Scary dreams, panic, waking up sweating. We all know it: nightmares! But what do they actually mean and can you prevent them?
Nightmares: never wanted
We all know that a good night’s sleep is important. However, a nightmare can disrupt your good night. You wake up with a start and then often have trouble getting back to sleep.
What is a Nightmare?
There is a big difference between a bad or scary dream and a nightmare. In a nightmare, the emotion (fear, anger, panic, sadness) dominates and you wake up with a fright. Moreover, when you wake up you still have a clear picture of the nightmare, a bad dream is at most a vague memory.
Terrible things happen in the nightmare. Murder, fire, you or a loved one dies, you are chased and there are still a lot of nasty things to think of. In fact, you always wake up at the ‘climax’ of the nightmare.
Why do we get nightmares?
During your sleep you process what happened during the day or what has kept you busy. So the nightmares also have some kind of use, after all you are processing. There is no scientific explanation why this sometimes happens with a negative dream, but every dream is a reflection of what you (un)consciously occupy.
There are several studies that show that having nightmares regularly in adulthood is related to a feeling of powerlessness or helplessness in your youth. People who experience extra busyness in their heads, such as with ADHD or PTSD, are also more likely to have nightmares.
Normally we have a nightmare at most once a year. If this is a period that is more frequent, there is no reason to panic yet. If it happens systematically several times a week, it is wise to call in help.
Difference from night terror
Although close to each other, there is still a clear difference between a nightmare and a night terror. With both you wake up with a start, but with a nightmare you have remembered what the dream was.
Night terror is mainly characterized by an anxious feeling, increased heart rate, sweat attacks and often a more confused feeling, not knowing exactly where the fear really comes from.
Causes of nightmares
There are several factors that can cause a nightmare, such as:
- Accident or death of a loved one
- Exciting event in the future (such as a presentation)
- Quarrel with friends, family or partner
- Alcohol and drugs
Meaning of nightmares
There are a number of annoying scenarios that occur more often and with several people. So your nightmare may have a deeper meaning. We have listed a number of meanings for you.
1. Funeral of a known person
When you dream about the funeral of a loved one or acquaintance, it usually means the end of something. The end of a period or a feeling, such as the end of your current job or relationship. This can also be in a less intense form, such as the end of the holiday.
It may also be that the person whose funeral is the main character with whom something ends. For example, is this person changing? Do you see them less often? This can give the feeling that something is ‘dying’.
2. Being in pain
No dream is as close to the truth as a dream in which you are in pain. The silly thing about this dream is that you can be in pain both during the day and at night. Is the pain during the day? Then the dream about pain is usually a sign of recovery.
Are you not in pain during the day? There is a good chance that you did not lie well in your sleep and that you experience in your dream what your body actually feels at that moment.
You run off an abyss, you fall from an airplane, jump from a tall building or the ground suddenly disappears beneath you. It’s one of the most common nightmares: falling. You wake up just as you fall.
Falling down is all about disappointments and feeling abandoned. It goes hand in hand with performance anxiety. These kinds of nasty falls are common in people with depression.
4. Being chased
Big panic, waking up sweating because you’re running into an accident. You probably feel the pressure in your daily life of something that needs to be done, something that needs to be done. Do you have a deadline at work or do you still have to study for that one important exam? There is a good chance that this causes the bad dream.
5. Malpractice in school
Even though you have been out of school for years, this dream can still be common. School is the first place where we learn some of the structure of working life. You have to be on time, plan homework, be able to take things from different people and you learn to work together.
This type of dream indicates that you are not comfortable in your current career. Perhaps you feel that you are being checked or tested too much, or are things going on with colleagues? It may also be that you are not sure enough about your case and need to check whether you need help at work.
6. Dangerous animals
Being hunted by a lion, cornered by a snake or almost devoured by a shark? There is a good chance that you also experience anxiety during the day. Are you worried about something or afraid of something or an event? This will explain this dream.
7. Teeth falling out
This dream is very specific. The thought behind it is a bit more general, because you are probably worried about the future. This does not only have to be about getting older, for example, but can also be when you start a new relationship, have a new job or move house.
In addition, the loss of teeth can indicate that you have difficulty expressing your feelings and thoughts, or that you are afraid that you have shared too much of yourself with someone.
Are you just naked, in public? Do you have to speak in front of a group and are you not wearing any clothes? Do you walk down the street and find out that you forgot to get dressed?
This can indicate that you are sitting with shame or a feeling of guilt. There is only one way to really get rid of this. Talk about it with someone.
What to do about nightmares
There are a few things you can do to make sure you’re less likely to wake up drenched in sweat. Not everyone is the same, so it’s just a matter of figuring out what works best for you.
Do you have a certain type of bad dream that keeps coming back? Then make sure you talk it off. Bad dreams are nothing strange, it can be very interesting to talk about them with others.
Writing down what you experienced at night can also help. Try to describe in detail what you saw and how you felt. Make it a real story, and make it a positive ending. You may unconsciously take this positive closure with you when you go to sleep.
Furthermore, a healthy lifestyle is of course important. Do not drink excessively, watch your diet and make sure you go to bed at the right time. Avoid coffee and sugars before going to sleep.
Your worst nightmare?
Do you recognize yourself in an explanation as described above? Do you have recurring nightmares? And what is your greatest fear?
Let us know in one comment below!
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