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Common Nightmares and Their Meanings

Updated on June 30, 2013
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As unpleasant as they may be, nightmares are an important part of dreaming. They are the manifestation of stress, anxiety, and fears of which we may or may not be conscious. Like most dreams, however, nightmares are typically not to be taken literally and may require interpretation. The many images and themes within a nightmare should never be taken at face value. Instead, a nightmare signifies that it is time to decipher exactly what your subconscious is trying to tell you.

Have you ever been terrified from a nightmare?

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Nightmares a common to everyone. They are a necessary part of dreaming and serve to get the dreamer's attention. Our nightmares often leave a lasting impression on us. They can be quite vivid, disturbing and can sometimes linger for days or even years before they completely dissipate from our minds. In fact, nightmares made such an impression in ancient times that they were thought to be caused by evil spirits sent to haunt and suffocate people while they slept. Today we know, however, that nightmares are simply manifestations of our own feelings.

Problems in our waking life often revisit in our dreams. Nightmares are no different. Recurrent nightmares in particular may signify a major problem in your waking life that needs to be looked into. Nightmares may arise from inner conflicts, deep frustrations, or the repression of some other deep emotion. They may also be a form of self-punishment. Whatever the reason, understanding some common nightmare themes may help you to finally understand your nightmares and ultimately what your subconscious is trying to tell you.

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Nightmare Type
What It May Signify
What Action Should You Take?
Trapped or Lost
Nightmares in which you feel trapped or lost are often pretty direct. Feelling lost or trapped in a dream often means that you are concerned about being lost or trapped in a situation in your waking life. Ask yourself if you are being pressured into something. Do you feel lost in the shuffle regrarding a certain event in your life? Do you feel a need to escape or as if you've run out of options?
This type of nightmare is a warning and means it may be time to confront these feelings before it is too late.
Falling or Drowning
Anxious feelings of being overwhelmed or in over your head can often result in this kind of nightmare. How you react in this type of nightmare may mirror how you react regarding the represented situation in your waking life.
Lucid dreaming can be useful for this nightmare type, particularly if this is a recurring nightmare. Realizing that this is a dream gives you some manner of control.
Machine Malfunctions
This type of dream often involves a endlessly ringing telephone or a computer whose hard drive has crashed. It may signify that you are failing to reach someone emotionally.
If this nightmare type continues to reoccur, it may be time to examine your relationships and identify any ares that may need to be addressed or worked on.
Naked or Inappropriately Dressed
Dreams of ths nature can be a good measurement of one's self-esteem. The context of the dream is very important. Are you ashamed of you nakedness or proud? Are those around laughing? Do they even notice you? Dreams of being naked may indicated a fear of being vulnerable, you have nothing to hide or that it's time to come clean.
The details of this kind of nightmare are very important. This will give major clues into the true meaning of the dream. Analyze those details. Keep a journal by your bed so that you can jot down everything you remember as soon as you wake. The answer to the meaning is in the details.

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