Although we like to think of sleep as a time to rest the mind, often the opposite is true. During rapid eye movement (REM) sleep our brains are fully active causing dreams and, unfortunately, nightmares.
If you’ve ever had a disturbing dream where your teeth fall out or you’re naked in public, you can thank your brain for working overtime during REM sleep, for process your emotions. This may seem like a disturbingly vivid dream that makes you question reality when you wake up.
Such a disturbing dream it is dream of pregnancy, which can include anything from dreaming of a positive pregnancy test to giving birth. Although these dreams are troubling and can leave you feeling anxious, you’re ultimately left with one pressing question: “Is this a sign that I’m really pregnant?”
When dreams feel like reality
Before we can unravel the details of your pregnancy dream, it’s important to understand why we have such vivid dreams. The average person spends over a third of their lives are spent sleeping, and they daydream much of that time. However, we do not remember all the dreams we experience. Find out spoke with Courtney Bolstad, a doctoral student in the clinical psychology program at Mississippi State, to find out why some dreams are simply more memorable than others. According to Bolstad, to remember a dream, you will need to wake up suddenly from REM sleep and stay awake for at least a few minutes. This gives your brain time to remember and process the dream.
The main reasons that cause disturbing sleep are a little more complicated. During REM sleep, when many of our dreams occur, amygdala — the part of our brain that processes emotions — and hippocampus — where memories are stored — are very active. While these areas of the brain are busy constructing dreamson prefrontal cortexwhich is the part of our brain that tries to make sense of the world around us, is inactive.
“Because the prefrontal cortex is offline while we sleep, it doesn’t do a good job of putting together a story,” says Bolstad. This explains why we get weird or strange dreams, such as pregnancy dreams, that may not always make sense.
“Dreams are funny because you can interpret them in so many different ways,” says dream expert and psychotherapist Veronica Tonay. “But in reality they tend to reflect our perceptions of ourselves and other people and the world around us.”
The good news is that your pregnancy dream has multiple meanings and is not necessarily an indicator that you are indeed pregnant. In fact, dreams of pregnancy are quite common regardless of gender or pregnancy status. Tonay says many factors come into play when a client dreams of pregnancy. “On an overt level, sleep reflects what’s going on in the world and in your physical being,” she says. “Then there’s also what’s going on inside your psyche and within yourself.”
Deciphering your pregnancy dream
Sigmund Freud was the first to draw the parallel between dreams and the subconscious mind. Freud believed that dreams reflect a person’s unconscious desires, thoughts, and motivations. The same parallel exists for anxiety dreams, which can symbolize important life changes and stressors. The dream of pregnancy imitates pregnancy because represents the creation of something new in your life. It could be the start of a new project, a new relationship, or even a big step.
Research shows that common pregnancy dreams can range from finding out you’re pregnant to giving birth or even morning sickness. Here are some common pregnancy dreams and what they may represent:
Positive pregnancy test can explore hopes and fears. Your subconscious may be preparing you to take on a big responsibility or a new venture, which can be “positive” or “negative,” as Laurie Loewenberg, a professional dream analyst, tells Cosmopolitan.
Dreams about morning sickness it can represent emotional instability regarding something in your life that is growing. However, Bolstad assures us that there is no need for alarm. “Anxiety dreams are actually very normal and are just trying to help us process the underlying emotion or stress while we sleep,” she says.
He dreams of having twins doesn’t mean you’re expecting two babies. If you feel like you’re juggling a lot of things in your life, your subconscious may be trying to point this out form of multiple fetuses. Tonai suggests that a dream about twins can also represent two sides of your own self, often known as your own self and your shady side. The shadow side are parts of us, such as personality traits, emotions and thoughts, that are difficult to accept.
Birth in a dream usually symbolizes the creation of something new. Rather than its literal meaning, this dream may express emotions about the development of something new in your life.
But what happens if you dream of pregnancy while you are pregnant in real life? It turns out there may be a biological reason for this. When you’re pregnant, your hormones fluctuate progesterone levels risewhich can cause vivid dreams.
Tonay explains that dreaming about pregnancy during pregnancy is usually a reflection of the changes in your body, the trimester you’re in, and general pregnancy anxiety. On the other hand, if you are recently experienced a pregnancy lossyour psyche may still be processing and therefore grief may arise in unexpected ways, such as a pregnancy dream.
“In any dream, you’re mostly dreaming about yourself, your own feelings, and your own life, and the characters in your dreams are perceptions of people who exist,” Tonay says. And while there is no universal explanation for every dream we experience, we can take comfort in the fact that disturbing dreams are universal.