How bad dreams reflect our daily frustrations

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Many of us have had recurring and disturbing nightmares that are difficult to comprehend.

Now, research has discovered these dreams are a reflection of our daily struggles.

In particular, feeling a of lack independence, incompetence or being misunderstood can trigger nightmares, scientists claim.

These feelings suggest that a person’s ‘basic psychological needs’ are not being met, and nightmares occur when we haven’t processed these emotions properly.

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Many of us have had recurring and disturbing nightmares that are difficult to comprehend. Now, research from Cardiff University has discovered these dreams are a reflection of our daily struggles (stock image)

Many of us have had recurring and disturbing nightmares that are difficult to comprehend. Now, research from Cardiff University has discovered these dreams are a reflection of our daily struggles (stock image)

THE STUDY 

Researchers conducted two studies to explore whether experiences related to psychological needs in waking life are related to the deeper level of processing that dreams provide.

In the first, 200 people were asked to reflect on their most common recurring dream.

The second study analysed the entries that 110 people made over a period of three days in ‘dream diaries’.  

The results from both show that frustrations and emotions associated with specific psychological needs influence the themes that will occur in people’s dreams.

Participants whose so-called psychological needs were not met reported having more nightmares.

A number of recurring themes seem to crop up during disturbing dreams.

These may include being trapped, chased or attacked, or failing at an important task.

Previous research has identified what some of these dreams might mean.  

For instance, people who are frustrated with their daily lives tend to have recurring dreams in which they were falling, failing or being attacked. 

Those who feel under pressure in real life are more likely to experience a dream in which they are unprepared for something important like an exam.

Now, researchers from Cardiff University have conducted two studies to explore whether experiences related to psychological needs in waking life are related to the deeper level of processing that dreams provide.

In the first, 200 people were asked to reflect on their most common recurring dream.

The second study analysed the entries that 110 people made over a period of three days in ‘dream diaries’.  

The results from both show that frustrations and emotions associated with specific psychological needs influence the themes that will occur in people’s dreams.

Participants whose so-called psychological needs were not met reported having more nightmares.

A number of recurring themes seem to crop up during disturbing dreams.

These may include being trapped, chased or attacked, or failing at an important task.

Falling from a height

A British psychologist found that people who are frustrated with their daily lives tend to have recurring dreams in which they were falling, failing or being attacked (stock image)

A British psychologist found that people who are frustrated with their daily lives tend to have recurring dreams in which they were falling, failing or being attacked (stock image)

A British psychologist found that people who are frustrated with their daily lives tend to have recurring dreams in which they were falling, failing or being attacked (stock image)

In their latest study on nightmares, Cardiff University found a recurring dream about falling from a height could mean someone feels frustrated in their daily lives.

‘We found that people whose recurring dreams were felt to have more negative emotions in them also felt more incompetent, isolated, or pressured by others in their daily life,’ Dr Netta Weinstein told MailOnline.

‘So they might have been feeling lonely, like they have been failing at things they cared about, or pressured by deadlines.’

Dr Weinstein told MailOnline that finding help for challenges in life could help to alleviate recurring dreams.

‘From what this study indicates, findings ways to resolve some of the difficulties in relationships and perhaps in terms of academic or professional challenges might help,’ she said.

The results from her studies studies showed that frustrations and emotions linked with specific psychological needs influence people’s dreams.

‘Waking-life psychological need experiences are indeed reflected in our dreams,’ Dr Weinstein said. 

Failing

Dr Weinstein said that recurring dreams in which people experience failure were also common among those who frequently felt frustrated. Those who feel under pressure are more likely to dream about being unprepared for something important like an exam (stock image)

Dr Weinstein said that recurring dreams in which people experience failure were also common among those who frequently felt frustrated. Those who feel under pressure are more likely to dream about being unprepared for something important like an exam (stock image)

Dr Weinstein said that recurring dreams in which people experience failure were also common among those who frequently felt frustrated. Those who feel under pressure are more likely to dream about being unprepared for something important like an exam (stock image)

Dr Weinstein said that recurring dreams in which people experience failure were also common among those who frequently felt frustrated.

Research has previously shown that those who feel under pressure in real life are more likely to experience a dream in which they are unprepared for something important like an exam or a meeting.

