Nightmares can tell us about unresolved issues in our lives

I’m not sure what time the clock pointed to, but I remember it was in the middle of the night.

One of my roommates and I came home late from a party, and we were talking about how lame the party was. The other roommates seemed to be sleeping, so we went to my room and tried to talk as quietly as possible. We talked for about a half hour, and both of us seemed ready to call it a night.

When my roommate was about to leave the room, I felt somebody pulling my right arm quite strongly, and I could clearly see my arm was unintentionally being lifted. One thing I noticed from the moment was my roommate was right in front of me, and there was no one other than me and my roommate in the room. I began to panic and became terrified by the strangest phenomenon.

At that same moment, my roommate saw my horrified expression and tried to help me through this paranormal activity, forgetting that she herself should have been freaked out, too. I tried to scream, but no words came out. I was too preoccupied with forcing my arm to move to let focus on anything else. The invisible entity was starting to pull me away.

Just as my roommate was pulling me back as hard as she could, I woke up.

Thank God, it was just a dream.

But the scariest part in wake of the disturbing dream was my right arm was still lifted on in the air, even after I woke up from the nightmare. I rolled over, grabbed my phone and checked the time. It was 5:45 a.m. That was the weirdest dream I have ever had.

According to sleep psychologist, Michelle Drerup, dreaming nightmares may be a notification that our brains send us as a way for our brains to indicate some issues and emotions that need attention in our lives. She says that depression and anxiety often are accompanied by nightmares, with people who are depressed or anxious are more likely to have stressful, disturbing or frightening dreams, sometimes in the form of recurring dreams.

Rosalind Cartwright, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Psychology of Rush University, also says in her book, “Crisis Dreaming,” “Nightmares are a cry for resolution for finding a way to incorporate the terrible experience into our lives. Occasional nightmares are normal, but not nightly, and not over and over again.”

In other words, having nightmares means it is a phase of recovery where the brain is integrating your feelings in order to get away from the negative emotions, like the sense of vulnerability and mortality.

Interestingly, many dream therapists and researchers have proposed that nightmares can serve as a way of emotional release because our brains take the abstract memories and make them into “dreams” while we are sleeping. Therefore, we don’t necessarily need to worry about falling back asleep again after waking up from bad dreams if you are aware of the fact that the dream was just that: a dream.

Taehui Park

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