Do Dreams Affect Sleep Quality?

Dreams may not be so sweet if they are impacting your quality of sleep. We all dream each night, whether the dreams are remembered or not. Many Americans are chronically sleep-deprived. It’s important to have an understanding of ideal sleep and how our sleeping patterns may impact overall health and wellness. 

How Dreams Work

Everyone dreams anywhere from 3 to 6 times each night. Dreaming is normal and a healthy part of sleeping. Dreams are a series of images, stories, emotions and feelings that occur throughout the stages of sleep. The dreams that you remember happen during the REM cycle of sleep. REM means rapid eye movement. The REM sleep happens approximately 90 minutes after you have fallen asleep and lasts around ten minutes. The brain is very active at this point and that is when the more memorable dreams happen. 

It seems that often, dreams occur as a way for us to play out events that happened during the day. They seem to be a response to an experienced environment. If one has something stressful or particularly sad happen to them during the day, they are more likely to dream about it at night. There are now some studies that suggest dreaming helps the brain with its memory function. They help with cognition and your ability to process events – “…dreaming is a natural extension of waking conscious experience.1

There are many theories about what we dream and why. Whatever the case, what should be of particular importance to an individual is not necessarily what they dream about but how it impacts sleep quality. 

The Impact of Dreams

On Sleep

While dreaming is normal, there can be some abnormal parts of dreaming that interfere with sleep or overall mental health. For example, if you experience vivid dreams immediately after you have fallen asleep, it could be a sign of a sleep condition called narcolepsy

Dreams do not typically negatively impact sleep, but nightmares can. The way they influence sleep is that it can make it more difficult to fall asleep and cause difficulty in moving between sleep cycles.2  This can make a person drowsier during the day. 

On Daily Life

Good and bad dreams can impact daily life. Frequent nightmares may impede a person’s ability to fall asleep and then cause sleepiness during the day. Dreaming can also aid in a person’s ability to process others’ positive emotions, making the individual have a higher level of social competence

Not dreaming may mean you are not reaching REM sleep and therefore may cause higher rates of sleepiness, depression and health issues. It seems to be that those who have negative dreams also have higher rates of stress during the day and are more likely to have sleep disorders. Likewise, those who have positive dreams are less likely to have sleep disorders. Though, it’s difficult to know the cause. Regardless, trying to think positively during the day may help the types of positive or negative dreams that occur at night.3

Night Terrors and Nightmares

Night terrors and nightmares are two different types of dreams. Night terrors show up as someone thrashing or groaning in the middle of their sleep due to a negative dream and are associated with non-REM sleep. It typically occurs in children. They do not wake up due to the night terror, although it may last 10-30 minutes. Nightmares are a negative type of dream that causes one to wake abruptly and is associated with the REM sleep cycle. It can happen to anyone of any age. Sleep deprivation can cause an increase in nightmares

There are many different things that can factor into the quality of your sleep, so feel free to reach out to ASMS if you’re curious about how you can improve your sleep quality today!


  2. Paul, F., Schredl, M., & Alpers, G. W. (2015). Nightmares affect the experience of sleep quality but not sleep architecture: an ambulatory polysomnographic study. Borderline personality disorder and emotion dysregulation, 2, 3. doi:10.1186/s40479-014-0023-4
  3. Weinstein, N., Campbell, R., & Vansteenkiste, M. (2018). Linking psychological need experiences to daily and recurring dreams. Motivation and emotion, 42(1), 50–63. doi:10.1007/s11031-017-9656-0


  1. Vishal Reply

    Great work. Stay ahead.

  2. Vishal Kaushik Reply

    Wow…Really Very nice content. I appreciate.

  3. Linda Rodriquez Reply

    I am constantly dreaming I believe all night long. I dream about my dead relatives and I talk to them but they don’t respond verbally. I also dream I misplace my handbag a lot and always looking for it. I dream of younger men attracted to me. I dream about people I don’t know and scenarios I have never been in before. I dream of my children when they were young. My dreams are so very real I wonder if I am really asleep. I can’t go one night without dreaming. How can I stop the dreams and where do they originate from? Help please.

    • SoCalLu Reply

      Hi Linda, I found this article because I am looking for answers & solutions to stop my dreaming – EVERY NIGHT like you. I remember dreaming from a very young age. The only time I don’t dream is during a daytime nap. Either way, I can drop off to sleep quite easily. I wish I could not dream every night. Is it related to OCD? Too much melatonin produced naturally in my body? Have I had that much daytime stress every day my entire life? I’ve always been an early to bed person with calming wind down routines.

  4. Cruz Reply

    I appreciate your insightful article but I have to ask you, why some people dream every night they pass while others don’t?

  5. Shreya patel Reply

    I am enjoying my dreams and I can remember many of that which are last and in early mornings. In my dreams I am saving others or doing help to them. I dream about someone is attracted to me. I dream that I am enjoying with friends which are not known, enjoying in new cities. I am 27 year old but still school days are coming in my dream. Lion ,war , cycling, losted the way, love, traveling, family unction with family members, ofc colleagues these are the topics of my dream. In few of dream am afraid from something and in few am saving others lives. So is that good or negative dreams or is that due to active mind? I just want to know should I continue to see dreams or need to do something to stop. Yeah and I can see colorful dreams. Few are black and white.

  6. john figel Reply

    It seems like I dream many times a night and wake up frequently from them. I don’t start immediately dreaming when I initially fall asleep but when I wake from them and fall back i seem to start dreaming right away. I get about 6 1/2 hours of sleep but it is interrupted usually during a dream. The next day my head doesn’t feel right. Pressure at the occipital area with neck stiffness. Some slight dizziness and tiredness. I have had severe insomnia for 4 years and started getting my sleep back 6 months ago but now the dreams seems to be the issue with disruption of my sleep. I have been off the meds for sleep for months now (Benzos and Nortriptyline). I take occasional Benadryl but not often.

    • Mel Reply

      I have the same issues. I wake up every two hours it seems from a dream and I have pain in and under my eyes from lack of sleep. Have tried so many meds, always a side effect.

      • Zeke Reply

        Hi, Mel i have been experiencing the same issues for like 5 months now… Have you found any kind of solution to the problem or find out what it is? The eye pain/tiredness is what drives me crazy the most and hope theirs some kind of cure for this sleep issue

  7. Frankie Atienza Reply

    I need advice every night when I try to fall sleep I always dreaming sometime I remember that happen, I feel hard to breath when I dream badly like fighting and some my love ones travel any part, what can u give advice for this. Thanks for returning

  8. Fiona Reply

    THE MAN THAT CURED MY TWO YEARS HERPES VIRUS THAT ALMOST TOOK MY LIFE, EMAIL: [[[[robinson.buckler (at) y a h o o .com]]]]..!

  9. Taiz Reply

    I am also someone who dreams almost every night. Sometimes i wish i would stop dreaming but then i would start missing dreaming. I can say i kinda love dreaming but sometimes my dreams go to far and that i don’t like as much. But i can say when i tell people my dreams they are jealous because they can never remember their dreams and that’s where i feel special!

  10. Ehima Mgbeken Reply

    Bad Dreams Make Me Sleep Better

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