Everyone knows the feeling. You're in the depths of a deep snooze when, all of a sudden, you feel like you're submerged in water. And now you're falling down a steep staircase. And now a snake is trailing you? All at once? Isn't sleep a time for relaxation?! At times, anxieties can haunt you in your dreams, and make themselves known in strange ways — and in fact, there are some common dreams that are caused by anxiety, which each have their own distinctive meanings.
The recommended amount of sleep is eight hours in order to feel properly rested. But if you're stressing in your dreams, you're hardly getting any of that coveted rest — especially with the added anxiety and pressures of the pandemic. From doomscrolling to wondering when life will get back to “normal,” your daily worries could be manifesting themselves as stress dreams.
"Anxiety dreams are more than just anxiety related. Our dreams are a way for us to process information from the day, the week, the month, and the years. They are also a way to process thoughts and feelings that are front of mind by attaching them to stories," Joshua Klapow, Ph.D. clinical psychologist and host of 'The Kurre and Klapow Show' tells Bustle. They can either be related directly to an event that's actually happening in our lives or be more symbolic. Whether or not it's reflecting an actual event, the dream is representing a real emotion.
Common dreams that you have can indicate general fears and anxieties, but mean something completely personal to the dreamer. "Focus on the emotion in the dream and ask yourself if that emotion in the dream is consistent with what is going on in your life," Klapow says. In the long run, you can learn something from your anxiety dreams — mainly, pinpointing the problem your subconscious dredges up so you can actually get restful sleep. Read ahead for a stress dream dictionary to help you decode your unpleasant night thoughts.