5 Most common types of nightmares

October 26, 2020 4 mins read
5 Most common types of nightmares

We’re pretty sure you’ve experienced one of these common nightmares: Are you naked in public again? Or is it that “I’m being chased by something” dream? Whatever it is, nightmares are the absolute worst.

If you’re the type of person who believes that dreams have meanings (because let’s face it, they must, right?), then you’re probably wondering what your nightmares mean, and why on earth you keep having them over and over again.

But, before you’re flung awake in a discombobulation of missing clothes (again), read on to understand the message behind these weird dreams.

What is the reason for having nightmares?

During sleep, we dip between different depths of sleep stages. Nightmares happen in our fifth stage of sleep during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep when our brains are most active while our bodies are entirely at rest. As REM sleep periods lengthen as the night goes on, our nightmares often happen in the longer REM periods.

However, nightmares or weird dreams are not only due to our brain activity during REM sleep. These other factors can also contribute to bad dreams:

  • Eating close to bedtime. Food fuels our metabolism, which sends our brain into an active state. When your brain is active, your dreams become more vivid and can lead to nightmares.
  • Taking medication. If you’re on any medication, take note of your dream vibes. If they’re leaning more to the weird and nightmarish side, you may want to chat to your GP to change your meds.
  • Not getting enough sleep. Not getting enough z’s may bring on nightmares, and having nightmares can lead to lost sleep. (A vicious cycle, we know).
  • You have a sleep disorder. Sleep-related issues such as sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome can lead to nightmares.
  • Feeling stressed. An anxious or stressed mind is a recipe for a night of strange dreams.

What are the most common nightmares?

First, they jolt you awake, then leave you in a tangle of emotions as you lie there all sweaty trying to figure out what on earth it all means… But, you’re not alone. Your weird nightmare could be one of these common nightmares that most people experience, so let’s find out what they mean.

1. You’re being chased

In this dream, you are either being followed or being chased but can’t seem to get away fast enough (or dare even move.) This could be linked with a goal you’re pursuing in real life. Could you be feeling frustrated with your lack of progress? Or feel like you’ll never be able to achieve it?

2. Your teeth are falling out (yikes!)

If you’ve had this dream about losing teeth then you’ll know what it’s like to wake from it. (Freaked out!) This too is a very common nightmare and is related to fears of self-acceptance and how others perceive you. Other interpretations have said that it’s to do with stress, jealousy and feeling powerless.

3. You’re falling (and falling, and falling)

Have you ever had the dream where it feels like you’re falling forever, but you don’t seem to hit the ground? This is the most common nightmare of them all. Said to be linked to your nervous system as it shuts down for the night, this causes your muscles to relax and in a dream world resemble a sensation of falling.

4. You’re completely nude, in public

This one feels all too familiar. You’re going about your day and then, oh boy, you’re in your birthday suit. Being naked in public and feeling anxious in your dream highlights your insecurities around vulnerability and how people perceive you in your waking life.

5. You’re dreaming of death

Interestingly, this dream has nothing to do with physical death or dying. Instead, it signifies your feelings towards something important coming to an end (and embarking on a new beginning.) It’s also been related to overcoming a habit or thoughts around ending a relationship.

Why we dream and what we dream about are always going to be fascinating topics of discussion. As there is no one-dream-analysis-fits-all, learning from your dreams is about looking at your experiences, understanding your daily subconscious thoughts and creating a connection that makes sense to you.