Why do we have nightmares when we have a fever?
Suffering a hot fever is bad enough without having to deal with nightmares too.
Asked by: Anonymous
Temperature affects the way your brain works, and fever can produce waking hallucinations and vivid imagery as well as nightmares.
Some people find that too much spicy food leads to nightmares, and this may also be because it raises body temperature. Our temperature varies throughout the day, and is especially low just before the onset of sleep. Then, during REM (rapid-eye-movement) sleep when most dreams occur, temperature control is very poor.
So having a fever can lead to a much higher temperature than normal during REM sleep, and it is this that causes the over-activity manifested in our minds as vivid and scary dreams.
Subscribe to BBC Focus magazine for fascinating new Q&As every month and follow @sciencefocusQA on Twitter for your daily dose of fun science facts.
May Half Price Sale
- Save up to 52% when you subscribe to BBC Science Focus Magazine.
- Risk - free offer! Cancel at any time when you subscribe via Direct Debit.
- FREE UK delivery.
- Stay up to date with the latest developments in the worlds of science and technology.