Why we have nightmares

A nightmare is a disturbing dream that is usually associated with negative feelings, such as anxiety or fear, that causes the person to wake up in the middle of the night. Nightmares are most common in children and adolescents, however they can occur at any age.

Having nightmares from time to time is normal and may be associated with stress or anxiety, some trauma, poor sleep hygiene or medications, however, if they become too frequent to the point of causing distress, poor sleep quality, fear of going to sleep or even problems throughout the day, they may be considered a disorder and in these cases, medical follow-up may be necessary.

Why we have nightmares

Nightmares occur during a sleep phase called REM phase, but their exact cause is still unknown. Learn more about sleep phases.

However, it has been observed that nightmares tend to be triggered by factors such as:

  • Stress and anxiety, such as everyday problems, receiving bad news, or losing a loved one;
  • Injuries, such as those resulting from a serious accident, physical or sexual abuse, or other traumatic event;
  • Sleep deprivation, which can occur in people who work shifts, travel to places with a different time zone, sleep only a few hours, or suffer from insomnia;
  • Medications, such as antidepressants, blood pressure medications, or medications to treat Parkinson’s disease or to stop smoking;
  • Abuse of alcohol or drugs, or even weaning yourself off these substances;
  • Watching scary movies or reading scary books, especially before going to sleep.

Nightmares can also be caused by psychological disorders, such as depression, other mental problems, or post-traumatic stress, which can be caused by some of the above factors, even though it may have happened in the past. Learn what symptoms may be associated with this psychological disorder.

Why we have nightmares

Symptoms that occur during a nightmare

Nightmares are usually short-lived, but after waking up, the person may have some difficulty getting back to sleep. Some symptoms that may occur during a nightmare are the dream seems very real and disturbing, making the person feel threatened, and when they wake up they feel scared, anxious, irritable, sad, or nauseous, depending on the type of nightmare that occurred.

In addition, the person may sweat profusely and have a very fast heart rate, which make it difficult for them to resume sleep peacefully.

How to stop having nightmares

There are some ways to reduce the frequency with which nightmares occur, such as setting fixed times for going to sleep and waking up. For those who have trouble falling asleep, you can read a book or take a relaxing bath before going to bed.

If the cause of the nightmare is stress and anxiety, the ideal is to seek a doctor to help the person solve the problem or to practice relaxation exercises.

Nightmares in children

In the case of children, they can be asked to draw about the nightmare or talk about the characters in the nightmare and try to explain that none of it is real or even construct a happy ending to the story.

In addition, the child may feel safer if he sleeps with an object he likes such as a teddy bear or a scarf that he likes, with the door open to his room and to his parents’ room. You can also put a nightlight in the room so that the child is not frightened by the room being too dark.

Check out the meaning of nightmares:


This dream is not good, as it warns that slips may appear in your life. In addition, it shows that you are unsure about your current plans and risk making serious mistakes. Keep an open eye on everything around you.


The meaning of nightmares involving accidents can be linked to your uncontrollable desire to get rid of a rival or your boss. If the accident is with you, an inheritance tends to appear. With others, it means that intrigues and setbacks may occur. If you suffer an accident and nothing happens to you, you will overcome obstacles.


A sign of fear or that you want to transfer certain responsibilities to other people.


This type of dream indicates that you should avoid traveling, new business, and new friendships for seven days. Drowning: may represent small losses.


This can indicate a dispute over affection. If you are the one verbally assaulting a stranger, you will win a lawsuit or get the revenge you desire. Morally assaulting a friend: you may have financial losses. Assaulting your family members in both ways: business news.


Witnessing one is a sign of a change of residence. Being the murderer indicates family quarrels or that you may suffer some injustice. Seeing a murderer go to jail: brief changes in your life.


If you dream of your own autopsy, it means you are in a good time to reflect on yourself, on what surrounds your day and perhaps it is time for profound changes in your life.


The appearance of this character in a dream is a sign that there is a person with a strong desire to harm you. Pay attention to new friends that may arise. If you are a witch in a dream, it means that you are afraid of others. To see other witches shows the falseness of people you know. Watch out!


If you are an adult: you are abandoning old patterns, but you should be careful with quick decisions. If you are a child: you are growing up. To fall down and get up quickly: you will be considered an honorable person. To see children fall: Pregnancy. Falling off a roof: your plans may fail. To fall on your knees is a dream that asks you to be careful not to have problems with humiliations.


Empty: financial losses. With someone: fulfillment of a hidden desire. Black: long life for the dreamer or illness of a relative. You in one: you are afraid of dying.


Indicates that you miss loved ones who are gone from this life. If you dream you went to a cemetery and the weather was fine, it means joy and protection from loved ones. If it is rainy and dark, it means a sad memory.

To cry

Your wishes will soon be fulfilled. Children crying: bet on lottery games. Friends crying: You will receive a nice gift.


Your self-love could be hurt. If you leave a scar on someone, it is a sign of infidelity. To have one: illness of a relative.


Represents renunciation, penitence, illness or death. Ashes of a relative indicates that money is coming. Your ashes: loss of possessions.


If you are undergoing surgery: sign that you will succeed in your plans. To dream that you perform surgery: lasting wealth. To see someone you know undergoing surgery: marriage soon. To see an unknown person die in a surgery: misfortune with a relative.


To dream that you lose your head in a dream indicates that you should achieve fulfillment if you work in commerce.

Unknown person

To see an unknown person: indicates happiness at home. To hug someone you don’t know: A sign of a trip. To want to kiss someone you don’t know: sensuality. Fight with someone you don’t know: Beware of gossip. Being pursued by a stranger: A lasting relationship.