DREAMS AND THEIR EMOTIONAL LINKS 

Dream experts have previously claimed that nightmares in which people are being chased or forget how to drive reveal that person feels out of control of their life.

Those who feel trapped in their dreams likely feel trapped in real life, New Zealand dream experts Margaret Bowater and Dr Rosie Gibson told MailOnline in September.

They said that those who feel under pressure in real life are more likely to experience a dream in which they are unprepared for something important like an exam.

In the new dream study, Dr Weinstein found that people who experience daily frustrations are more likely to describe their dreams negatively.

People who felt more incompetent, isolated, or pressured by others in their daily life were more likely to have dreams in which they were falling, failing or being attacked.

‘I used to be a teacher, so my typical stress dream was about the whole classroom getting out of control. I would be feeling powerless or helpless to manage a situation,’ Margaret Bowater, president of the Dream Network Aotearoa New Zealand, told Stuff earlier this year.

She said the dream is a metaphor for falling short, possibly falling out of favour, or maybe not living up to the expectations of yourself or others.

Feeling trapped 

Those who feel trapped in their dreams likely feel trapped in real life, New Zealand dream experts Ms Bowater and Dr Rose Gibson told Stuff in September (stock image)

Those who feel trapped in their dreams likely feel trapped in real life, New Zealand dream experts Ms Bowater and Dr Rose Gibson told Stuff in September (stock image)

Those who feel trapped in their dreams likely feel trapped in real life, New Zealand dream experts Ms Bowater and Dr Rose Gibson told Stuff in September (stock image)

Those who feel trapped in their dreams likely feel trapped in real life, New Zealand dream experts Ms Bowater and Dr Rose Gibson told Stuff in September.

Ms Bowater said that this kind of dream is a ‘conceptual’ one – whereby the dreamer feels trapped or lost in real life.

‘A dream is trying to show, or repeat, something back to you,’ she said.

‘It’s usually using concrete imagery for something that is not necessarily a concrete thing to say.’ 

Being chased or attacked

Dr Weinstein said frequently being attacked in your dreams may show you are frustrated in your day to day activities. When you create a dream of being chased, you are encountering some frustration or challenge to your pursuit of a particular fulfilment in your waking life

Dr Weinstein said frequently being attacked in your dreams may show you are frustrated in your day to day activities. When you create a dream of being chased, you are encountering some frustration or challenge to your pursuit of a particular fulfilment in your waking life

Dr Weinstein said frequently being attacked in your dreams may show you are frustrated in your day to day activities. When you create a dream of being chased, you are encountering some frustration or challenge to your pursuit of a particular fulfilment in your waking life

Dr Weinstein said frequently being attacked in your dreams may show you are frustrated in your day to day activities.

According to UK dream expert Ian Wallace, being chased or attacked is the most common dream from all around the world, regardless of country, creed or culture.

When you create a dream of being chased, you are encountering some frustration or challenge to your pursuit of a particular fulfilment in your waking life, he has previously told MailOnline.

Being chased by an animal indicates there is an instinctive impulse that you are finding hard to contain in waking life. 

When a monster is pursuing you, it reflects that you have a raw and powerful talent but are finding it challenging to evolve and refine it. 

If a man, woman or a gang is chasing you, then you have the opportunity to assert a particular talent but may be running away from some of the responsibilities involved in displaying your abilities.

Dreams with negative emotions 

The recurring dreams may show that someone is going through daily distressing experiences that they still need to process, the researcher, from Cardiff University, said (stock image)

The recurring dreams may show that someone is going through daily distressing experiences that they still need to process, the researcher, from Cardiff University, said (stock image)

The recurring dreams may show that someone is going through daily distressing experiences that they still need to process, the researcher, from Cardiff University, said (stock image)

In Dr Weinstein’s new study, she found that people who are frustrated with their lives have dreams with more negative themes that made them frightened, angry or sad.

When asked to interpret their own dreams, they tended to do so using more negative words.

Participants whose psychological needs were met were more likely to describe their dreams positively. 

‘Negative dream emotions may directly result from distressing dream events, and might represent the psyche’s attempt to process and make sense of particularly psychologically challenging waking experiences,’ Dr Weinstein said.





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