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Teeth falling out dreams and other common nightmares are often discussed as many people share these odd nightly terrors. Understanding the meaning of these strange dreams and, more importantly, how to avoid them should help you get a much more restful night's sleep.
If any concern has the potential to keep you up at night, worrying about the meaning of dreams is one of them. Dreams can seem like an odd message from your subconscious but when it comes to the meaning of nightmares—it's a whole different ballgame.
Leading dream expert and bestselling author, Theresa Cheung (opens in new tab), has worked with bed retailer, Happy Beds (opens in new tab), to reveal four of the most common nightmares and the reasons behind why we have them.
“Every single dream is unique and unusual," says Theresa. "There is no such thing as a ‘usual’ nightmare, even ones with commonly reported nightmare themes,” she explains.
Theresa continues, “These dreams mean that there are feelings or situations in your current waking life which you are having difficulty fully processing. You should not fear nightmares. Think of nightmares as a form of tough love.”
According to the dream expert, the meanings behind your scary dreams are generally a lot less dramatic than you may think. “Your dreaming mind is using shocking images because it knows you are more likely to recall them and ponder their meaning than everyday dreams.”
This means that even your more lucid dreams are actually a potential message from your subconscious—but what message exactly are we supposed to be receiving?
Nightmares—common examples and their meanings
Teeth falling out dream
Does your sleep anxiety get triggered by the mere thought of your teeth falling out? Well, according to Theresa, it might be to do with something totally different.
"There could be more than one reason that you’re having nightmares about your teeth falling out. It could mean that you’re concerned about aging or your appearance, or even that you have unexpressed anger inside."
Have you ever been woken up by a nightmare in which a murder has occurred? Bolt upright, in a cold sweat, terrified, wondering how to get back to sleep? According to Theresa, this may have something to do with change.
"A dream that involves a murder of some description can mean an unexpected change is being forced onto you," she says.
We all know the ravages of stress and emotional unrest but seemingly, it's one of the biggest triggers to your sleep cycle too.
"Dreams about drowning are very common and can be disturbing, however, they’re usually a sign that you’re feeling emotionally overwhelmed.
A change is as good as a holiday, eh? Maybe. Or, perhaps, big changes are causing sleep problems like nightmares about drowning.
"If you have a dream that involves the apocalypse it can be a sign that your subconscious feels that everything is shifting in your life and it’s time for a fresh start."
Nightmares—how to avoid them
Happy Beds also reached out to Katherine Hall, a psychologist in sleep from Somnus Therapy, about how to sleep better.
The psychologist offered five invaluable tips to help you stave off those pesky night terrors and get a better night's sleep too.
Consistency is key
Shoutout to those of you trying your level best to keep your bedtime routine! You're doing the right thing.
Katherine says, "You should keep your bedtime and wake time as consistent as possible. Consistency is likely to result in more restful and stable sleep, preventing the likelihood of a nightmare-inducing REM rebound from sleep deprivation."
Daily relaxation practice
Yogis proselytize about the best bedtime yoga practices, like yoga nidra and others interested in mindfulness have probably suggested the best sleep-guided meditations in the business. But have you heard of PMR?
"PMR is a form of mindfulness that guides you through tensing each muscle group then relaxing them," explains Katherine, "to promote a sense of complete body and mind relaxation."
"Relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) can be incredibly useful in helping you to get to sleep and reducing the stress around not being able to sleep."
Perhaps it's time to take pen to paper, to hash out some of your deeper feelings
"Expressive writing has been shown to enable the writer to better regulate their emotions, as well as helping the writer break free from the endless mental cycling of brooding or rumination," says Katherine.
"Acknowledging your emotions and writing them down reduces the need for your mind to constantly fight and be in battle with any negative and stressful thoughts."
Unfortunately, for those who like a tipple, the fact is that booze is bad for us—especially our sleep.
Katherine explains, "Alcohol is an REM sleep blocker and causes an overall reduction in REM sleep—also known as dream sleep. When the alcohol starts to wear off it’s not uncommon to experience really vivid dreams or nightmares."
Luckily for the sober and sober curious out there, there are plenty of options out there worth trying or you could go the whole hog and switch out your glass of Cab Sav for a bedtime tea?
If the idea of totally dropping booze doesn't suit you at this time, perhaps practicing mindful drinking is a better option for you? As well as that, there are plenty of low alcohol wines that could help you enjoy a glass or two without quite as negative an impact on your sleep.
If you've tried all of the above in an effort to improve your sleep and sleep hygiene then maybe it's time to seek out some medical help.
Katherine says, "When nightmares become a frequent occurrence and recurring, speaking with a professional may be the best option to help discover and treat the underlying issue."
Aoife is Junior News Editor at woman&home.
She's an Irish journalist and writer with a background in creative writing, comedy, and TV production.
Formerly Aoife was a contributing writer at Bustle and her words can be found in the Metro, Huffpost, Delicious, Imperica, EVOKE and her poetry features in the Queer Life, Queer Love anthology.
Outside of work you might bump into her at a garden center, charity shop, yoga studio, lifting heavy weights, or (most likely) supping/eating some sort of delicious drink/meal.
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