Picture this. You are standing naked, pregnant in the middle of busy morning coffee shop ... when all of a sudden, you wake up! Strange, vivid pregnancy dreams are a common finding over the course of your three trimesters, so if you’ve experienced this, you’re not alone! There are explainable reasons why this is happening, including hormone changes, waking up throughout the night more often, and everyday pregnancy anxiety.
Let’s start with hormones (which seem to be the reason behind most pregnancy issues). Estrogen and progesterone levels are much higher during pregnancy, and it is thought that these hormones affect the way we sleep. How these hormones directly affect our REM sleep cycles (the stage of sleep where most dreaming actually occurs) seems to be a little across the board. An anonymous author from pregnancy-info.net shares that estrogen and progesterone lengthens the REM sleep cycle, resulting in greater time for our minds to dream. Other authors such as David Warmflash (expert staff writer in pregnancy health) states that progesterone, while enhancing general sleepiness in pregnant women, actually decreases the amount of REM sleep and affects the overall quality of sleep pregnant women experience. With this idea, maybe it’s possible that this shortened/interrupted REM cycle is causing women to wake up mid-dream and cause these rather vivid dreams?
On top of hormones affecting your quality of sleep, it is far too common for expecting mothers to wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, grab some water or readjust their sleeping positions for comfort. Each time we wake up mid-sleep we are again interrupting our sleep cycles. If you happen to be in a deep sleep when your baby rolls over onto your bladder, it’s pretty likely that your body will wake you up a little earlier than expected, possibly mid-dream.
Anxiety has a huge correlation with dreams while pregnant. Carolyn Winget and Frederic Kapp conducted dream studies measuring pregnant vs. non-pregnant women and found a high percentage of pregnant women’s dreams revolving around a common theme of anxiety.