Anxiety Dreams


I’ve talked before about a recurring nightmare I’ve had since I was little (short version: I’m in a house I don’t recognize, it’s dark, and every time I flip a light switch, nothing happens. No lights go on. Cue blind panic, running around creepy dark house trying every light, none of them turning on), but I think it’s more accurately an anxiety dream. Did you know there was a difference? I didn’t, until I googled a dream my friend Herbie had (a common “I have a trip I haven’t packed for!” one)┬áto figure out the meaning. Jamal had one the other night, where he never took a required college class and shouldn’t have graduated. We’ve all had some variety of those, right?

Turns out, there’s a whole Wikipedia page about anxiety dreams and how they differ from nightmares; they’re apparently “less disturbing than a nightmares” and “usual themes involve incomplete tasks, embarrassment, falling, or pursuit.” Anxiety dreams can be classified as they’re own distinct category since they occur during REM sleep, and night terrors occur in NREM.

My most recent anxiety dream has been popping up every few weeks for the past year: I’m in Paris, and I can’t get my camera to work. I’m in Paris, on a balcony with a view of the Eiffel Tower, and I look through my camera viewfinder, only to see my lens is shattered. Or I’m in Paris, and my camera won’t expose correctly, and I can’t take a photo that isn’t totally blown out, all white. Last night, just as it has learned to identify my “lights won’t turn on” dream before it happens and call bullshit on the whole thing, my subconscious decided to trick the dream and use the camera on my phone to take a picture. Ha! Take that anxiety dream! Only the dream wasn’t fooled, and even that camera was totally busted and reverse-fish-eyed every shot, so that buildings were distorted and sucked in on themselves in photos. You win this time, dream. (side note: WHAT DOES IT MEAN??)

Do you have any of these? Non-nightmares but totally anxiety producing anyway? I know I’m not alone!

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10 thoughts on “Anxiety Dreams

  1. i do have this kind of dream lately. it’s always in a house, and i’m looking for something that i don’t even know what. i just keep looking. weird.

  2. Here we go…..1. I can’t find my college roster and I’ve missed classes. It’s finals time and I never went to the class. 2. I can’t get home. The streets are all different. 3. I’m 35 years old and told I could never have children. I end up pregnant with twins. WAIT…..that one actually happened. Never mind!

  3. I have them every so often, usually after spending a long time doing the same task. Seems to me that my brain is overtaxed and trying to cope. Or not…

  4. I watched a really great documentary awhile back on Netflix when I was pregnant with Nora about what your brain does at night and what is in your brain like your genetic imprint. I have a couple of reoccurring dreams and the one I had when I was little I would fall out of a tree or fall out of a roller coaster :). According to the documentary its our genetic imprint of learning from previous generations.. like I had a friend who had a dream of being chased by a wolf. So it might be your brain teaching you something?

    Sleep is your brains time to recover and recharge for the next day and studies have shown if you do something right before bed for like 20 minutes and then do it again when you wake up- you will learn how to do it faster.

  5. i was just thinking recently – does anyone have good dreams? i don’t think i do. i am not sure what they would even look like, puppies and rainbows? i guess i have anxiety dreams most of the time based on this, or maybe i just remember those ones. something is always a little off, or i am always trying to do something and can’t quite do it, or find it or get to it. i also have lots of dreams of sneaking into my grandparents old house. and one of the dreams i have the most, is my teeth start to break and crumble. that one just freaks me out! luca has night terrors, not so often as he did when he was eating wheat but once in awhile he wakes up and his whole body is shaking uncontrollably and he’s talking about something, like he’s still dreaming. it can take several minutes to get him calmed down. and even though i know what it is, it still alarms me every time. dreaming is such a strange thing.

  6. Did I ever tell you the story about Cal sleep walking? It’s only happened once but FREAKED ME OUT. We were with some people with whom there was a lot of family tension (hidden) and drama, and my mom thinks he was processing it (my trying to walk on my laptop, ahem…).

    Neel has specific anxiety dreams. I guess I mean, during specific events, not recurring. And I used to have that “you have to go back to high school” recurring dream, as did my dad. And Christine’s comment made me laugh. I had a girlfriend dream once she had $9,000, and she woke up so happy! Only to have her excitement dashed. ;)

  7. during college I frequently had a dream that I had skipped a class so much that I forgot it was even part of my schedule and I have to go to the final with ZERO classes under my belt…THE WOOOORRRRRRSSSSSSTTTTTT

  8. I have had a dream similar – in which I’m in Paris and my memory card doesn’t work! Oh the horror! But I also have recurring dreams in the same house. It’s a house I never recognize and it only exists in my dreams. Every dream something different is going on, but in that house. I like visiting this house in my dreams, exploring it and slowly it becomes familiar, but still, during the dream every time – it is eerie.

  9. I have the “late to a college exam” one way too often, esp for someone who graduated almost 8 years ago. But isn’t waking up SUCH a relief?

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