Why you keep having recurring dreams and what it means

For years, dreams of cracked, loose, and falling teeth have haunted my sleep. Some of my loved ones have had recurring dreams of flying, driving away in self-driving cars, and being late for school or work. These are not typical nightmares that usually happen only once. These are some of the most common recurring dreams, tend to be negative and may require some effort to overcome.

Dream researcher Deirdre Barrett says, “Recurrent dreams are likely to be about a very profound life experience or a very specific logical problem, rather than a one-off event. It’s a part of who you are, so it’s something that’s going to repeat itself every time you’re awake.” Lecturer in Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School.

According to Barrett, our dreams don’t usually repeat, so just having the same dream more than once is considered recurring. These symptoms are most common in childhood, but can persist into adulthood, Barrett said. And recurring dreams don’t always occur in close proximity to each other, Barrett said, and can occur multiple times a month or even years apart.

Experts say recurring dreams may be the same each time, or they may just be repeating the same type of scenario or worry.

Dr. Nirit Sofa-Dudek, a clinical psychologist and senior lecturer in the Department of Psychology at Ben-Gurion University, said, “Evaluating the prevalence of recurrent dreams is difficult because it doesn’t happen regularly for most people. It is from.” By email from the Negev, Israel. “And when people are asked about past dreams in their lives, they can be affected by memory distortions, interest in dreams (or lack of them), or other factors.”

Either way, the recurring stuff is worth investigating, says Alex Dimitriu, Ph.D., sleep medicine expert and founder of Silicon Psych, a psychiatric and sleep medicine clinic in Menlo Park, Calif.

“People have this explosive approach to anything that causes them discomfort or fear, and I think dreams are the same in some ways,” said Dimitriou. “As a psychiatrist, I am tempted to say that there is some message I am trying to convey to you, and the answer may be to understand what it is. I think we may be able to finish it.”

Here’s how to find out what’s causing your recurring dreams.

Meaning of recurring dreams

Some recurring dreams have simple messages. If you have recurring dreams of being late for school or work, you are probably just worried that you are not ready for them. However, even though they are common, some don’t have a universal meaning, so you’ll have to do your own research.

“In interpretation, we don’t believe there is a universal symbol, but we believe it’s a personal symbolism that is unique to each individual and a connection to something,” Barrett said. .

According to Barrett and Dimitriou, in addition to being unprepared, common themes that recur in dreams include social embarrassment, feelings of inadequacy compared to others, and things like car accidents and natural disasters. It contains danger.

Barrett says some people’s dreams revolve around test anxiety, even if they haven’t been to school in years. It may reflect a general fear of failure or a feeling of being judged by someone in authority. Dreams of losing or damaging teeth can be associated with losing something in life, feelings of hopelessness and defenselessness, or health concerns.

When faced with a recurring dream, ask yourself what the message is, says Dimitriou. What is your relationship with the objects and people in your dream? What are your fears or belief systems about them? What are the top 5 things in your life that might be causing or related to it? What are you really worried about?

“I don’t like to do informal dream interpretation alone or with a close and trusted person who might have some sort of question that you don’t see. I definitely think it’s a good thing,” Barrett said.

Dimitriou said people with post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety tend to have recurring dreams that are particularly disturbing in nature. PTSD dreams arise from trauma so severe that they recur as nightmares.

“The brain is trying to solve something and put it to sleep,” he added. However, “People with PTSD wake up from sleep because their dreams are so vivid. And that’s a problem because the dreams are never processed. …That’s why it recurs.” It’s an unfinished business.”

Recurring dreams may also indicate biological causes. “People with sleep apnea can drown, suffocate, be in huge waves, gasp for air, be underwater, when they are actually experiencing respiratory arrest due to sleep apnea. , reports dreams of suffocation, etc.,” Dimitriou said.

Environmental triggers can also be triggered, such as car alarms on the street or dripping water from a faucet, and those images can trigger dreams, he added.


Once you have a better idea of ​​what your worries are, writing them down before bed can help reduce recurring negative dreams and stress in general.

“The diary is a very powerful tool, both for the patient and for myself,” said Dimitriou. Meditation may also help.

Once you know what horror lies behind your dreams, Dimitriu recommended handling it in the following ways. 3-column method Used in cognitive-behavioral therapy: What are your automatic thoughts? What are your automatic emotions? Finally, what is a more reality-based alternative thinking?

dream rehearsal therapyAlso known as image rehearsal therapy, this therapy is effective for both recurring dreams and nightmares. This approach requires writing down the narrative elements of the dream in detail and then rewriting it so that it ends positively. Just before falling asleep, repeat the dream by saying aloud, “If I had the same bad dream beginning, I could have a better one with a positive outcome instead.” set intentions

If recurring dreams are causing stress, unhappiness, causing other symptoms, or beginning to impair your ability to function regularly, it’s time to seek professional help, experts say. I’m here.

there may be another reason

Recurring dreams can also be caused by poor sleep hygiene, said Soffa Dudek.

“If people don’t get enough sleep, drink caffeine too late, drink alcohol too late, work too late, stay up too late and get four hours of sleep last night, A lot of nasty things happen at night,” he says. “The basic core and foundation of a healthy dreamy life begins with healthy sleep.”

Dimitriu also recommended limiting distractions that interfere with your time to reflect and process, such as spending time on your phone unnecessarily or constantly filling silence.

With a constantly occupied mind, “somewhere it just needs to be processed,” he says. “So now there is even more pressure to live the life of your dreams.”

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