Nightmares are extremely common. There can’t be many of us who hasn’t had a nightmare at some point in our lives. They can be very scary, and we often wake up feeling anxious and frightened.
What Does it Mean if You Have a Nightmare?
Nightmares usually happen during the REM (rapid eye movement) phase of sleep. This occurs after you have been asleep for a few hours. Often you feel that your nightmares are exceptionally long and while you might not remember dreams too well, it is common to remember many of the details of a nightmare. If you are highly stressed, it is likely that you will experience a lot of nightmares.
It is important to understand what the nightmares mean. You need to take a look at your waking life and see what is bothering you and might have caused you to have a nightmare. Understanding the dream can make you feel less scared.
Here are some things it might mean when you have a bad dream:
Are You Afraid of Something?
When you come to study your nightmares, it is a good idea to ascertain if there is something you are afraid of. Nightmares and dreams are usually an extension of waking life, and what you are afraid of when awake can manifest itself as a symbol in your dreams. Dreams and nightmares can help to show us what we really feel about a situation.
Your fears can take any form. Perhaps you are afraid of spiders or crocodiles. Maybe you feel as if someone at work is going behind your back and discrediting you. Perhaps you are worried that the relationship between you and your partner is going downhill. Maybe it’s something simple that you are afraid of, like going on a foreign vacation. You could be worried that you have to do something or meet someone you’d rather not.
Something is Bothering you from the Past
Sometimes events from the past haunt you and you can’t get over them. It is common to have nightmares if you find it hard to accept what you did in the past. Perhaps if you had done something different, your life could be happier.
Many of us have dreams of being back at school or in an old job or relationship. If you have unresolved feelings about these times, it is not surprising if you have nightmares.
You are Coping with Trauma and Grief
If you have been through any sort of trauma, you could easily have a nightmare about what has happened. Perhaps someone attacked you or you were in a car accident. The dream could relate to the incident or it may symbolize the event.
You might find that you are being chased by a monster. The monster could symbolize your attacker. Being chased often means that you are running away from your fears and it is time you stood up to them and worked your way through the trauma so that you can move on.
Perhaps you have lost someone close to you and are finding it hard to accept that this person has gone. You will probably go through many different emotions such as anxiety, uncertainty, sadness, and anger. You may dream of a person who has died which means that you are trying to come to terms with the situation but are finding it difficult to process the grief. You are unable to let go.
Physical Reasons and Causes
If you are injured or become seriously ill, you might have nightmares about what has happened. Some medicines can cause bad dreams, such as medications for high blood pressure, anti-depressants, and steroids, as well as drugs for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Even herbal supplements can give you nightmares.
If you are having nightmares, but don’t feel ill or stressed, it could be that you need to talk to a doctor to see if there is some underlying cause.
Common Nightmare Dream Symbols and Their Meanings
It is possible to stop nightmares if you can interpret the meaning and symbols of the dream. If you can, try and consider each important object, event, and person so that you can get a full picture. Here we will give you some symbols that you might see in a nightmare.
Scary Creatures and Animals
Perhaps you have a phobia about, for example, snakes or spiders. If you do, you may have a dream about them which can be extremely frightening. However, the dream might not have anything to do with the creatures and they could just be symbols. For example, a snake represents a toxic person in your life. Spiders represent female power. Maybe there is a woman in your life who has a hold over you.
Dreaming of demons often signifies someone we are not comfortable with but can’t find a way of avoiding. On a more frightening level, a demon could represent a crisis that we are trying to deal with. You want to escape from it, but you can’t find a way.
If you dream of an alien taking you to its ship, it is a warning. You could be heading towards a big catastrophe. Aggressive aliens can suggest that you have enemies.
If you have dreams of falling or being trapped, it can be frightening. Often you will dream of such things when you are feeling anxious in your waking life or have worries that a situation will turn out negative. Sometimes, however, you will dream of such a phobia just because you are afraid of it.
If you dream of falling, you often wake up feeling helpless. If you are trapped physically in a dream, it could mean that you are trapped psychologically by someone in your life and you don’t know how you can escape from them. You could also be trapped by debt with no money to pay the bills.
Change and Transformation
Sometimes we have nightmares because something has drastically changed. Although these dreams seem frightening while you’re having them, they often just signify change. If you dream that you are dead (see also dreaming about your own funeral meaning), perhaps you will be getting a new job or more negatively, a divorce. It doesn’t specifically mean that you are going to die.
If you dream of someone close to you dying, it can be scary, but it may just reflect your feelings in everyday life. Perhaps you are scared that this person will leave you, perhaps by dying if they are ill, or because they no longer love you. If you dream about a loved one who has died, it can mean that you don’t want to let them go. It can be a very upsetting dream.
It is distressing if you dream of committing a murder, but it can have different meanings. On the one hand, it could be a symbol of a period in your life coming to an end. On the other hand, it can be that an enemy is coming into your life again. Usually, however, you dream of committing murder when you are feeling depressed.