For years, I haven’t slept enough to dream, or at least to have dreams that I remember. But the past few nights, I have these vivid, bizarre, often disturbing and very realistic detailed dreams that remind me what “dreaming” is all about. (I’ve also gotten a very full night’s sleep these same few nights–I go to bed around 9-10 PM and, while normally I’d get up around 3 or 4 and sometimes after waking intermittently, now I’m sleeping straight through to 7 AM or later.)
But the dreams! Last night’s included a gigantic lake (similar to one of the smaller Finger Lakes upstate near where I used to live) outside my kitchen window, so intensely realistic that I spent most of the dream re-checking it and wondering how the hell it got there, and a flooded Hudson River covering the GW Bridge up to the tops of the towers, tempting me to dive in and investigate (I did, and promptly woke up) and a missing wallet that caused me to steal all my friends’ wallets because they seemed insufficiently alarmed by my missing wallet–each theft was particular to the friend whose wallet I lifted, and it was like a intricately designed heist film in sequences. And a grubby restaurant where I went out with my ex- (to whom I haven;t spoken a word in years and years) and our two kids and an aunt of mine who’s been deceased for 30 years–a strange kid was pissing on passing diners’ legs and I got outraged and started beating the crap of this malicious prankster.
And on and on… I’m almost looking forward to tonight’s dreams, but I have no idea why I’m suddenly sleeping so soundly and dreaming so vividly.
Over in an IMHO thread on forcing vivid dreams, Lasciel linked to a report (PDF) that might be relevant. One of the studies cited in the report concluded that people deprived of REM sleep tend to make up for it by experiencing more REM sleep when allowed to sleep undisturbed.
It sounds like your REM sleep has been interrupted a lot, and now that you’re sleeping soundly, your brain is making up for lost time. Since most vividly recalled dreams occur during REM sleep, you’re catching up on those as well. If you continue to sleep soundly, they may taper off, though I imagine you’ll continue to have some.
It’s interesting that your sleeping pattern changed so suddenly. Have you made any changes to your habits? Or to your diet? Have you been injured lately?
There are many factors associated with vivid dreaming. Recently quit drinking? Perhaps there is something newly stressful in your life. Sometimes it’s difficult to pinpoint. Recent alien abduction, perhaps?
The scary part sucks, but I’m a bit jealous. I usually never remember my dreams, but when I do they are often surreal and laced with pop-culture action-adventure-esque story lines. Last night I dreamed my parents got into a huge fight, to the point where my mom pulled out a knife. After restraining her, I ran outside to find myself in a strange train station in Japan. I missed the last train, so I met up with a friend and tried to stay overnight in a nearby temple. But, to do so, you had to pass “The Test of Reason,” which looked like a giant go board. There were some questions too IIRC. I passed but my friend failed, some monster appeared… it got fuzzy, and then lastly I got into a fight with Harry Potter. I think this was a seperate dream but later I ended up walking down a long road to a Mexican party with an old girl I used to like.