I’ve pretty much been having the same nightmares for as long as I can remember. I’m either trapped in the dark, in the damp tower from “Edward Scissorhands” (because ’90s kid), frantically swimming away from a crazed shark or alligator (neither of which catch me), or falling … and falling … and falling.
As it turns out, only one of these scenarios isn’t considered a normal (albeit terrifying) nightmare. Amerisleep, a high-tech mattress company, recently conducted a survey of more than 2,000 men and women to find out what people typically dream about, and the top two responses were falling and being chased (more than 63 percent of respondents had at least one of these recurring dreams throughout their life).
And if you thought the “Scissorhands” nightmare was strange, compare it to some of the responses from the survey: 34 percent of respondents have dreamed about their teeth falling out, and nearly 5 percent have woken up in the middle of the night because they dreamed they had gone bald. Apparently, appearances are often at the top of one’s mind before dozing off (or maybe these dreams are stress-induced).
In fact, stress plays a critical role in our sleep pattern, which makes sense. As a writer, my thoughts are often plagued by missed deadlines (which, according to the survey, happens to the majority of journalists and writers). For artists and entertainers, nightmares about being naked at work are frequent. And more than a dozen professions dream about being late to the office. It’s pretty clear that work stress causes us to dream about scenarios that can actually happen.
There is one particular nightmare that hasn’t been mentioned yet, though, and it’s probably plagued each of us at least once: being cheated on. According to the survey, more than half of married women and nearly 40 percent of married men have dreamed about infidelity. Nearly the same percentage of married men and women have also dreamed about being abandoned by their significant other. Not exactly the best thing to wake up to.
On a lighter note, the majority of men surveyed said they most commonly had nightmares about a technology malfunction, while women were often visited by a deceased friend or family member. I’m not entirely sure, but I think I’d rather lose my iPhone than have a zombified great-grandmother poke around my head while I snooze. But who knows.
In any case, our dreams (and nightmares) say a lot about the current status of our relationships, careers, and cult-classic film libraries. Considering we spend an average of two hours a night dreaming, something is bound to spook us once or twice.
Luckily, these dreams may indicate something that needs to change in our life. Perhaps work is becoming unmanageable, or we don’t enjoy our career as much as we once did. A dream about infidelity may mean we’re feeling cheated out of time with our spouse or partner. And when we’re falling? It may mean that something in our life isn’t going in the right direction.
So, there it is. These nightmares may actually be trying to send our subconscious a little message about making some much-needed adjustments in the real world. It’s up to us to decode and decipher each one. To find out where your bad dreams rank among the nightmares that afflict us the most, check out the full study.
Photos courtesy of Amerisleep and Michael Day