dreams good, bad, neutral, scary, sad…? Any themes you may have noticed? Leave your comments below. Let’s talk about dreams!
8 thoughts on “Vivid Dreams”
When I was very severely affected, my dreams were so vivid and my cognitive symptoms so severe that I’d struggle to tell the difference between dreams and real life. On one occasion I had a vivid recollection of a friend telling me they had cancer (which turned out to be a dream) and only a vague memory of hearing another friend was getting a divorce (which turned out to be true). I didn’t want to ignore either piece of news if there was a chance they could be real, but phoning to ask “did you tell me you had cancer?” Is likely to cause a great deal of upset whether they have cancer or not.
I’m afraid I don’t have any advice about how to deal with them, but judging by other ME sufferers I’ve spoken to it seems vivid, confusing or terrifying dreams are incredibly common particularly among the severely affected.
Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have the same confusion issue between dream reality and real reality at times, but didn’t think to mention it in the original post. For some reason I associated it with ME confusion (ie cognitive problems), but not with the vivid dreams themselves. I was putting all the blame on the cognitive issues, but you’re absolutely right, part of the problem is most likely due to how extremely realistic the dreams are themselves. I don’t know why I didn’t make that connection – sometimes my brain misses the most obvious things!
Thankfully, I’m usually able to ask my husband to clarify when I get confused over whether or not something really happened, but once in awhile it’s something he wouldn’t know about, so I end up just keeping my eyes and ears open for any further mention of what may or may not have happened if it’s a sensitive issue. Not the most ideal situation, but like you said, better than offending people.
I’m glad to hear you’re also seeing this as a pattern in other severely affected ME sufferers. Someone on Twitter read this and told me a neurologist they saw on TV said the brain lets us know through sad or scary dreams that our bodies are not okay, so I suppose that might fit as well. Perhaps the super vivid nature is due to the multisystemic nature of ME, or perhaps it is our brain trying to make up for the lack of vivid, varied activity in the daily lives of those severely restricted… Who knows? I’m just glad to know it’s not just me! Thank you again for sharing your experience with this. It definitely helped me connect a few more dots!
Hi. I found you through Dannilion. I’ve always had vivid dreams, but since I became ill they have gotten progressively more intense and frequent. Most of the time they are good, or at least really interesting. Because I’m so limited in real life, I tend to want to stay in my dream state, just to see what happens next. It’s like watching really good movies, or a TV series where you got very invested in the characters. When I wake up, I often want to force myself back to sleep, in case I can “catch up where I left off” and continue the story line.
I think that if I had a really interesting life, my dreams would be very boring. That’s my theory, anyway.
Thank you for sharing your experience here. I know Dannilion – I love her blog and tweets! 🙂 I totally hear what you’re saying about sometimes wanting to go back into your dreams. Being bedbound with ME, life can be extremely painful and monotonous at times. Sometimes I’d rather just go to sleep and dream, because in my dreams I can continue to go places and do things which are impossible in daily life. I tend to slip in and out of sleep most of the time anyway, so I do spend a lot of time dreaming. It’s not so fun when the dreams are negative, but positive dreams can be a real blessing for people in our situation, for sure! Sometimes I try visualization while awake, too, but I’m not always able to concentrate, so dreams are definitely preferable… Thanks again for stopping by!
Yes! So vivid, I even remember the pizza toppings in my dream last night. I don’t feel confused when I wake up between what I dreamt and what actually happened but I feel like I have to fight my way out of dreams to wake up, telling myself it is just a dream, thrashing around to wake up out of it and it lingering after I wake it. If I go back to sleep, I go right back into the same dream. I’ve always remembered by dreams but never had to fight to escape them them before. I’d attributed it to medication but perhaps it is the ME (although mine is mild and improving).
Sweet dreams tonight (or today) xx
I know exactly what you mean about fighting to escape your dreams when you wake up. That happens to me a lot as well. It’s something I can remember happening on rare occasions when I was healthy, but never with as much regularity as it happens now. It’s definitely an odd, sort of uncomfortable feeling. I usually don’t go back into the same dream if I fall right back asleep, although sometimes it will start out as the same dream, then quickly take a completely different turn. Wouldn’t it be great if we could have total control of our dreams? That would be especially helpful for those who live with chronic illness. It would allow us to go and do all the stuff in our minds we wish we could do in real life. How cool would that be? Lol.
Thanks for telling me about your experience with vivid dreams. I hope you’re having a great week!
The first 2 years after I developed M.E. I had terrifying nightmares almost every week where I was sobbing or screaming or paralysed with fear. It didn’t help that these started around the same time I started waking with sleep paralysis.
As I get worse I get more & more long, convoluted, confused dreams which may as be set in an alternate world. People get merged & all the places I visit in real life change until they are unrecognisable & – if I’m tired enough – I get super confused the next time I go out because it wasn’t like in the dream….
Luckily I struggle to remember much I don’t blog so my dreams often vanish into the aether with in a day or two…..
P.S. My mum discovered your blog & recommended it. Ever since I developed M.E. about 4 years ago I have been degenerating & we were wanting to know where it ends, what is REALLY going to happen (living in the UK I get a lot of bull about how if I’m just positive & exercise more I will get better). However scary it is, I’m glad I’ve found your blog & know where my health is going.
Thank you so much for using your energy to write this blog. You have no idea what it means to me.
Thanks for writing about this. My dreams are very real, vivid, scary and sad sometimes. Thanks!