There’s a good chance you’ve heard the term, “fever dream” thrown around without actually knowing much about what it is. Fever dreams are a very real thing that many people experience, and we’ll help you understand what they are and when you might experience them.

Fever dreams are exactly what they seem. They are very vivid dreams that you might have while your temperature is higher than normal. While your body is normally at a temperature around 97 to 99 degrees Fahrenheit, it doesn’t take much to be considered feverish. Once you hit 100 degrees, you’re considered feverish, and that’s when these vivid dreams can happen. These dreams also tend to be more vivid or even scarier than your typical dream, which is why some people use the term “fever dream” to refer to an off-the-wall experience.

What Do Fever Dreams Feel Like?

Fever dreams are often thought to be unpleasant and are likened more toward nightmares than dreams. A 2016 study of 62 participants looked at their fever dreams and analyzed how their bizarre dreams made them feel, and 94% of them said they were under distress and consider the fever dreams to be negative. 

Another study, published in 2020, found that fever dreams are commonly negative. Researchers also found that fever dreams seem to often call up thoughts about health and things related to temperature, perhaps due to the nature of why the dreams occur in the first place. 

Overall, it seems that fever dreams largely have bad connotations and stress people out when they have them because they’re scary and negative. These dreams sometimes include phobias like claustrophobia and vertigo, or they put you in scarily vivid action sequences that are deeply personal to your own experiences.  

Why Do We Get Fever Dreams?  

Despite how common fever dreams and fever dream symptoms are, there isn’t a lot of science to back up exactly why they occur. Doctors and researchers know that these dreams have a correlation with a raised temperature, but there’s not a lot of basis on why the temperature affects the brain in this way. The 2020 study we mentioned earlier, hypothesized that the elevated temperature on the brain caused it to react in a way that created bizarre dreams, but again, these are still just hypotheses with no fact-based answers.

Fevers also come with illness and the stress of being sick, which can contribute to these fever dreams. Because you might be sick or in pain, you might be having a harder time sleeping in general, and if your sleep cycle is out of whack, you might experience harsher dreams than you’re used to.

How To Limit Fever Dreams When You Feel Sick 

Take medication

If you have a fever, one of the best things you can do is treat it with medication. The faster you get rid of the fever, the faster you can get rid of the fever dreams.

Drink plenty of water

When you have a fever, you tend to be dehydrated, so make sure you’re drinking enough to keep your body hydrated. This will help beat the fever and, again, bring down those fever dreams.

Take a warm bath

A warm bath can help your fever break. It can also relax you if you’ve been feeling uncomfortable after the fever dreams. 

Rest when you can

Fever dreams can make sleeping a lot harder than normal, so if you’re able, let yourself sleep whenever your body needs to. While sleeping all the time isn’t advisable under normal circumstances, when you’re sick, it’s okay.

Watch what you eat before you sleep

Just like the typical advice of watching what you eat before bed, the same rule applies to when you have a fever and are worried about fever dreams. Though there’s a good chance you aren’t eating much because of your fever, you should still watch how close you’re eating to bedtime, as some foods can disrupt sleep.

What’s The Difference Between Fever Dreams And Lucid Dreams?

Fever dreams and lucid dreams are almost identical. Both of these types of dreams occur during the REM cycle, and both are completely vivid. With each of these, you’re able to remember in detail what you dreamed about. However, the stark difference between the two is the temperature factor. Lucid dreams happen under normal circumstances. You can have a lucid dream at any time and be able to recall it later. Fever dreams are specifically tied to an elevated temperature and usually have more negative connotations than a lucid dream. Lucid dreams typically aren’t scary or stressful, though they can be. 

Final Thoughts 

A fever and nightmares somewhat go hand in hand, thanks to fever dreams. When your temperature is up, your body reacts in a way that’s difficult to understand, but the result can be vivid and sometimes-scary fever dreams. If you prepare yourself before bed when you’re sick, you might be able to stave off these dreams, though, and say farewell to the bad dream fever.


Why do fevers cause weird dreams? 

There’s no science behind this yet, but some researchers believe that the elevated temperature causes your brain to react in a weird way that creates vivid dreams.

Can fevers give you nightmares? 

Yes, just as fevers give you dreams, they can also give you nightmares, especially considering many people consider their fever dreams to be more like nightmares.

What are signs of a fever? 

Signs of a fever include chills, sweating, headaches, aches and pains, dehydration, and weakness. An elevated temperature is the most obvious symptom of a fever, but sometimes your temperature might be up without experiencing these other symptoms.