Did you have an experience where you knew you were dreaming, but it all felt so real?
When your dream feels real, it often leaves you astounded and confused. Even if the dream was good, you might still feel shaken by the realness of the experience when you wake up.
Dreams that feel real are also known as lucid or vivid dreams. Scientists and sleep experts have not yet found a firm explanation as to why some dreams feel so real and what these dreams mean.
But, they have found some possible causes of vivid dreams. Pregnancy, mental health, and alcohol consumption can make dreams feel real. At the spiritual level, there are several interpretations of what it means when your dream feels real.
In this article, I will take you through the science-based and spiritual meanings of vivid dreams.
So, let’s get started!
What Does It Mean When Your Dream Feels Real?
1. You woke up while in REM sleep
We sleep in five cycles: stages 1, 2, 3, 4, and the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage. REM sleep begins 70 to 90 minutes after falling asleep, after which we go through several sleep cycles throughout the night.
As the night progresses, the REM sleep cycles become longer and longer. You may not always clearly remember your dreams, but you are more likely to if you wake up unnaturally while still in the REM stage.
During REM, your eyes move back and forth below the lids, and your breathing and heart rate increase. The eye movements during this sleep stage respond to images appearing in your dreams.
For this reason, if you wake up while still in the REM sleep stage, the images that your eyes respond to in your dreams will feel unusually real.
2. You are not getting enough sleep
According to sleep experts, sleep deprivation can cause your dreams to feel vivid. When you do not sleep enough, your REM cycles become longer and more intense.
This means brain activity and eye movements are heightened due to sleep deprivation. As a result of the longer REM cycle, you will remember almost every aspect of your dreams when you wake up.
If your dreams often feel real, it could indicate an unhealthy sleep schedule. Perhaps it is time to get more shut-eye if you want to minimize the occurrence of your lucid dreams.
3. You have low blood sugar
If you have vivid dreams, this could be a major sign of low blood sugar or hypoglycemia.
When the brain notices that the body is low on sugar, it kicks into a high gear of activity to create an adrenaline rush that will compensate for the low blood sugar levels.
The intense activity by your brain will translate into lucid and often weird dreams.
So, you might want to check if you are at risk of hypoglycemia, which can be potentially dangerous. Minimizing the triggers of low blood sugar can help to get rid of vivid nightmarish dreams.
4. Your pregnancy hormones are at play
If you are pregnant and your dreams feel real, this is quite normal. Pregnancy-related hormones can affect your sleep cycles, causing your dreams to be more intense and memorable.
Women are more likely to have vivid dreams when pregnant than at any other time in their life. Pregnancy also causes one to sleep more, and the more you sleep, the more dreams you have and the likelier you are to remember them.
Vivid dreams are more common in the third trimester when you get up more often throughout the night because you need to pee or due to pregnancy-related discomfort. Waking up frequently throughout the night makes it more likely for you to remember your dreams vividly.
5. A mental illness is suppressing your REM sleep cycle
Mental illness can wreak havoc on your sleep cycle. Disorders such as anxiety, stress, depression, and bipolar disease can contribute to sleep deprivation or over-sleeping, leading to horrifyingly vivid dreams.
Sleep deprivation causes REM rebound, where the brain, eyes, and body muscles overcompensate for the lack of sleep. This leads to longer and stronger REM cycles where dreams feel unusually real, albeit illogical.
Depression can cause one to sleep excessively. The longer you sleep, the longer REM cycles you will have, and the more vivid your dreams will be. This explains why it is common for someone suffering from depression to experience frequent nightmares.
6. You are undergoing a spiritual awakening
Aside from the scientific explanations of what it means when your dream feels real, there are spiritual messages that can be revealed through vivid dreams.
Lucid dreaming is one of the early signs of spiritual awakening and an opening of the third eye. The third eye helps with intuition, foreseeing, and spiritual understanding in the spiritual realm.
When your third eye opens, you can see and feel things beyond the ordinary realm and into the higher consciousness.
So, it isn’t any wonder that you can seemingly perceive things very clearly and intensely in your dreams—it is probably your third eye chakra that is opening!
7. You have high stress levels
When you are chronically stressed, you spend your waking hours contemplating the same thoughts over and over.
Dreams are usually a reflection of the events in our waking life. When you intensely think about the same things for a long time, the images of these thoughts are likely to appear in your dreams.
You may not always know that you are chronically stressed until you begin having frequent vivid dreams. So, if your dreams feel real, consider slowing down and eliminating stress triggers in your life.
8. You feel vulnerable
When your dreams feel real, it could be that you feel vulnerable and insecure in your waking life. You are worried about something, and there doesn’t seem to be a way out.
