When we’re sleeping, our bodies do everything they can to stay asleep. So rather than waking us up, outside stimuli—smells, sounds, sensations—often become woven into our dream narratives. “The dreaming mind has this really cool way of seemingly flawlessly incorporating the outside interference into the storyline of the dream,” explains Lauri Loewenberg, a certified dream analyst and member of the International Association for the Study of Dreams.
Which means that there are a lot of influences that can shape how your dreams play out. Just keep in mind that your natural dreams, i.e. those that aren’t at the mercy of what’s happening around you in the real world, help you process your thoughts and feelings about your day. Too much interference, Loewenberg says, “can be disruptive to the message your dreaming mind is trying to give you.”