Have you wondered why your dreams get crazy-intense in the nights leading up to your period? Maybe you dream of being naked in public, stranded in a bathroom, or are jolted awake by a nightmare. As it turns out, weird “period dreams” are pretty common—and there’s a scientific reason why.
Experts know that dreams occur during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. This is the stage of sleep in which your brain is active, and it typically takes place multiple times throughout the night, starting within the first 90 minutes of dozing off. “If you wake from REM sleep, you tend to remember your dreams more,” Irshaad Ebrahim, a consultant neuropsychiatrist and medical director at the London Sleep Centre, told Broadly.
According to Dr. Ebrahim, women report more sleep disturbances in the time leading up to their periods, meaning they are more likely to wake up during dream sleep and recall the events or emotions that occurred. Research shows that changes in your hormonal levels throughout your menstrual cycle can cause irregular sleep patterns. Specifically, as reported by Broadly, the influx of the hormone progesterone in the week leading up to your period causes your body temperature to rise, resulting in “erratic” sleep.
Christiane Northrup, MD, an OB/GYN in Yarmouth, ME, added that hormones may also play a role in what you dream about. The dreams we have “tend to reflect what’s going on in that particular cycle,” she said. It’s during REM sleep that experts believe some level of emotional modification takes place, and, generally speaking, research shows that anxiety and mood problems (ahem, PMS) are linked to higher rates of distressing dreams.