A common vivid dream of feeling vulnerable is seeing yourself falling off a cliff. Your fatal fall feels so real that you wake up with a racing heart and in a great panic.
If your dreams feel real frequently, you might want to examine your cause of vulnerability and anxiety. Chronic anxiety stems from unresolved issues, usually from your childhood, which can haunt your adulthood.
9. You feel overwhelmed by life
Did you have a lucid dream about an animal or someone chasing you? Vivid dreams about being chased and running for dear life are a common theme.
You are likely to have an unusually lifelike dream about being chased when you feel overwhelmed in your waking life.
Maybe you have too many work-related demands, have taken on too many responsibilities, or things are simply not working as you had hoped.
Being chased in your dreams symbolizes hopelessness and things catching up with you in your waking life. You are running away from all the troubles in your life, trying to get to a safe place.
10. You worry about something bad happening
Another common type of vivid dream is dreaming about you or a loved one being seriously sick.
In your dreams, you can feel the pain, discomfort, and hopelessness as you would in your waking life, only to wake up in a fit to find that you were only dreaming.
A lifelike dream about illness can leave you extremely worried when you wake up. But, this dream doesn’t mean that you or a loved one will fall sick.
Dreams about sickness usually symbolize your worry about something bad happening to you or someone close to you.
The worries you have in your waking life may be real or perceived, but they are so intense that they are embodied in dreams that feel hauntingly real.
11. You need to take better care of yourself
A health-related dream that feels real could be a sign that you need self-care. This dream could be your body’s way of telling you to be more conscious of your health.
You are likely to have dreams about falling sick or even dying if you have been thinking a lot about your health.
If you had a health scare in real life, you might have vivid dreams about being sick or dying. Listen to your body and spirit. Vivid dreams are often a message from your Higher Self warning or guiding you.
When your health-related dream feels real, your spiritual guides are signaling you to commit to self-care of your physical body before it is too late.
12. You are avoiding something you need to face
When you have vivid dreams, it is common to see yourself trapped in a giant maze. This can be terrifying!
Vivid dreams related to large, complex mazes symbolize that you are escaping reality in your waking life. You refuse to see things for what they are, which traps you in a cycle of stress and hopelessness.
If you are wondering how to stop having vivid dreams that involve you getting trapped in a maze, try facing your problems in real life and start finding a long-lasting solution. Avoidance is an ineffective short-term strategy.
13. You are hiding the real you
Vivid dreams about your teeth falling out are pretty common. These point to your lack of authenticity in real life.
You are engrossed in hiding your real self and spending time and energy projecting an image of someone you are not.
But, you know you aren’t being true to yourself, and the thought of this haunts you in your waking life and dreams.
Nightmares about your teeth falling are a sign that you should get in touch with your inner-self. You might want to find help to heal old wounds, manage vulnerability, and stay grounded in your truth.
The more you take pride in and reveal your truth, the fewer vivid dreams about teeth falling you will have.
14. You fear being exposed
Did you have an unusually real dream about being naked in a public place such as a school, office, or grocery store? This is a horrifying but surprisingly common theme in the realm of vivid dreams.
Dreaming about being naked symbolizes your fear of being exposed. It could be that you did something you shouldn’t have, and now you are worried about someone finding out the truth.
Like other dreams, the meaning of dreams about being naked will depend on the context. For example, if you have vivid dreams about being naked at the office, you could have imposter syndrome, and you worry that others will find out how ‘incompetent’ and undeserving you are of the position.
Of course, imposter syndrome is based on imagined rather than real fears about your competency. This dream is a sign that you must work on your confidence and step into your power in your professional life.
15. Your Higher Self is sending you a message
Dreams don’t always have a direct or literal meaning, but some do, especially those that feel real.
When you have an unusually real dream, take notice. This could be a strong message from your Higher Self or spiritual guides and teachers warning you of something in your waking life.
When you wake up, note down everything you remember about the dream. Ask your Higher Self for guidance and signs of the dream’s meaning.
Cultivate awareness so you can notice the signs and connect the dots to understand the message behind the vivid dream.
Try not to ignore a dream that feels real. It could be the difference between life and death, health and illness, success and failure.
Summary: What Does It Mean When Your Dream Feels Real?
Unusually real dreams can leave you shaken days after having the dream. There are scientific and spiritual meanings to a dream that feels real.
Vivid dreams could be a warning sign of chronic stress, depression, or dangerously low blood sugar in your body. Sleep experts recommend managing your lifestyle to enjoy more peace and restful sleep.
When a dream feels real, don’t take it for granted. Vivid dreams reflect what is going on in our waking life and what we need to resolve.
These dreams could also be a strong message from your spiritual guides. So take heed!
I hope you now understand better what it means when your dream feels real.