That nightmare you had may be the key to figuring out what is stressing you at work

Nightmares are rough. They are scary, disturbing and usually leave us with lots of questions about ourselves. They also can lead to major sleep deprivation.

For people that suffer from true recurring nightmares, they may try to avoid sleep in order to not have a nightmare which can take a major toll on both their mental and physical health. But it turns out, nightmares may have one perk. According to research, they can actually help you manage your stress better during the waking hours.

According to the study, nightmares were “positively associated with coping bolsters the supposition that nightmares may help to alleviate stress.” Tore Nielsen, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Montreal and director of the Dream and Nightmare Laboratory, told TIME that working through these dramatic dreams, often with the help of a therapist, can help a person identify what is the cause of their stress. “Dream analysis seems to be a legitimate way to gain personal insights into our emotions and fears,” he says.

Confronting your fear

The key is figuring out what is the scary or disturbing part of the dream and then exposing it in therapy or maybe talking about it with a friend in a safe setting. Then you can learn how to control your fear or anxiety around it. Using a dream journal to record these scary scenarios when they are fresh in your mind is also useful.

Here are some common nightmares that may indicate you are stressed according to


The classic and terrifying falling dream is common for many of us.

What it means: This means a situation may be worsening over time like your job not getting better or a relationship heading toward an end.

2. Being chased

You don’t even need to know what is chasing you for this to be super scary.

What it means: You are avoiding something big in your life whether it is realizing your job situation is bad or something else.

3. Being late for a meeting or something important

Somehow I still can never show up for my college finals on time even though I graduated years ago.

What it means: You are overwhelmed by something. 

4. A large tidal wave

This one is a little different but quite scary.

What it means: Again, this indicates you are overwhelmed by something.

5. Your teeth falling out

It sounds weird but a lot of people dream about this.

What it means: Teeth symbolize power so this means you are facing something you think you cannot get through or rather “bite” through.