We all have nightmares or bad dreams from time to time and it’s never a pleasant experience. What’s the reason behind having bad dreams? There are a couple reasons why nightmares occur. Sometimes there are physical reasons such as illness or fever, or taking certain medications, which can effect our dreams. But if you aren’t sick or taking medication, why else might you suffer from bad dreams?
The other main cause of bad dreams is stress and anxiety. Dreams are our minds way of processing information that it is not able to consciously do when we are awake. As we sleep, our mind processes information and deals with stress, anxiety and trauma through our dreams. Dreams help our mind to release bottled up stress that we might be holding on to in our lives. Similarly, if we are going through any major changes in our lives or dealing with any major events that are having an effect on our emotions, we will often see our minds working through the stress through bad dreams. Some examples of stressful situations that our minds may be processing through bad dreams are:
· The death of a loved one
· Changing jobs or schools
· A conflict with a close friend
· A break up
While bad dreams are stressful and unpleasant to wake up to, they aren’t actually harmful in any way. It’s hard to believe, but bad dreams are actually a good thing, as our minds are working through unpleasant emotions that we need to process, but can’t consciously do on our own. In this way, bad dreams can have a cleansing effect.
If you find yourself having bad dreams constantly and want to stop the cycle, try doing some soul searching and working through some of your stress while you’re awake to help minimize the amount of work your mind needs to do while you’re asleep. Great ways to help process anxiety and stress while awake are through exercise, journaling, talking to a friend, etc. Basically, anything that is releasing the stress out of your body and mind instead of keeping it bottled up inside. Actively releasing stress by day can help to minimize the amount of processing that needs to take place in our minds as we sleep, which will help to reduce the number of bad dreams that you have.