The bad dreams that sometimes haunt our nights have a surprising characteristic: some are recurrent and shared by a majority of people, according to a study. Here are the 10 most common nightmares and their meaning.
Even as adults, we all wake up sweating, heart pounding, afraid of what we call a nightmare. A bad time to go through which, fortunately, dissipates as soon as you get up. But why do we have bad dreams? A German study answers the question.
Group the diagrams to better understand them
It’s difficult to make generalizations about nightmares because science hasn’t yet agreed on why we dream. “But there are basic patterns in nightmare themes that can help you translate what your brain is trying to express”, says Michael Schredl, director of the sleep laboratory at the Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim, and author of the study. “These dreams are related to the problems that each person encounters in their waking life” he confirms.
In 2018, Schredl and his colleague analyzed more than 1,200 nightmares, asking participants to remember their most recent distressing dream. They then categorized them into common themes in an effort to identify the emotions you face in your subconscious. Here are the 10 most reported nightmares.
Infestation, whether caused by vermin, insects, robots, or demons, is the 10th most shared nightmare. It could represent a fear of illness or dirt, or anything else you personally associate with mice, cockroaches or rats, Schredl said. This could also be an example of feeling unsafe or unsafe in your home.
9. The evil presence
In ninth place, the presence of an entity near one’s bed is also often reported. But according to the Cleveland Clinic, these types of sleep hallucinations often affect people with sleep paralysis, which occurs when the parts of the brain that keep you still during sleep and those that keep you asleep communicate poorly. To this would be added the characters from horror films or scary stories straight out of your imagination and which would reflect your fear of the moment.
8. Natural or nuclear disaster
The impression of the end of times materialized by a natural disaster (fire, tsunami, etc.) or a nuclear explosion is also a recurring theme. This could signal a general apprehension about the future, or an event that you fear. Unless it is simply the trauma of a catastrophe already experienced.
7. The feeling of worry
In seventh place is not a vision, but a feeling. That situation where, in your nightmare, you know that you are forgetting something, that you have missed something important without knowing what it is. In short, worry is at its peak. Fear of the unknown seems to be something many of us share, even in our dreams.
Interpersonal conflicts are the sixth most common conflict. In these scenarios, the dreamer is in the middle of or witness to an argument. These dreams could be emblematic of some social anxiety you feel about a personal relationship.
5. Illness and death
Health problems and deaths fell right in the middle of the survey and were present in 11.6% of reported nightmares. In these types of nightmares, the dreamer reported seeing themselves or a loved one fall ill, suffer illness, or die. These illness dreams are complex and can represent many things depending on your personal life. They could be emblematic of a general fear of illness and death or a feeling of loss of control over your personal well-being.
4. Being chased
In these dreams, you might be being chased by a human, an evil presence, or something you can’t even see. For the researcher, this would be avoidance behavior. So, generally, dreams of being chased mean that you are worried about something that you are avoiding in your daily life.
3. Being a victim or witness to an accident
Falls, car accidents, drowning, etc., are found in 15% of reports, with men more often expressing dreams of a fall. Of course, these dreams can represent a fear of heights, driving, or the ocean. But they could also represent a feeling of loss of control, a fear of death or a feeling of helplessness
2. Physical aggression
The second most common nightmare is physical assault. In these scenarios, the dreamer may be attacked, participate in a fight, or see other people escape. This type of nightmare may reflect social anxiety, a literal fear of violence, or fears of being vulnerable to criticism from others.
In first position is the large category of failure and helplessness shared by 18% of participants. It is this famous nightmare which reflects the inability to achieve a goal, being late for an important appointment, the inability to speak, to go to an exam, to fail it. Scenarios that likely evoke a lack of confidence in your own abilities or how others view performance.