On average, you dream around five times every night. Dreams can range from pleasant or sensible to nasty or utter nonsense, and can give you a glimpse into the subconscious mind.
Most peaceful dreams allow you to sleep through the night, while stressful dreams wake you up during sleep. To understand your dreams better and hopefully get rid of them, read on to learn all about stress dreams and what they mean.
You dream every night, though you may not remember it.
During a normal night of sleep, your body will alternate between non-REM and REM sleep several times. You will spend more time in REM sleep as the night goes on. As you sleep, your body goes through cycles of non-REM and REM sleep. REM sleep is when our brains are most active during a sleep cycle. We spend more time in REM sleep as the night goes on.
After periods of light and deep sleep, you typically enter REM sleep about 90 minutes after falling asleep. Each REM period gets longer as the night goes on, so you dream more as the night progresses.
At this stage of sleep, your heart rate and breathing become more active, your eyes move under your eyelids, and your brain is more active.
If you wake up during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, you may feel disoriented and groggy. This is because stress dreams often happen during REM sleep and can wake you up. After having a stress dream, you may feel disoriented for a few minutes.
Common Stress Dreams
This dream may suggest that you are in a situation that is not going well. You might have been in this situation for a long time, and it might have gotten worse and worse, to the point where you feel like you can’t do anything to fix it.
This indicates that the person is feeling a lack of security and control in their life.
If all you can do while falling is scream, you are not facing your fears head on. You are running away from them.
You may be experiencing poor mental health, a strained relationship, or the threat of job loss.
2. Being Chased
In many nightmares, you are trying to escape from something terrifying but you cannot run fast enough. You may not know or see what is chasing you, but you just know that you need to get away.
A dream about something chasing you can be stressful, but it may not be as bad as you think. You may still feel panicky and anxious, though. This sort of dream suggests that you are shirking something in your life.
For example, you may dream about a bear chasing you. The mere word “bear” has little to do with your fear. Or you may be afraid of the word “bear” because it has negative connotations for you. Looking at bear dreams through the lens of someone who has a healthy respect for them would result in a very different interpretation than if the dreamer had been attacked by bears as a child.
If you’re dreaming of running away, it may be because you’re trying to avoid something in your real life. Try to figure out what that is and address it head-on.
3. Losing Your Teeth
Tooth dreams are often linked to feelings of powerlessness. Dreams about your teeth falling out or a dentist pulling them out may represent a situation that you feel powerless to change.
This dream suggests that you have a problem that you cannot solve.
This problem could be anything that has caused you high psychological stress, such as the death of a loved one or the loss of your job.
Try to find ways to make yourself feel better about the situation you’re in, even if you can’t change it. Recognizing that you can’t change what’s happening but can change how you think about it can help you feel more in control.
It may be helpful to speak with a grief counselor and to talk with others who have experienced something similar. Allowing yourself to feel all of your emotions gives your brain the opportunity to make sense of the significant changes in your life; this is an important step in coming to terms with the situation.
4. Running Late
Missing flights or walking into a meeting half an hour late are common types of stress dreams. Dreams like this usually are symbolic of a situation in your life where you feel unprepared or overwhelmed.
Your dreams are symbolic of times in your life when you are struggling to meet demands, whether they be related to your work, finances, or a greater purpose.
If you’re not making progress on your work or personal goals, you’ll just end up having a lot of unfinished business.
To avoid feeling unprepared, try managing your time better and making sure you go to bed early. Good time management can make you more efficient, giving you more time to figure out a plan to meet your goals.
5. Being Naked In Public
Not many people can say they have never dreamt of being naked in public. Being naked in public is one of the most easily explained stress dreams and it can make you feel exposed and uneasy.
This type of dream usually symbolizes negative feelings like embarrassment or shame. Alternatively, it could be a sign of fearing vulnerability.
If you dream that you are naked, it means that you are feeling emotionally exposed or vulnerable. Dreams about being naked often symbolize issues related to intimacy and trust.
If you are someone who does not share their emotions easily, being emotionally vulnerable can be very scary and make you anxious. It can feel uncomfortable to share your “weak” side with someone.
It is important to remember that being intimate with someone is a good thing! You will not be able to have strong relationships if you keep people at a distance.
You will benefit from radical honesty and deep trust if you keep pushing yourself a little bit outside of your comfort zone.
6. Losing Something Valuable
The things you dream about represent the things that are important to you. If you dream about losing something valuable, it may be because you feel like you’re compromising on what’s important to you.
If you dream about being lost, it means that you have forgotten what is important to you in life.
Many people have stress dreams after experiencing something emotionally difficult. When you’re in a difficult situation, it can show you where you may have been compromising on your values or beliefs.
It can be helpful to take some time to think about what you value and write it down. You may realize that you have been ignoring, avoiding, or compromising on some of these values.
If you can determine what is causing you stress in your life, you can work on addressing that issue and refocusing on what is important to you. Taking some time off from work to focus on your stress and how it has impacted your life may help you to determine what steps you need to take next.
7. Losing Control Of a Vehicle
The meaning of a dream about driving can vary depending on whether it is an enjoyable experience or a stressful one. If you dream about losing control of your car, it may represent a feeling of powerlessness in your life.
The dream suggests that you feel you lack control or responsibility in your life.
