Studies have shown that everyone has nightmares for different reasons.
More than half of 1,000 employed US workers said they had experienced a work-related nightmare in a recent study, which researchers found troubling due to the implications a nightmare can do to the psyche. What triggers a nightmare can be anything from having a late-night snack to side effects of certain types of medications, according to WebMD.
Nightmares can even be triggered by the way you sleep. Like sleeping on your left side tends to mean more nightmares compared to those who sleep on their right. Back sleepers, too, can produce nightmares.
But have you ever wondered if your frequent nightmares of being chased, feeling lost, or even death, are just you? According to new research, you’re not alone.
A breakdown on nightmares
Research commissioned by Amerisleep recently surveyed 2,000 Americans to put together a list of the most common nightmares that plague sleepers, finding that the sensation of falling is the most common nightmare among participants. Sixty-five percent of respondents said feeling like they were falling in a dream was the most frequent nightmare they’ve had, followed by being chased (63%), death (55%), feeling lost (54%), and feeling trapped (52%).
Other common nightmares included missing an important event, a loved one dying, or even encountering ghosts, aliens, or paranormal entities, according to the study.
Why we have nightmares
If any of these nightmares are frequent occurrences, past research has found that our realities are what influence our thinking in slumber. When we’re faced with challenges, especially at work or relationships, it often can sneak its way into our sleep. Specific dreams such as falling, being attacked, or failing were linked with being unsettled with real-life events, according to researchers from the University of Cardiff.
“Waking-life psychological need experiences are indeed reflected in our dreams,” said the University of Cardiff researcher and lead author Netta Weinstein. “Researchers and theorists have argued that recurring dreams challenge people to process the most pressing problems in their lives, and these may be thought to result from their failure to adapt to challenging experiences. As such, dream content may be more affected by enduring need-based experiences.”
For more than a quarter of respondents, infidelity and a significant other leaving them were nightmares that plagued them — and it’s most common for couples that are married. Nearly 50% of female respondents who were married said they had nightmares about abandonment and infidelity. Similarly, married men were most likely to have similar dreams, according to researchers.
A similar pattern was seen for men and women currently involved in relationships, however, nightmares of being cheated on or left by a significant other were nearly never seen for men and women currently engaged. Both sexes reported staggeringly low percentages for such dream occurrences.
Men who were single dreamed twice as much as single women about being left or cheated on, according to the findings.
Seventeen percent of all respondents said they usually have nightmares related to their job or profession.
Nightmares by profession
Depending on what you do for your living, it could be influencing your nightmares.
For broadcasters and journalists, they were often having nightmares about missing a deadline. People working in construction or education frequently dreamt of being late to work, while those working in legal or mining fields had nightmares about coming into work unprepared.
Respondents who worked in utilities said they had nightmares about being publicly humiliated in front of co-workers and telecommunications types had night sweats over the possibility of being fired.