We focus on our “dreams” as a means of achieving them, but tend to forget that these dreams aren’t usually the things that run through our minds while we sleep. There’s no better feeling than waking up from a “good dream” that temporarily grants you a fantasy version of wealth, romance, or success (and no worse feeling than realizing that none of it is true). And then there’s the shock you awake during night, make you think about it all day “bad dream,” that we try to analyze after we’ve woken up. Some are standard, such as showing up to work or school naked or experiencing the death of a loved one. But do these negative images mean anything and how can we avoid them?

There are many things that encourage nightmares, such as sleeping in a funny position, eating before going to bed, or allowing outside noise such as the television to interfere with what should be a restful and quiet time. However, no matter what we do to avoid them, it’s natural to have nightmares occasionally; scientists estimate that 75% of our dream emotions are negative but can’t agree on what the emotions and images we experience while dreaming mean.

Some therapists say that bad dreams reflect deep fears or surface anxieties, while the new age set insists that dreams help us commune with the dead or predict the future. Dreaming about a death, for example, is supposed to mean that someone you know is having a baby according to an old wives tale, but it’s a safer bet to say that such a nightmare reflects your feelings about certain chapter of your life coming to a close or genuine concern about the welfare of the person in your dream.

Nightmares about tripping or falling that wake me up just before I hit the ground, dreams where my teeth are loose or falling out, and elaborate fantasy scenarios that involve me being chased by someone top my list of usual nightmares. No matter how old I get I still always have to remind myself that none of it was real!

Do you have nightmares? What do you think they mean?

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