Nightmares have a different meaning according to different cultures. According to Freud it has something to do with suppressed sexuality. That is no news actually, because Freud links almost everything to sexuality. According to Jung, a nightmare shows the primitive dark unconscious side of the psychological impulses that cause a nightmare.
In middle ages people thought that nightmares could be a prove of deviant and irreligious behavior. Nowadays we look for more psychological meanings of a nightmare and how to handle them. Nightmares can connect to a fear or anxiety that you have during your day. A fear that seems small during the day might be emphasized when you are in a nightmare. Also a personal blockage can lead to a nightmare, things you don’t want to think about or that you hide from yourself in your day to day life, or things you even flee from normally.
Also a traumatic experience can lead to nightmares or recurring post traumatic nightmares. These traumatic events might have taken place in the past and the nightmares remember you of certain facets or feelings from that trauma. It can mean that this big fear only gets outlet in your sleep stage in the form of a nightmare, or it can even be that your mind can process a traumatic event by dreaming and creating nightmares.
In Chinese Medicine nightmares show that some organs can be out of balance. Nightmares can also happen when you are under great stress or pressure in your daily life. Also physical changes can cause nightmares, like adolescence, pregnancy and menopause. The use of some pharmaceutical medicines can also cause nightmares. Normally it is written on the receipt.
How to overcome nightmares?
A good solution might be as simple as doing meditation or relaxation exercises before sleep. Doing a simple breath exercise, breathing deep in and out, putting your hands on your belly can already help you relax.
Another relaxation exercise is to flex your muscles, make them tense for 10 seconds and then relax them after that. Or flex certain muscles starting from the toes to the head, bit by bit flex and tense your body parts.
What can also help is not eat and drink a few hours before going to bed. This way your body has the capacity to relax also during sleep and your organs don’t make trouble during your sleep.
A good ventilated room is also important to prevent nightmares, as heat and sweating during sleep can cause nightmares.
If you have to go to toilet this can also cause dreaming about going to toilet in your sleep. So better go to toilet before you go to bed.
If stress and tension is your main cause or problem, you might do good to just write all your thoughts in a journal before going to bed. This cleanses your brain, and you can relax better. Don’t however go into analysis and overthink it, just write it and let it go. You can think about it the next day or any other day. It’s just meant to clear your head.
Listening to soothing music or special sleep music can also help you calm down before going to sleep.
If you do have a nightmare, you can try to rationalize it, don’t connect it to reality. Everyone sometimes has nightmares, it can mean that your body is a bit out of balance, or that you’re stressing about a certain situation. Nightmares are also ways that your mind deals with certain unconscious issues that you might hide from yourself during day to day life. Important is to stay connected to your good and hopeful side inside yourself. There is always that voice that soothes you and tells you everything is going to be okay. Just breath and relax. You can also rely on some religious or faithful Source that helps you overcome your fears. This might also help during your nightmare, if you find support in religion or spirituality.
It is worthwhile to investigate in the meaning of a recurring nightmare, so you can understand the reason behind it. It might mean you need to pay attention to a certain part of yourself that you are neglecting, or a certain issue you didn’t quite resolve yet. Pay attention to the exact thing that bothered you during your dream, what was the feeling? What was the reason why it happened?
Another way of dealing with nightmares is to learn how to do lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming is to dream conscious knowing that you are dreaming, and having the ability to control your dream and control what happens in your dream. If you know how to lucid dream, you can also ask/create help or slay your fear by changing the story line.