Vivid Dreams, Nightmares, Night Terrors and Bipolar Disorder

I dream I might fall down elevator shafts
I dream I might fall down elevator shafts. Adri Berger/The Image Bank/Getty Images

I have had especially vivid dreams all my life. The most common are dreams where I'm walking through the new house I've moved into - I could describe to you in detail every room, all the furniture, all the people I meet. The other recurring theme in my dreams is falling, or fear of falling - often in an elevator where the floor begins to peel away from the walls and flap like a rubber mat.

And in fact, people with bipolar disorder are more likely than others to experience exceptionally vivid dreams and nightmares. And although night terrors are much more common in children than adults, adults with bipolar are far more likely than other adults to experience these.

Bipolar Disorder and Dreams takes a look at the phenomenon of vivid dreams in bipolar disorder. Nightmares and Night Terrors discusses these issues as they affect both children and adults with bipolar disorder.

Do you have especially vivid dreams, nightmares, or night terrors? Read about others' bipolar dreams.

Here are a few things readers had to say about what happens while they sleep:

Anne: I’ve often wondered about this. It seems my dreams have become more vivid and packed with unique, creative surroundings that I’ve never been to or could visit in real life. Is it because of the Lithium? I’ve also been able to return to my dreams easier than I could before I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. Sometimes I think the movies I watch, I watch hundreds of movies, influence my dreams but the dreams are also so personal that seems unlikely. I feel rested after a night of dreaming, that is one good thing and I’m very glad for this.

Sandra: I have horrid night terrors. Anytime I’m having a pleasant dream it ends with a spider crawling up my face. I’m a huge arachnophobe and end up spending the rest of my night tearing my bedroom apart trying to find the spider that doesn’t exist. They are all so real, no matter how ridiculous they seem.

CJ: I’ve found this to be true. My dreams are so vivid, though sometimes ridiculous that I’ve woken up yelling to spent a good deal of time talking in my sleep. I’m usually being chased or feel like I’m stuck in the mud though I think I’m running as fast as I can. They are usually weird mashups of houses I’ve lived in, people I’ve known, in situations that are just bizarre. When the dreams are pleasant this is a great gift, but when they are bad it’s like a horrible curse.

Was this page helpful?

Article Sources

  • MK Gilbert: I have always had very vivid, recurring nightmares~in my worst one as a child my little bro and I were orbiting the earth on a raft made of balls~the feeling of weightlessness (tumbling over backward) and not being able to get back to earth were terrifying…but I would wake up saying, Mouli planted trees! (Mou-li was our favorite maid as children, and I think I made this part up when partly awake like I often do when I have a real bad dream~she planted super-fast growing trees which caught us in its branches, and thus we were saved.) I have had other weird ones as an adult that have reoccurred as well~one in which gum is stuck in the back of my mouth and is almost impossible to get out, or my mouth keeps filling up with odd things that I have to keep pulling out from the back of my throat…Wonder if that has to do with wishing that I could control my racing words as I so often say things I shouldn’t?!? I’ve read before that nightmares are common in those of us who have neurotransmitter imbalances.