Do you ever feel like you can’t take responsibility for yourself? Losing control of a dream car shows that anxiety. You’re worried that if you take control, everything will go wrong. You’ll make mistakes, put people in danger, and disappoint people who have trusted you.
What is causing you to feel anxious about taking control? Is it a lack of confidence in your abilities? Or do you have too much going on in your life right now?
The only way to resolve the power struggle in your dreams is to find the root of your unease.
If someone else is driving, it may mean you don’t want to give up control. The idea of someone else affecting your future scares you, and it feels like letting them take charge will completely get you off track.
If you’re worried that someone will take over your business, talk to people you trust for their opinion. Then you can decide whether to give up control or make sure it doesn’t happen.
8. The World Ending
Common themes of end-of-the-world dreams include nuclear war, rising water levels, and collisions with comets or asteroids. Also known as “Armageddon dreams”, dreams about the end of the world are caused by physical and/or emotional stress.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, your subconscious mind may cause you to imagine catastrophic events.
This type of dream indicates a deep internal struggle. When you’re going through a tough situation, it can feel like you’re fighting the world by yourself.
Reach out to your relatives and confide in them about your emotions. Request their assistance and suggestions for how to handle making a difficult choice or resolving a disagreement.
If you have help, you will be able to sleep through the night.
How to Stop Stress Dreams
One method of reducing stress is to try different relaxation techniques. This may be difficult to do, but there are many different ways to relax that are effective.
You should keep trying different options until you find one that works for you.
1. Yoga, Meditation, and the Mindfulness Movement
Although it may be difficult to commit to a practice of mindfulness, it is worth the effort. Meditating regularly can help you to relax and de-stress.
Slowing down and taking a break may seem counter-intuitive, but it can actually help you to be more productive when dealing with a problem.
Yoga can help you relax at bedtime and is a healthier alternative to drinking alcohol. It can also improve your sleep quality.
If you’re not interested in yoga, there are still plenty of ways to get involved with the mindfulness movement and to calm yourself with a mindful activity. Try a meditation app on your phone or a mindful coloring book.
2. Cut Out Caffeine and Alcohol
It should be obvious that caffeine prevents sleep, but you might not know that alcohol affects the quality of sleep.
Alcohol consumption may help you fall asleep more quickly, however it inhibits deep and restorative sleep.
The scientists found that alcohol disrupts sleep in a way that is similar to how chronic pain affects sleep.
It is not healthy to try to relieve stress by drinking alcohol. This will lead to more anxiety and feeling tired.
3. Have an Evening Routine
I’ve always been a night owl and I used to be awful in the mornings, but now I can get up and go for a run, take a walk, or do yoga.
I go against my night owl instincts by having a night time routine and consistent bedtime. Your night time routine should include going to bed at a regular time. I get up at 6am, so I try to go to bed around 10:30. I often wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the day. I usually have a light breakfast at around 7:30.
I take care of any preparations for the next day in the evening. This assures me that I will feel prepared for the next day and not fret when I try to get to sleep. If I don’t do these things, I’ll get into bed and a voice will say either “you haven’t made lunch” or “is your gym bag ready?”, and then I’ll have to get out of bed and deal with these issues.
I love skincare so much that when I have to take my makeup off at the end of the day, it feels like a signal to my body that it’s time to go to bed. It might also have something to do with the lavender scent.
Find a routine before bed that will help your brain relax and prepare for sleep. This could be something like a skincare routine, yoga, or reading. Just make sure that the activity you choose is one that will actually help you sleep.
4. Keep the Room Cool
A lower temperature is better for sleeping because when your body prepares for sleep, your body temperature has to drop in order to fall asleep. So it can be helpful to lower the temperature of your room to help your body out.
You’ll have a hard time sleeping if you don’t regulate your body temperature.
If you’re looking for a way to improve your sleep habits, try taking a hot bath or shower before bed. The drop in body temperature that happens afterwards can help you feel sleepy.
It’s not a secret that exercise can help you reduce stress and give you an endorphin boost.
Solo exercises like running and swimming give you time to be alone with your brain. They can help you to think through whatever is bothering you and clear your head.
Exercising is a great way to get rid of stress and anxiety, meaning you are less likely to have nightmares.
6. Talk It Out or Write It Down
There’s a saying that claims that you don’t know what you think until you try to say it out loud. I think this is very true when it comes to stress.
If you don’t talk about your stress, it will get worse. Ignoring stress will not make it go away.
It’s important not to underestimate how important it is to say what’s bothering you. Shakespeare told us that “giving words to sorrow” can help prevent the grief that comes from bottling up your emotions. Shakespeare knows what he’s talking about when it comes to communication, so pick up the phone and talk to a loved one or write down your feelings in a journal.
No matter what you do, say it out loud. You’ll be surprised at how much clarity a conversation can bring.
7. Implement a No-Screen Rule
If you keep your phone close to your bed, you’ll probably feel the need to respond to one more text, check the weather for tomorrow, or do more research on something you’re thinking about.
Plug your phone in far away from you so that you’re not tempted to look at it and give yourself time to relax so you can sleep better.
Exposing yourself to phone light promotes wakefulness and prevents your brain from resting. This is also true for televisions, tablets, and other mobile devices which use similar backlighting.
READ MORE: Water Before Bed Can Improve Sleep