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Author Topic: Can anxiety cause more frequent bad dreams?  (Read 112 times)

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Offline ObiLaws

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Can anxiety cause more frequent bad dreams?
« on: June 17, 2014, 01:56:28 PM »
Hello all. This is just a musing that popped into my head this morning after a couple of distressing dreams. Over the past few weeks, I've been having a lot more distressing dreams. Not nightmares so much as just dreams that make me feel very upset when they're happening. I've been suffering from anxiety for a lot longer than these dreams have been happening but that's only because when the anxiety first started I barely slept and so never really got into the stage of sleep that I could dream in. Once I started sleeping a little better and having dreams again, that's when they started up.

This has led me to wonder, does anxiety affect our dreams? I've read many posts about dreams here on Anxiety Zone and I think that the idea that since anxiety consumes our life so wholly during the day it's inevitable it will enter our subconscious mind at night and intrude on our dreams is very possible. I've definitely noticed that my distressing dreams are almost always rooted in my fears, even (and sometimes especially) subconscious ones. I would occasionally have these dreams before my anxiety developed but they've definitely increased in frequency since it started. So I wonder if the changes in the brain that are caused by anxiety also affect the subconscious brain and its dreaming ability. What do you guys think?

Cody
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Online crikee57

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Re: Can anxiety cause more frequent bad dreams?
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2014, 02:09:34 PM »
I absolutely believe that anxiety can cause distressing dreams.  When we sleep our brain stays active.  It is when we process and convert short term to long term memories etc.  This alone means that it would make sense that our minds would also process our fears and our stresses in our sleep.  Distressing dreams and nightmares have been a part of my life for a long time just like anxiety.  Processing and confronting the things that bother us and stress us out can also increase the dreams.  Sometimes our minds fight the process of trying to delve into issues we are afraid to address.  Unfortunately our anxieties are not confined to our waking hours.
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Offline kcg13

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Re: Can anxiety cause more frequent bad dreams?
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2014, 11:28:43 PM »
Yes.  I feel like it affects mine especially if I am thinking negative, distressing thoughts before I go to bed - and I mean that these thoughts are ruminating.  When it is like that, I tend to have those kinds of dreams.
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Offline ObiLaws

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Re: Can anxiety cause more frequent bad dreams?
« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2014, 03:09:53 PM »
I noticed that I tend to dwell on the dreams more as well, they affect my state of mind for a few hours after I get up and make me feel afraid of whatever was in them and that they may have "meant" something and will cause something to happen even though they're just dreams. Which is standard illogical anxiety/OCD thinking.
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Offline LO87

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Re: Can anxiety cause more frequent bad dreams?
« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2014, 03:18:45 PM »
I believe they can too, but for me it's different. I wake up from normal dreams feeling distressed or anxious because I feel like I'm still trapped in the dream when I want to be awake. Like I can't make the transition between sleeping and waking fast enough. Yet my dreams are always normal and not bad or unpleasant. In fact I've never had a dream as myself where I've had anxiety like I do in reality. I'm always my old, normal self! It's nice. Then I wake up lol
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