It's summer, which can only mean one thing: trying desperately to fall asleep in 100 degree heat with 100% humidity, while your cheap box fan blasts cold air with the intensity of a kite bobbing on the wind. You're well aware of how hot weather affects your sleep — aka, badly — but once you finally drift off to sleep, what you might not realize is that hot weather can affect your dreams, too.
"When the weather or temperature rises, you may not sleep quite as soundly or restfully which, believe it or not, can help you better remember your dreams,” Lauri Loewenberg, a dream interpreter who works with mattress company DreamCloud, tells Bustle.
Dreams have long puzzled, inspired, and served as a means of enlightenment for many people and societies. Some of the oldest surviving dream journals that historians still study today trace back over 60,000 years ago (yes, 60,000!), to cave drawings from the Paleolithic era. So, it’s safe to say that we humans are somewhat obsessed with uncovering the hidden symbols, meanings, and metaphors behind our dreams, as well as what influences our dreams in the first place. According to the National Sleep Foundation, people dream an average of four to six times per night, but forget 95 to 99 percent of what they dream about. Hot weather can potentially make it easier to remember what it was we were dreaming about — or even affect what we're dreaming about in the first place.
“The lighter you sleep, the more often you will wake up after each REM cycle (when we dream). This enables you to remember your dreams, rather than sleeping through the night and not having the chance to capture them,” she says. Meaning, while warm weather can make it more difficult to get a good night’s rest — especially if don’t have the best A/C in your apartment — this can actually be a good thing if you’re all about decoding your dreams.
Moreover, Loewenberg explains you might have summertime weather to thank if you have experienced an influx of happier dreams, and less nightmares. “We tend to be happier in warmer weather, therefore our dreams will be more pleasant in nature,” she explains, adding that the content of dreams are also “a direct result of the emotions and events that have been felt or experienced throughout the day.” Of course, studies have shown that certain things — like watching violent shows before bed, or mental health disorders such as PTSD — can trigger vivid nightmares. However, partaking in relaxing summer activities could also be a useful tool that can foster relaxing dreams.
The overall emotional tone of your dream can be affected by warm weather, and so can the details (think the who, what, where, and when) of your dream. For example, Loewenberg says rising temps can make your dreams take place in a hot kitchen, or even in the desert. Another common dream theme during the summertime is fire, which she says “most often indicates you are dealing with an urgent issue in real life,” or means you’re feeling particularly passionate about something.
What’s more, Loewenberg explains that, “As you begin planning for your summer vacation, flying dreams will rule (either in a plane, or just flying through the air on your own) or even being on a tropical island. But, a beach or tropical island setting in a dream can also indicate that you are feeling like you have finally gotten a break in some way in real life. Perhaps a difficult situation is finally over or very busy, chaotic time has settled down.” While flying dreams may mean you feel “free” and on your path towards reaching a life goal, experiencing a plane crash in your dream may mean you’ve experienced a setback.
“Your dreams can be your best friend, and built-in therapist when you pay attention to them,” says Loewenberg, suggesting if you want to better remember your dreams, you should “stay put [immediately after waking up], quiet your mind, and give yourself three to five minutes of quiet still time so the memory of the dream can come back to you.” Many different factors may play a role in what you dream and why, but understanding how summer weather can affect your dreams will give you deeper insight into your subconscious mind.