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What Causes Bad Dreams Every Night

Rujuta Borkar Jul 26, 2020
Bad dreams can leave a person feeling extremely anxious and fearful. In such a scenario, could it be possible that an understanding of what causes bad dreams could help us get rid of them? Let us try and explore this theory.
Bad dreams, more commonly referred to as nightmares, are a common phenomenon, and to say the least, can leave a person anxious, fearful, paranoid, and disturbed. Most of us have had disturbing dreams at sometime or the other, so one can identify with the degree of panic and anxiety that a person experiences during a bad dream.
Depending on the kind of dream that it was though, the degree of the panic attacks will vary. The effect that bad dreams have on an individual are not pleasant either. It can lead to a lot of stress and worry and this can have an adverse effect on a person's overall life.
It is due to this that we need to look into the causes of bad dreams so that we can hope to find a way to curb their occurrence. In the next section, we will look into this aspect in more detail and understand how to go about controlling this recurring phenomenon.

Meaning of Bad Dreams

The phenomenon of bad dreams is simple to understand. When a dream evokes feelings of anxiety, fear, horror, nervousness, and/or paranoia, it is considered to be a bad dream or nightmare. When one brings in the angle of psychology and the aspect of delving into one's mind to understand this phenomenon, that is when things become more interesting.
It is said that bad dreams signify certain aspects about a person's life that are impossible to decipher at the plain surface. The meaning and significance of bad dreams goes way deep and is said to be the evidence of certain fears, trepidations, and traumas that a person experiences―which make way through these nightmares.

Why Do We Have Bad Dreams

So we have bad dreams. But why? One interesting theory was put forth by Sigmund Freud. Freud suggested that a person's hidden fears, anxieties, and trepidations find an outlet through bad dreams. What we fear, we keep playing in our heads over and over again, which is how the subconscious mind gets a message and thus produces bad dreams.


The next time you have a recurring bad dream, think back to the events of the day. Was there something disturbing and traumatic that happened? It has been proven that a traumatic experience(s) can lead to nightmares in a person. Trauma that is experienced due to death, accident, sexual assault, and the like can be one of the main causes of bad dreams.


Have you ever had a high fever and then tried to sleep through it, only to be thrown into this weird in-and-out-of-conscious-and-unconscious states of mind? The occurrence of sickness and illness can lead to bad dreams. Add to that the effect of sleep-inducing drugs and there is a chance that the occurrence of bad dreams will increase furthermore.

Negative Thinking

It has been seen that a person who constantly swirls around negative thoughts in his mind is more prone to having bad dreams. This is because you are introducing those bad thoughts to your subconscious and conscious states of minds, thus forcing it to process the information and then produce dreams that stress on these thoughts. The result?―Bad dreams.

Psychological Conditions

It has been seen that there are certain psychological conditions that can increase a person's chances of experiencing bad dreams. These include high levels of stress and tension, depression, and a disturbed state of mind in a person.
The causes of bad dreams could be several, as we have seen. It helps to know what these are, because it lets us deal with the unpleasant emotions. But, along with understanding what the causes of bad dreams are, we need to also know how to stop bad dreams.
Why? So that it does not lead to a more severe and destructive outcome like a nervous breakdown or depression. When one knows what is causing the bad dreams and how to stop them, it becomes easier to take the necessary steps for the purpose of curbing them and thereof having a night of pleasant dreams.
Disclaimer - This content is for informative purposes only and does not in any way attempt to replace the advice offered by an expert on the subject.