Nightmares vs. Dreams pt. 1

You are falling, and falling into nothingness. Absolutely nothing and you have no idea where you are going. Or, you are being chased by your worst nightmare, except you can’t move. Ever heard of these scenarios that you’ve dreamed of? Most likely everyone has experienced a dream or nightmare such as this. What I want to differentiate between are dreams and nightmares, and why exactly we get these images in our heads. What causes them?

What causes what? In many cultures, when asked in a case study by Carey Morewhedge and Michael Norton by WebMD, students were supposed to hear about a recent increase in terrorist attacks on planes, plane crashes and test to see if they would dream about that if they had a flight the next day. Several of the students asked responded with the same level of anxiety when dreaming and hearing about a plane crash. They also stated they would most likely cancel their flight. Norton also found that people most likely attributed their good dreams with pleasant experiences, which makes sense and displeasing experiences with nightmares are more meaningful. I had an awful nightmare that was attacked by Orks from Lord of the Rings when I was about 7 and they has stuck with me because I hated the Orks so much. When dreams hold a specific memory with us, they seem to hold more meaning. Most of the things we dream are held close to ourselves, but then we have those random dreams that are caused a lot by stress and makes us toss and turn a lot. So personal experiences cause nightmares and dreams and I guess there could possibly be a reverse causation, because how you feel during the dream could make you feel the same way if you had to be part of a similar experience.

In the biblical times, many kings would have people come in to tell them what their dreams meant, like when Joseph, of Joseph with the technicolor coat told the king that his dream meant that there was going to be a famine. Some dreams do hold meaning, but I feel that in our day and age, some people do not hold these dreams to have any meaning in their lives. Sometimes I dream things that are happening in the future, like a test that I’m stressed about or a party that I’m looking forward to. One time I dreamed that my sister was going to lose her tooth the next day, and she did. So maybe sometimes our dreams hold a psychic part of ourselves that really do mean something.

Nightmares are categorized into different meanings. The infamous nightmare that you are being chased by a monster is considered a release nightmare in which you are being confronted with a problem head-on and the monster you are running from is yourself. These nightmares tend to be random and jumbled, basically your brain on steroids overthinking and needing to be controlled. There are certain nightmares that are considered to be healing because the neocortex will erase them after you’ve dreamed them and refresh you for a new day, so that is why sometimes you forget some dreams. We also have recurring nightmares that focus on past events that have scarred us, such as people with PTSD or like Katniss Everdeen having the recurring dreams in the arena in Hunger Games. Sometimes people that dream about their deaths means that a time of change or transition is occurring. The final nightmare is one with a recurring theme, but a different subject instead. As noted earlier, these dreams can be due to stress or possibly medications that you are on. If you would like to read more about understanding your nightmares check out The Nightmare Dictionary.

The Lucid Dream Mirror experiment is something worth trying in terms of getting inside possibly your innermost thoughts and worries that you dream about. What you have to do is become lucid and find a mirror to stare at yourself. Look at yourself deeply, what do you see? The author of this article, Rebecca Turner recorded herself saying that she saw herself growing old and her teeth falling out, which meant that she was possibly going through menopause or worried about self-image. Sometimes these lucid dreams can be downright scary. I myself have not tried it, but it is worth trying it.

There is so much information about nightmares and dreams, that I’m going to make a part two about dreams.

While writing this article, I was reminded of the movie Inception, and how they try to get into people’s dreams, so enjoy figuring out how to mess with people’s minds.