See adult with dehydration: wedding news. Seeing child with dehydration: you may face arguments for not keeping a secret. Friends with dehydration: false friendship around. You with dehydration: loss of hope in love.

To undress

To be naked in a dream: gossip can cause sadness. To undress: a sign of happiness in love. To meet naked acquaintances: you will be visited by relatives.


To see him is synonymous of travel and prosperity. Talking to him represents a betrayal from a friend. Fighting against the devil shows danger in the financial sector. Seeing the devil making a prayer means that you will resist the pleasures of love.


To have: You’ll be happy with someone of the opposite sex. To pay: News at work. Charge: beware of losses. Owe friends: You have good intentions. Not wanting to pay: Expect difficult moments with your family.


This is a sign of good health. Seeing sick people indicates annoyances, sadness and setbacks in sight.


Seeing one: desire to uncover the unknown or strength and power. Fighting with one and losing: you have difficulty getting close to your beloved. Fight and win: success at work and in love.


Indicates difficult relationships with friends. Seeing someone using: time of trouble. Buy: Beware of dishonest people.


In the beginning: don’t be enslaved by your passions. At the end: solve problems. In another state or country: move house.


From a known person: sign of betrayal. From an unknown man: good news. From an unknown woman: You will receive positive energies or will drive away repressed desires. The burial itself: luck in gambling for three days.


See one: Unpleasant news about a distant relative. Seeing several: take better care of your business. Seeing one on fire: your sexuality is on the rise. Make one: luck in gambling for three days.


To see this object in a dream indicates that you may receive an invitation to a dinner party. It can also be a sign of an argument and that you need to control your impulses. Other interpretations: to find one: you will see someone who has been away for a long time. To buy a kitchen knife: tranquility in your family. Drop one: you may receive visits from undesirable people. Stabs: Break-up between friends.


The meaning of nightmares about ghosts most often show the emotional state of fear, insecurity, and the feeling of guilt. It can also be the arrival of bad news or risk in business. Seeing a ghost dressed in white means that you will have joys. In black, bad temptations.


An animal wounding you is a sign that you may suffer harm from an adversary. For both men and women, this dream can suggest fear of sexual aggression. Other interpretations: if it is a bull: presence of jealousy from a dangerous rival. Injuries to the heart: may indicate passion or suffering in love.


This type of dream means luck in life. To step in feces: You will receive a salary increase. To see cat feces: You should bet on some kind of game.


It means intrigues and arguments with family. It can also show the need for you to better organize your ideas and thoughts.


This is a dream that usually indicates a need for help, but you need to pay attention to details, because dreams about fires symbolize two extremes, the purifying or the destructive. Other interpretations: to see it is a sign of love drama. In your home it shows that you may go through lawsuit and financial hassles. You will have a period of success if you can put out the fire.


Being unhappy is a sign that you will be visited by a judge or an authority. If you see friends who are unhappy, you will be deceived. If you see strangers, a letter will bring you good news.


It is a sign that you will be disappointed. Escape from hell: good luck. Being in hell: luck in gambling for three days. To see an acquaintance in hell: Beware of betrayal.


This type of nightmare is connected with water spirits and can lead you to have knowledge about future events. Seeing a flood represents moving house. If the water is dirty or dark, trouble. If it is clear, prosperity.


If you dream that you are in the middle of one, it is a sign that you are desperate for some reason. An open sky labyrinth shows difficulty in finding the right path in your life. Seeing yourself inside one, misdirection. Not being able to get out of it shows disorganization. Finding your way out indicates that you will overcome difficulties.


It is always related to fear, trauma, and anxiety, as well as showing annoyances in sight.


Beware of false friends. White: health for you and your family. Black: beware of fights and accidents.


Represents the need to get rid of problems. To see someone already dead is an indication that you will win a bet. To see someone dead, is a sign of wealth. To see a death, refers to health. It can also mean that you wish to finish something.


To dream that you are mutilating something shows that you will be able to defeat your enemies. To dream that you mutilate parts of your body indicates that you may have financial gains.


It corresponds to a feeling of not fitting in with the world, and which originates from a sense of inferiority and shame. But it can also have an erotic aspect, since nudity is the expression of a repressed desire. Artistic nudity: you have secret, intimate desires.


Chasing someone of the opposite sex: indicates passion. Otherwise, it is a sign of a new friendship. To suffer persecution: indicates that someone loves or hates you.


To dream of prison corresponds to a desire for solitude and meditation necessary to solve your own problems. Other interpretations: you may lose a very valuable friendship. To dream that someone imprisons you: shows that your intentions will not be understood. To dream that a friend is imprisoned for the night: times of misfortune for the dreamer.


Closer relationships and family harmony.


Often, a dream with fright indicates that your sleep has not been very good and that you are unable to disconnect from reality. Other interpretations: to be scared: victories. To scare someone: unexpected trip.


This can indicate that you need to put yourself in your place and measure your capacity, cleanse yourself spiritually and not think that you control all your strengths. Other interpretations: storm calming down: love being reborn. In general, it announces a change of situation.


The meaning of nightmares about tumors can be a sign of health problems or that you will face financial difficulties.


You will discover some important secret.


It is a sign of obstacles.

To take: health. To give it to someone: you will be the victim of slander. To drink: betrayal by someone close.

So, what did you think about the meanings of nightmares? Share them with your friends who are also suffering from bad dreams!

Dream Dictionary