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People like to talk about how your sleep will change when a newborn arrives but, for many, pregnancy can wreak havoc on your nights long before the baby arrives.

Between insomnia, fatigue, and just getting used to the idea of a baby on the way, you may find yourself struggling with sleep before you’ve even shared your pregnancy news.

The more tired you feel, the more your body might crave a good night’s rest. But while increasing your slumber can help you feel better, you may notice that things are different even when you are getting some sleep. It’s a common experience that your dreams change during pregnancy.

Here’s what you need to know about the different types of pregnancy dreams and changes, as well as why they might happen.

Just about everybody has dreams. They often occur during REM sleep (rapid eye movement), the deepest stage of sleep.

During dreams, you may see images and feel emotions, and some dreams can even trigger ideas. Some people remember their dreams after waking up, whereas others can have multiple dreams, yet are unable to recall a single one in the morning.

Bottom line: Dreaming is a normal, healthy part of sleep. But during pregnancy, you may notice a difference in the frequency and types of dreams you have. It’s not uncommon to remember more of your dreams, experience more vivid dreams, and even struggle with nightmares.

The following list includes common dream changes experienced during pregnancy:

More vivid dreams

Some people normally have vivid dreams during deep sleep. This can include dreams with powerful, intense emotions and clear imagery, and these dreams may seem like the events are actually happening.

But while vivid dreams can occur in anyone, pregnancy seems to spark more of these types of dreams. Rather than fuzzy images you can barely piece together, these dreams seem like real life. You may wake from these dreams needing a moment to distinguish between the dream and reality.

More frequent dreaming

Some pregnant women believe that they have more dreams during pregnancy. It is possible that they are actually dreaming more in an 8-hour sleep cycle, or the increase may be due to sleeping or napping more hours each day.

Pregnancy can cause fatigue. The more you sleep, the more you’re likely to dream.

Pregnancy or motherhood-related dreams

Life is running through your body, and naturally, you’re excited to welcome the newest addition to your family.

Because of this excitement, and perhaps a little nervousness, it’s also natural and common to have dreams involving you and your baby — as this old 1993 study found (there’s not a whole heck of a lot of research about pregnancy and dreaming!).

Carrying a baby is likely something you think about often every day, so it’s not surprising that those thoughts occur while you sleep as well. This can mean dreams about your baby already being born or dreams of holding your baby.

Some women also have dreams of their baby talking to them, dreams about naming their baby, and dreams about the sex of their baby.

Anxiety dreams

Don’t be surprised if you have anxiety-based dreams, too.

Preparing for a baby takes a lot of your time and energy. And as excited as you are, you may also be a little apprehensive.

Dreams can provide insight into some of your biggest worries and anxieties. This could be anxieties about finances, juggling a newborn and other children, and continuing to work with a newborn. You might even have anxiety about labor and delivery.

With so much on your mind, it’s only normal for your brain to tap into your worries, and for dreams to highlight your anxieties and fears.

Easier to recall dreams

During pregnancy, it might be easier for you to recall some of your dreams. Before pregnancy, perhaps you had difficulty remembering your dreams in the morning. You might have even been convinced that you didn’t dream at all.

This can all change during pregnancy when you experience greater dream recall upon waking up.

Nightmares

The same way you can have happy and exciting dreams during pregnancy, there’s also the chance of having nightmares during pregnancy.

Pregnancy nightmares aren’t uncommon, as noted in this 2016 study, and these are typically triggered by your emotions. This could be fear or anxiety about labor and delivery, or something happening to the baby.

These nightmares can take different forms. You might dream of dropping your baby or literally losing your baby. Or, if you’ve had a miscarriage in the past, you may have dreams about this happening again. Dreams about being lost or trapped are also common during pregnancy.

These types of dreams are normal, but no less distressing and bothersome.

Dream changes during pregnancy have many possible explanations. And as you likely suspect, hormonal changes are a big factor.

Fluctuating hormones during pregnancy can have a tremendous impact on your body. It’s because of hormonal changes that some pregnant women experience mood swings.

Honestly, if you find yourself sobbing because someone ate your leftovers, you won’t be the first pregnant person to do so. And in the same way hormones can make your emotions more intense, they can make dreams more intense.

Plus, hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause increased tiredness, meaning you’re likely to sleep more frequently and therefore have more dreams.

Some theories suggest that dreaming is how you store memories. And in a lot of ways, dreams act as therapy, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

Dreams can help you process information and better understand your emotions. So it’s no surprise that the intensely emotional experience of pregnancy could lead to more frequent and memorable dreams.

Recurring anxiety-based dreams and nightmares during pregnancy could be a coincidence, or it could be your brain’s way of revealing some type of fear.

One of the best ways to deal with unpleasant dreams, and hopefully reduce the frequency of these types of dreams, is to talk through them. You can do this with your doctor or a friend, or you can journal your dreams.

Being honest and open about some of your biggest fears can put anxiety into perspective. When you discuss your feelings with others, they can help you see that your concerns are normal, and in most cases, you have nothing to worry about.

Sometimes a disruption in sleep patterns can also trigger a change in dreams. To help fight this, aim to stick with a sleep schedule and take steps to get quality sleep.

Sleep tips

  • Don’t drink liquids before bed to avoid the urge to urinate in the middle of the night (any more than that extra pressure pregnancy places on your bladder already requires).
  • Keep your room dark, quiet, and at a comfortable temperature.
  • Turn off the television, close the drapes, and remove electronic devices from the room.
  • While it’s okay to nap during the day if you’re tired, avoid long naps that could keep you awake at night.
  • Take steps to relax before bed. This might mean enjoying a book, doing some deep breathing, taking a bath or shower, or listening to your favorite soothing music.

A change in dreams during pregnancy is completely normal. But if you feel that your dreams indicate an underlying problem or they are causing distress, speak with your doctor or a counselor. They’ll listen to your concerns and help you understand any fears or anxiety.