The Meaning, Symptoms, and Causes for Nightmares and Bad Dreams

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Nightmares and bad dreams are often caused by emotional issues or a reaction to medication.

A nightmare can be very distressing whether it is a child experiencing one or an adult. Nightmares are bad dreams that can be very terrifying. The dreamer feels as if the dream is real and the monster is chasing them or someone is strangling them or they are actually falling off a cliff, or from a high building. Most adults have experienced a nightmare or bad dream at some point during their life.

These nightmares or bad dreams are so real-like the body responds as if it really was a life threatening situation.

Symptoms of nightmares or bad dreams

  • The pulse of the dreamer might begin to race and the dreamer can break out into a sweat. This is the due to the body's fear response.
  • The dreams can become so intense that the dreamers may awake during their nightmares or bad dreams.

What causes a nightmare or bad dream?

  • Stress or trauma in a dreamer's life may trigger nightmares and bad dreams. Sometimes the nightmares and bad dreams are induced because the mind is troubled from and accumulation of too much worry. It is the hormones that are released during these stressful times that can cause a nightmare or bad dream.
  • Major life crises such as death, divorce, loss of job, family member who is sick or jailed, can cause the dreamer to have nightmares or bad dreams. Any kind of dream is related in some way to what we are experiencing in daily life.
  • Other times it could be a physical reaction to certain medications or even a certain kind of illness, or high fever may bring it on.
  • Eating a heavy meal before going to bed may bring them on.
  • Certain sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and narcolepsy can bring them on.

Do nightmares and bad dreams have a meaning?

There is no empirical evidence to support this claim, however, if a dreamer believes there are meaning to these dreams then consulting a psychotherapist or professional dream translator for further information.

On the other hand, dream researchers hypothesize that nightmares and bad dreams are a result of:

  • anger
  • blame
  • fear
  • frustration
  • Embarrassment
  • past issue that have never been dealt with
  • emotional problems

Technique to calm yourself after a bad dream or nightmare

Once you wake up from a bad dream or nightmare before going back to sleep try to calm yourself by visualizing a good ending to the bad dream or nightmare you just had. For example, if a strange man was running after you, envision him catching up to you and announcing you just won a million dollars. If you were falling from the sky, envision that your parachute opens and you have a wonderful flight back to a grassy pasture. These visualizations will help you change the focus of your nightmare and bad dream, to something positive and help you relax as you go back to sleep.

Nightmares or bad dreams are often forgotten. If they remembered they are ignored the following day. Even though the mind tries to ignore these dreams, the body has taken note and the dreamer may be irritable, grumpy, or jumpy the following day. Reoccurring nightmares and bad dreams as such can render a person in a state of anxiety and if these dreams are chronic medical attention should be sought after. Your doctor will determine if there is a physical reason or underlying cause. If it is determined to be psychological the doctor might suggest psychotherapy or counseling.

Sources embedded in the text


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