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Fever Dreams: Meaning, Causes, and Prevention

Fact Checked
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Update: May 16, 2023
8 min read

Written by

Rahul Upadhyay
Content Writer
Illustration Of Fever Dreams

Fever dreams occur when someone is suffering from a high fever. These dreams can be intense, bizarre, and also very emotionally draining. The severity of fever dreams can vary from person to person. While some people cannot recall their fever dreams, some can even remember them for years to come. Today, we are here to tell you what a fever dream is, its meaning, causes and more. Read ahead. 

What is a Fever Dream?

Fever dreams occur when a person is suffering from a high fever where one experiences vivid and often unpleasant dreams that can also be extremely bizarre. These dreams are similar to the normal ones we usually have but are more intense than them. Usually, people experience dreams during REM sleep, which happens an hour and a half after slipping into deep sleep. But fever dreams may occur at any sleep stage, and they are more vivid during REM sleep. But, are there any vivid dreams meaning? No, fever dreams are a symptom you experience when your body temperature increases. 

One study showed that our dreams contain at least one component connected to whatever we experience during the day. Therefore, it is possible that you dream about illness and heat during a fever dream. 

When do they occur?

As the name suggests, a fever dream occurs when your body temperature is higher than normal, which is between 97 and 99°F. You tend to develop a fever as your body’s response to;

  • Heat exhaustion 
  • Infection- Bacterial or Viral 
  • Drugs like antibiotics 
  • An Immunization 
  • Due to inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis 
  • A tumour 

What Happens During A Fever Dream?

Generally, people who have had fever dreams describe it as unpleasant and averse. In a 2016 study, almost 94% of participants claimed that their fever dreams were bizarre and negative. Although the fever dream is a well-known phenomenon in the medical field, we still don’t know why it occurs. 

In another 2013 study, scientists went through the symptoms of people suffering from a high fever, and almost 11% of participants experienced fever dreams as one of the symptoms. Here, one of the participants described the dream as having both distressing circumstances and a comfortable one. And you keep going back and forth from one circumstance to another. 

Usually, people who have had fever dreams even describe it as downright scary. These dreams can be strange and even emotionally troubling. During these dreams, there are fewer scenarios where you socially interact with other people like in ordinary dreams.

There was a recent online study where 164 individuals participated. In them, 100 people reported having had fever dreams. It was seen that fever dreams had more elements of temperature and health when compared to normal dreams. But most participants described their dreams as unpleasant, negative and weird. 

Do Fever Dreams Have a Meaning?

When it comes to fever dream meaning, there is no specific purpose it presents. This is one of the symptoms people with high-temperature experience. But fever dreams are usually associated with whatever you are experiencing currently. So, as aforementioned, fever dreams can be weird dreams with temperature and health elements. So, you can have both good and bad dreams but there is no bad or good fever dream meaning.

What Causes Fever Dreams?

Scientists still are not clear as to why people experience fever dreams. However, some theories can help you out. 

One theory states that when the body temperature increases, it can hamper the normal cognitive processes of the brain. So, in this study, the authors concluded that when the brain is ‘overheated,’ it may not function as it is supposed to, hence, you tend to experience intense dreams that can be bizarre and strange.

The study further explained that when we fall asleep under normal circumstances, we have vivid dreams during the REM sleep stage. Here, your body is unable to control your internal temperature. So, when you suffer from a fever, your body cannot combat this process, leading to negative or unpleasant dreams.

Some other symptoms associated with high temperature include hallucinations, where you see things that aren’t there, confusion, and irritability. 

Symptoms Of Fever Dreams

Flu dream or fever dream is a symptom of fever, a condition when your body temperature increases as a response to illness or infection. Other symptoms of fever include; 

  • Feeling extremely cold or chills 
  • Severe chills where your teeth are chattering 
  • Fatigued and weakness 
  • Feeling warm 
  • Headache 
  • Respiratory issues, such as cough or shortness of breath
  • Fever dreams or hallucinations 

So, if you have fever dreams, you may also experience other fever symptoms. Here, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. 

How to Prevent Fever Dreams

If you have been experiencing fever and nightmares or have had fever dreams once before and are wondering how to stop fever dreams, well, there is no guaranteed method to prevent them as they are a symptom of your condition. However, you may be able to minimize these dreams by bringing your body temperature down. For this, you can try-

Take prescription medications given by your doctor regularly 

If you have started having fever dreams or hallucinations due to your fever, it is essential to visit your doctor. Also, ensure you take all the medicines prescribed at the right time. This will help curb your fever soon and ensure you don’t experience any other fever dreams. 

Make sure you take plenty of rest 

When you are sick, rest is the best thing you can do. It will help you unwind and heal better. Don’t watch television or strain your eyes. Instead, try to sleep and rest as much as possible. Because headache is another symptom of fever and watching too much tv or your phone will increase the headache. 

Drink lots of water and fluids 

Drinking lots of water and fruit juices will prevent the loss of fluids and dehydration, which can occur when you are suffering from a fever.

Eat food that you will be able to digest easily 

If you are someone who has severe fever dreams, then it is possible that you might not be able to fall asleep quickly. And during a fever, your body is also weak and exhausted. Therefore, it is important to eat light meals that can support your digestion. For instance, you can opt for soups or toast.

Take a lukewarm water bath 

Taking a lukewarm bath will help bring your body temperature down and help you relax. But, always have a quick bath during the fever, so you don’t catch a cold. 

Use a humidifier 

If your room environment is dry or dusty, it can irritate your airway and make it harder to enjoy a peaceful sleep. Therefore, use a humidifier to improve the air quality of your room and add some moisture to it. 

