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Real Talk: What Causes People To Have Weird Dreams? An Expert Weighs In

Sarah Regan
mbg Spirituality & Relationships Writer By Sarah Regan
mbg Spirituality & Relationships Writer
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Writer, and a registered yoga instructor. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from SUNY Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.
Young asian woman in bed sleeping

Image by Maximilian Guy McNair MacEwan / Stocksy

Have you ever woken up from a dream and asked yourself, "Where did that come from?" From dreaming about being naked to dreaming of snakes or spiders, there's truly no shortage of bizarre scenarios our brains can come up with while we're asleep. And sometimes (like, right now), it seems like everyone is going through an especially weird dream phase at the same time.

To get to the bottom of this, we asked a dream expert for her take on what causes us to have—and remember—bizarre dreams.

What really causes bizarre dreams?

While the exact mechanisms behind dreaming aren't completely understood, it's widely believed that dreams serve as a means for memory consolidation. With that in mind, therapist and dream expert Leslie Ellis, Ph.D., tells mbg she thinks dreams take their cues from "a combination of our emotions, our environment, and to some degree, the things we encountered during the day."

Whether it was a movie you watched, an event you witnessed, or a story you read, she says, all of these can contribute material to your dreams. "I think of this so-called day residue as a palette that our dream-maker can work with to express the emotional events in our life, both personal and collective, that want to command our attention," Ellis adds.

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Why they're a good thing.

While your weird and crazy dreams might catch you off guard, Ellis says it's actually a positive thing if you're having strange dreams. "If the message is truly important," she explains, "I think our dreams like to make it memorable by adding intensity and bizarre details."

In some cases, your dreams may even incorporate humor and playfulness, Ellis notes, adding she's found some dreams to exhibit "a tremendous sense of humor."

But overall, "having crazy dreams is a good sign," she says. "The dreams associated with stress tend to be close replicas of real life, and the more dreams diverge from reality the better. So enjoy the ride!"

The takeaway.

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Dreams can range from totally mundane to out of this world, but according to Ellis, the stranger the better. And if you're curious to decipher the meaning behind your weird and wild dreams, we've got you covered with this complete guide to dream interpretation.

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