Some common causes of vivid dreams include sleep deprivation, alcohol consumption, and substance use. Practicing good sleep hygiene may help prevent them. Learn more about the causes of vivid dreams here.

Many things, such as sleep deprivation and alcohol consumption, can cause vivid dreams. Certain sleep disorders may also make vivid dreams more likely.

Everyone dreams but not everyone remembers doing so. People tend to spend about 2 hours each night dreaming. Sleep and dreams are complex and remain a mystery to scientists.

What we do know is that quality sleep is essential for many brain functions. Sleep affects how nerve cells communicate with each other. Researchers now also believe that sleeping can help remove toxins that build up in the brain during waking hours.

Sleep affects almost every type of tissue and system in the body, from the brain and heart to the immune system and mood.


A person may have vivid dreams for any number of reasons, depending on individual situations.

People often find that thoughts from the day invade their dreams. They usually experience the most vivid dreams during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which we cover in more detail below.

Causes of vivid dreams include:

Sleep deprivation

Sleep deprivation can lead to more intense dreaming.


Alcohol consumption can suppress REM sleep. When a person stops drinking, it can lead to unusually vivid and intense dreams.

Substance use

Using certain substances — such as marijuana, cocaine, and ketamine — can contribute to vivid or unpleasant dreams.

People who are recovering from addiction may find that they have vivid dreams about using the drug they are recovering from.

This is relatively common. Experts think that these dreams are part of the impact that drug addiction has on the brain.

Drug side effects

All medicines have potential side effects. For some people, these side effects can include bad or vivid dreams.

Examples of medications that may contribute to vivid dreams or nightmares include:

  • antidepressants, including tricyclic monoamine oxidase inhibitors and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
  • centrally acting antihypertensives, such as beta-blockers, rauwolfia alkaloids, and alpha agonists
  • medications for conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, including levodopa (Larodopa) and selegiline (Eldepryl)

All drugs will have potential side effects listed on the packaging.


Stress and traumatic events can lead to vivid dreams. Researchers believe that this is due to the role that dreaming plays in memory and processing emotions.

People who experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are more likely to have bad vivid dreams than people who do not.

Like it? Share with your friends!

What's Your Reaction?

Funny Funny
More Like This More Like This
More Like This
Helpful Helpful



Weekly newsletter with top 5 articles
Monthly printable calendar: coloring page and recovery tip
Special discount offers
Learn about recovery products

Sign up to receive more!

subscribe to our top stories

Weekly newsletter with top 5 articles
Printable recovery calendar & coloring page
Special discount offers on recovery products

Don't worry, we don't spam