Some People Are Reporting Fever Dreams With COVID-19—Here's What That Means

A fever—a temperature of at least 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—is one of the most c...


A fever—a temperature of at least 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—is one of the most common symptoms of COVID-19. When the body is fighting a virus like the new coronavirus (or any other type of infection, really), its core temperature shoots up from its normal range (usually between 97 and 99 degrees Fahrenheit) to defend itself against temperature-sensitive pathogens like bacteria and viruses. The higher the temperature, the harder it is for pathogens to multiply in our bodies.

The telltale symptoms of a fever are pretty recognizable: aches, chills, sweating—but in some cases, those dealing with a higher-than-normal body temperature may also experience vivid, sometimes disturbing, negatively-toned dreams known as "fever dreams."

That's what reportedly what happened to CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, who tested positive for COVID-19 on March 31. Days later, on April 2, Chris shared his coronavirus symptoms with his brother, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, during a TV press briefing. Chris, 49, shared that shortly after he received his diagnosis, he spiked a high fever and began experiencing rigors or shivers. "I had hallucinations—I was seeing pop," Chris said. "You came to me in a dream; you had on a very interesting ballet outfit, and you were dancing in the dream and you were waving a wand," Chris said, talking to his brother Andrew.
Turns out, Chris isn't the sole one handling those fever dreams right now—anecdotally speaking, there are instances of this happening to those with COVID-19. "I've heard reports of this happening in some people i do know with the coronavirus infection," Alcibiades Rodriguez, MD, medical director of the great Epilepsy Center-Sleep Center at NYU Langone Health, tells Health. But these fever dreams aren't just COVID-19 specific—they can happen whenever an individual's blood heat rises above normal.

RELATED: What Temperature is taken into account a Fever in Adults? Doctors Explain the foremost Common Coronavirus Symptom

What exactly are fever dreams?
Essentially, fever dreams are the strange, often negatively-toned dreams one can experience with a higher-than-normal blood heat . Unfortunately, tons of science behind fever dreams is lacking, but there are a couple of studies on the subject . In one 2013 study, published in Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 11% of individuals sick with a fever experienced fever dreams. One person within the study described a recurring dream that they had during adolescence, which returned during a recent fever. Another reported dreams that switched from positive situations to negative ones.

Another study, published in 2016 in International Journal of Dream Research, compared dreams people had during a fever to dreams that they had once they weren’t sick. Around 94% of these who experienced fever dreams described them as negative and more “emotionally intense” than regular dreams. a number of them talked about giant insects, “creatures with oversized arms and legs,” and blackness “slowly spreading everywhere .”

And more recently, a web study published in January 2020 within the journal Frontiers in Psychology, found that, out of 164 people, 100 had experienced recent fever dreams. consistent with the study authors, those fever dreams were “more bizarre and more negatively toned” than regular dreams. Many of the fever dreams also involved heat perception—one study participant described a dream during which they awakened from sleep because their body felt as if it had been “blazing” and said “the most intense feelings were weakness and helplessness.”

It's still unknown exactly why these strange dreams can accompany fevers, but experts have a couple of theories. “We don’t exactly know why fever makes dreams more vivid and disturbing, although one theory is that the brain doesn’t process sensations normally once we have a fever,” Beth Malow, MD, a professor within the department of neurology and pediatrics and director of the sleep disorders division at Vanderbilt University center , tells Health.

RELATED: What Does Shortness of Breath Feel Like? Doctors Explain This Coronavirus Symptom

Dr. Malow says fever dreams are believed to be more frequent during the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep. Most dreams occur during paradoxical sleep in any case, but there’s also a connection to temperature. “We don’t regulate our blood heat during paradoxical sleep also as we do during other stages of sleep, and temperature can swing of control,” Dr. Malow says. Dr. Rodriguez adds, “if we get a spike in fever during paradoxical sleep , we may feel more uncomfortable and have micro-arousals (shifts between deep and lightweight sleep). This increases the likelihood folks remembering our dreams.”

Of course, there's also an opportunity that fever dreams won't always be dreams—or a minimum of not as we all know them. “We know in other medical conditions, like encephalopathies [diseases that affect the function or structure of the brain], people may have hallucinations," says Dr. Rodriguez. "It is feasible that hallucinations could also be a sort of ‘awake dreaming’ in those specific circumstances. an equivalent might be said for once we have a fever.”

The fragmented sleep that somebody gets while sick can also contribute to strange dreams. "Having a fever is an unstable state which will fragment our sleep," says Dr. Rodriguez. "We know that patients with severe apnea or narcolepsy, which both have a sort of sleep fragmentation, have a bent to recollect more of their dreams." He also points out that whether we've a fever or not, we usually remember the dreams that are more disturbing, like nightmares.

RELATED: what's a Dry Cough? Experts Explain the Coronavirus Symptom

And albeit you are not ill with a fever immediately , you'll also still be experiencing strange dreams—especially with the added stress of the coronavirus pandemic. From a psychiatric perspective, dreams are important in understanding unconscious thoughts within the mind, Gail Saltz, MD, an professor of psychiatry at the NY Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell School of drugs and host of “Personology” podcast, tells Health. "If interpreted correctly by a patient and doctor working together, a dream can provide a window into unconscious anxieties, fears, desires, etc,” Dr. Saltz says. "COVID-19 is worrying for all folks ," adds Dr. Rodriguez says. "And if you're sick and have a fever with the disease, your anxiety level could also be even higher."

While might not know exactly why a fever may cause vivid or disturbing dreams, and though there’s not a sure-fire thanks to avoid them completely, the more steps you're taking to regulate your core blood heat , the more likely you're to urge a peaceful night’s sleep. meaning getting many rest, drinking many fluids (preferably water), taking the meds recommended by your doctor, like ibuprofen or aspirin, taking lukewarm baths or sponging exposed skin with tepid water, and trying to eat nutritious, easily-digestible foods.

Also important: If you're ill with COVID-19 and your fever may be a results of that, confirm you self-isolate, manage your symptoms, and keep an eye fixed on how you are feeling . If your condition worsens—like, if you begin to experience shortness of breath, or if your fever spikes to over 103 degrees Fahrenheit—seek medical attention ASAP.

The information during this story is accurate as of press time. However, because the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, it's possible that some data have changed since publication. While Health is trying to stay our stories as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to remain informed on news and proposals for his or her own communities by using the CDC, WHO, and their local public health department as resources.


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