What Are Fever Dreams (and Why Do We Have Them)

What are Fever Dreams?

Fever dreams are vivid, imaginary visions experienced during sleep. They occur when there is a disruption in the normal balance between brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. These chemical messengers help regulate many functions within our bodies including heart rate, breathing and digestion. When these neurotransmitters become too low or high, they cause changes in behavior such as hallucinations and delusions.

The term “fever” comes from the Latin word febris which means fire. During times of stress, the body releases adrenaline into the blood stream causing a surge in energy and making us feel alert and energetic. However, if this rush of adrenaline causes too much damage to vital organs such as your brain then it will result in a seizure or even death. The same thing happens with seizures caused by drugs or alcohol.

During sleep, the brain produces less adrenaline. This allows it to function normally and keeps us safe from seizures. Sometimes however, we don’t get enough rest and our brains overreact to stressful situations resulting in a seizure. A fever dream is one of those scenarios where our minds have gone into overdrive due to lack of sleep.

During a fever dream, our brains fire off signals in rapid succession causing vivid hallucinations. The content of these visions is greatly affected by past experiences and is not under the control of our conscious minds. This might be why most people report dream content related to their fears or concerns.

Fever dreams are quite common. They can affect children and adults of all ages and backgrounds. When sick, most people report experiencing vivid hallucinations that are often quite scary. While many believe their dreams are real, they are still subject to the laws of cause and effect.

For example, if you dream that you’re being chased, you won’t actually be harmed in real life. However, if you dream that you jump off a cliff and plummet to your death, then you better hold on tight to the bed because you might actually do it!

What is a Fever Dream?


A fever dream is a hallucination or dream that you experience when you are very sick or have a fever.

Fever dreams are often very scary and vivid. During a fever dream, you may experience terror, anxiety, or a feeling of impending doom. You may also find that you are no longer able to move or speak while experiencing a fever dream.

The content of a fever dream is greatly affected by past experiences. For instance, you may dream about a past breakup, a traumatic event from your childhood, or an upcoming test at school.

Most people experience a fever dream when they are sick with the flu or have a high fever from an infection or other illness.

When you wake up from a fever dream, you may feel relieved to be awake. You may also feel confused and unsure of what was real and what was part of the fever dream.

Fever dreams are quite common and not to be worried about. However, if you are experiencing pain or discomfort during your fever dream, you may want to see a doctor because this can indicate a more serious illness.

How Do You Get a Fever Dream?

When you have a fever, your body temperature rises slightly above the normal level. This can be caused by many different types of infections or illnesses. When your body temperature increases, your immune system fights the illness by producing more white blood cells and using other defense mechanisms. While this process allows your body to fight off an infection, it also causes your body to work harder and require more energy.

Your brain is a very important organ that requires a lot of energy to run. When you have a fever, your brain must work harder to maintain normal bodily functions. This increase in brain activity can cause some people to experience hallucinations or fever dreams.

These fever dreams are often very vivid and seem very real. While you are experiencing these vivid dreams, your conscious mind is relaxed and your subconscious mind takes over.

This is why people who experience fever dreams often report a strong sense of fear or anxiety. The content of the dream may be affected by your personal experiences, personality, and beliefs. For some people, a fever dream can cause feelings of impending doom or terror.

What’s It Feel Like?

The experience of a fever dream can be very different for each person. Depending on what you are dreaming about, the experience can range from mildly unsettling to downright terrifying. Some people may even have pleasant experiences and describe their fever dreams as adventures in wonderland.

Most people describe the experience of a fever dream as realistic and vivid. The dreamer may believe their dream is real and may feel confused or frightened when they wake up. Some people experience several fever dreams in one night or may even experience a persistent fever dream, also known as a delirium.

Fever dreams can cause people to act out physically while they are dreaming. For example, if you are experiencing a bad dream while you are camping and there is a bear nearby, you may actually shout or scream at the bear in your dream and not even realize it when you wake up.

Can You Prevent It?

Not really. If you have a fever and you wake up from a dream in which you were being chased by a monster, you may actually get out of bed and run to the safety of your parents’ room. You may not remember the monster when you wake up the next day.

What Should You Do?

If you do experience a fever dream, there is no need to worry unless the dream caused you to do something in your sleep that could be dangerous.

For example, if you have a fever and you dream that there is a bear in your room and you get out of bed to investigate, you may find yourself standing on top of a ladder on the side of your bunk bed. If you fell from the top bunk in your sleep, you could hurt yourself.

Most people who experience fever dreams do not act out physically while they are dreaming. If this does happen to you, try to avoid doing anything dangerous while you are sleeping.

Sources & references used in this article:

Demographic fever dreams: Fragile masculinity and population politics in the rise of the global right by B Gökarıksel, C Neubert… – Signs: Journal of Women …, 2019 – journals.uchicago.edu

Flush Times and Fever Dreams: A Story of Capitalism and Slavery in the Age of Jackson by JD Rothman – 2012 – books.google.com

EBM: Rationalist fever dreams by D Klein, D Woods, G Klein… – Journal of Cognitive …, 2018 – journals.sagepub.com

How to Avoid Fever Dreams by T Louie – Infectious Diseases in Clinical Practice, 2013 – journals.lww.com

Fever Dreams: A Geography of Mind by D Peck – Conjunctions, 2000 – JSTOR

Fever dreams: obeah, tropical disease, and cultural contamination in colonial Jamaica and the metropole by JA McGhee – Atlantic Studies, 2015 – Taylor & Francis

Fever Dreams: Butterfly Chasers, Pollinators, Sun Gazers by A Beucler – 2020 – iro.uiowa.edu

Fever dreams by C Vaughan – Missouri Alumnus, 2019 Fall, pages 16-23, 2019 – mospace.umsystem.edu