Keep your room noise-free 

When you have a fever, any noise or light can give way to headaches and make you more irritable. While this tip will not prevent your fever dreams, it will help you create a better sleep environment so you can rest easily. 

These were some of the tips on how you can prevent fever dreams. Here, you must reduce the temperature of the body so you can get rid of these fever dreams. However, if it is getting too severe, always consult your doctor. 

How Are Fever Dreams Different From Other Dreams?

Normal dreams are usually not vivid, and most people don’t remember them after they are up. However, fever dreams can differ from other dreams as they are more vivid and intense. Also, fever dreams can be harmful and even scary. This can be because when you have a fever dream, they usually have fewer social interactions and it’s mostly just you. 

During a fever, a high temperature already makes it difficult for you to fall asleep easily. However, the disturbing nature of your fever dreams can also hamper quality sleep. Some of the common themes of a fever dream include;

  • Spatial disorientation can be one of the recurring themes where you notice moving walls, melting objects, spaces that change size and more. Sometimes, your fever dreams may have claustrophobic scenes or vertigo. 
  • You may also experience threats and dangers in your fever dreams. It can be from anything, such as dogs, stones, and terrorists. 
  • You may also dream about illnesses when you are having a fever dream, such as respiratory issues, being in pain, and more. 
  • You may dream about the high temperatures where heat and fire elements make a regular appearance. You may dream about things, such as the sky on fire or things melting. One of the reasons for this is because of the heat you are experiencing.
  • Dreams where your actions or events are getting repeated several times.
  • A fever dream can also be like watching a sci-fi movie where you are unable to make sense of what is happening and bizarre occurrences are taking place.
  • You may even experience strange dreams, which you may be able to recall even once you are doing better. 

Fever Dreams vs. Lucid Dreams 

Fever dreams are intense and vivid dreams you experience when you suffer from a high fever. Whereas lucid dream is a type of dream when you become aware that you are dreaming while in the dream. There are chances that during your fever dream you tend to become aware that you are dreaming and start lucid dreaming. 

When you are lucid dreaming, you can control your dream’s direction.

The are also similarities between the two and that is they both have a higher recall value. This means you can remember them well even after you have woken up and maybe even a few days later. Both lucid and fever dreams occur when you are in the REM sleep state. But the lucid dream is not connected to fever. 

When it comes to lucid dreaming, you will have to train yourself to practice it. You can lucid dream every day once you master the art. It is known to bring a few advantages to the table, such as enhancing your creativity and helping you get over your phobias, but that’s not the case with fever dreams.

Fever dreams are almost similar to nightmares, where you cannot control the direction of the dream and wake up can be your only respite. 

Fever Dreams vs. Nightmares

Both nightmares and fever dreams share similarities. But the main difference between the two is that you experience fever dreams when you have a high fever. And nightmares occur due to stress, anxiety, irregular sleep cycle, mental health disorders, and even PTSD. 

Both fever dreams and nightmares are scary and disturbing dreams that can awaken you feeling scared and distressed. However, when it comes to recalling these dreams, nightmares are usually difficult to remember while you may recall a fever dream even after some time has passed.

Your fever dreams tend to stop once your temperature goes back to normal, but that’s not the case with nightmares. A specific reason or an issue is the reason why you are experiencing nightmares. It can be triggered at any time and you may even experience it multiple times in a single night. So, proper treatment becomes necessary to combat the problem. Sometimes, nightmares are also triggered by watching or reading scary stories. 

Fever dreams occur when your body temperature becomes higher than 101°F. Unlike other types of dreams, fever dreams only last till your body temperature remains elevated. So, it won’t last long. But, it is not the same for everyone. 


Therefore, if you notice your fever dreams lingering longer than they should and if they are interrupting your sleep or causing any discomfort, it becomes imperative that you speak with your healthcare provider immediately.


What causes a fever dream?

A fever dream tends to occur when you have a high temperature because of the flu or fever. These dreams are your brain’s response to elevated body heat. You experience fever when a part of the brain known as the hypothalamus increases the temperature of the body to fight any pathogens. And this heat leads to fever dreams.

Are fever dreams a real thing?

Yes, if you are suffering from a fever, you may experience fever dreams as it is one of the symptoms. These dreams tend to be troubling and real-life-like. However, they are not the real thing and are just a dream. Your fever dreams vanish once your body temperature goes back to normal.

What are examples of fever dreams?

Some of the examples of fever dreams include;

  • You may feel like you are suffocating or you may feel claustrophobic where the walls are caving in or you feel something crushing you. 
  • During your fever dreams, you may also experience the feeling of being threatened when someone is out there to kill you or harm you. 
  • You may also see a dog trying to chase you or terrorists after you.

The common elements of fever dreams are heat and illness. So, you may dream about things being on fire or suffering from illnesses. However, these dreams go away on their own once your fever goes down.

Are Fever Dreams Bad?

Fever dreams can be extremely scary and unpleasant. However, it differs from person to person. Fever dreams cannot be categorized as bad as they are a symptom you experience due to high body temperature.

Why do I dream so much?

If you have been dreaming too much it can be because of daytime fatigue, strenuous physical activity, and even medications that you may be under. 

 What causes dreams?

Dreams occur due to the brainstem activation that takes place during REM sleep along with the stimulation of the emotional motor system or the limbic system.

How do dreams work?

We dream when the cortical part of the brain, which is responsible for things like language becomes active when we are asleep. This prevents the lower portion of the brain from sending messages to the body, which can lead to any activity or movement.


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Written by

Rahul Upadhyay
Content Writer
10 years of experience as a content writer Previously worked as a copywriter for a health journal Ability to write in a variety of formats, including articles, white papers, and clinical trial summaries

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