Most of us are way too familiar with the occasional stress dream. You know the one I’m talking about, that one where your boss shows up furious because you forgot to send an urgent report. Or that other anxiety-ridden dream where you think you missed a deadline. Even the dream about forgetting to pay the bills can wake up anyone at 3 in the morning.
What We Know about Stress Dreams
Unlike our brain and how it works, scientists are still clueless about how our dreams work. In a nutshell, stress dreams happen because, well, we’re stressed! It happens to all of us, and those nightmares in the middle of the night, affect men and women alike.
One analysis of dream reports found that 80% of men’s and 77% of women’s dreams had some negative element, whether it was sadness, confusion, anger, or apprehension. Only 53% of dreams by both men and women in the analysis included several positive elements.
The Stress-Sleep Cycle
These anxiety dreams might just be connected to the effects stress has on our bodies. When we reach a point of chronic stress or when we struggle with chronic anxiety, it’s no surprise these symptoms can creep into our dreams uninvited.
The stress-sleep cycle forces us to keep running in a hamster wheel that we can’t seem to get off:
- You don’t sleep enough due to nightmares.
- You feel stressed during the day.
- Your stress levels keep you turning at night.
- Your poor sleeping habits interfere with your wellbeing.
What Do These Dreams Mean Anyway?
Occasionally, these stress dreams are so vivid that we believe our subconscious is trying to send us a message. We begin psychoanalyzing every aspect of the dream, looking for answers. While there isn’t a scientific definition that goes with our most common anxiety nightmares, there are some possible meanings.
Here are some meanings behind the most common stress dreams:
Forgetting something: It’s a sense of disappointment. You’re most likely stressed about this thing and feel pressure to make it happen.
Falling feeling: It indicates a loss of control. Most likely, you’ve taken on too much and are starting to feel burned out.
Being late: It could be you’re struggling to handle expectations or that perhaps you’re putting too much pressure on yourself.
How to Control Stress Dreams
Unfortunately, we don’t have a say in the things we dream about. However, we do have a say in how we manage our stress levels. Mindfully looking at the signals, our bodies send about the way stress is affecting it is the best place to start.
Here are some resources to help you keep anxiety dreams at bay:
A Word from GR8NESS
While stress dreams every so often is common, repetitive dreams mean you need to take a step back. Try to make time for a self-care break, consider starting a sleep routine, and acknowledge that you’re stressed. Consider keeping a dream journal; this way. You can keep tabs on how often they’re happening. If you start noticing an increase in frequency, take a step back, and focus on finding a relaxation technique that works for you.