Anyone Else Having Crazy Dreams When They Detox?
Knowing I'm the health editor at mindbodygreen, it probably won't surprise you to learn that I've done my fair share of cleanses and detoxes. Trying out the latest nutrition protocols, like fasting or the ketogenic diet, is part of my job.
This past month I joined some friends who were trying out a 2-week cleanse. And despite sleeping like a rock and getting our digestion back on track, all three of us experienced a very strange symptom: We had the craziest, most vivid dreams almost every night during the cleanse.
Naturally, I had a lot of questions. Is this normal? Does it happen to everyone? What's the science behind it? I reached out to some of our top health experts, including Dr. Frank Lipman—an mbg Collective member, class instructor, and the creator of a detox program himself, to learn more about these crazy detox dreams.
Is having crazy dreams during a detox normal?
As someone who doesn't eat a lot of sugar and has a pretty healthy routine, I didn't experience all that many side effects from my cleanse—other than some fatigue, a few headaches, and feeling generally sad about not being able to eat very many carbs. In fact, the crazy dreams I had were probably the most intense side effect I experienced over the 14 days.
According to Dr. Lipman, dreams are a pretty common side effect of cleanses, and while he can't explain exactly why it happens, he has a few theories. "Although we get this a lot, we aren't exactly sure why this happens. We believe it could be a result of a number of things, including a change in diet, the detoxing process that the body is going through, a change in the gut flora, or even because we are removing stimulants that often disrupt sleep patterns," he told us.
What's the science behind these detox dreams?
According to Will Cole, D.C., IFMCP, mindbodygreen Collective member and author of Ketotarian, "I've seen this happen for some people—but not all people—during various detox protocols." And he also has a few theories as to why these dreams happen. "There are many studies that show that weird dreams or even nightmares are often experienced during alcohol or drug withdrawal, but there is limited research surrounding changes in dreams in general detoxing. Nightmares or vivid dreams have also been connected with factors like blood sugar changes and other shifts in the body, so it is possible that when someone changes their diet and supports detoxification pathways, dreams like this can happen."
Our experts agree: There isn't much you can do to prevent these dreams from happening, but they're also nothing to worry about. And so, at least for now, they remain one of those mysterious things that happen to you when your body is adjusting to a different lifestyle. For me and my detox pals, they weren't so bad that it prevented us from continuing with the program—they were more strange than scary—but it's something to keep in mind if you have plans to do a cleanse anytime soon.
Gretchen Lidicker is an mbg health contributor, content strategist, and the author of CBD Oil Everyday Secrets: A Lifestyle Guide to Hemp-Derived Health and Wellness and Magnesium Everyday Secrets: A Lifestyle Guide to Epsom Salts, Magnesium Oil, and Nature's Relaxation Mineral. She holds a B.S. in biology and earned her master’s degree in physiology with a concentration in complementary and alternative medicine from Georgetown University.