Anxiety and Bad Dreams

June 16, 2021 TJ DeSalvo

Yesterday, I woke up in the middle of the night with bad dreams. The dreams were such that I was unable to fall asleep for the rest of the night (it was 4:00 A.M. when I initially woke up) and spent much of the rest of the day in a negative state of mind. Because this tends to happen frequently, I want to take the time to discuss it in a bit more detail.

My Bad Dream Patterns

I don’t know if any of this will apply to anyone else, but I can only speak to my own experiences with bad dreams. My bad dreams don’t tend to be directly related to anything specifically that made me anxious during the day, which is what I assume is the standard picture of how these dreams occur.

That being said, there does seem to be a pattern of when they occur. Usually, these bad dreams happen after periods of intense stress that occur shortly before I fall asleep. It is almost as though the mind transfers that intense stress into bad dreams when I fall asleep.

But despite that, as I said, those dreams don’t tend to have any relationship with what may have been stressing me out immediately beforehand. In fact, the content of the dream is totally random and unpredictable, which serves to make them all the more unsettling when they do occur.

How Bad Dreams Linger

The worst thing about these bad dreams is the fact that they tend to linger throughout the day. In my mind, I understand they’re just dreams, and therefore not real – despite that, it doesn’t seem to make a difference. I still go through the entire day feeling lethargic, even afraid to face the future – I still want to withdraw and spend the day alone in the dark, and sometimes I do.

How to Counteract Bad Dreams

The biggest question, then, is how to counteract the negative effects of having a bad dream, so you don’t feel crippled throughout the day.

Like I said before, although I don’t tend to have dreams with predictable content, the periods in which I have these bad dreams do tend to be predictable – nights in which I experience sudden, intense bursts of anxiety directly before I go to sleep.

Perhaps I can train myself to better recognize these periods and the fact that I’ll probably have some kind of bad dream because of them. When and if I have a bad dream, then I won’t feel quite so taken aback. Perhaps I can also train myself to better convince myself that nothing in my dreams is real, and nothing that happens in my dreams has any connection with my life or anything that may happen to me the next day. I don’t want to feel paralyzed because of a bad dream, and yet it keeps happening because I feel that connection exists. If I can keep telling myself that it doesn't, perhaps this will help.

APA Reference
DeSalvo, T. (2021, June 16). Anxiety and Bad Dreams, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 14 from

Author: TJ DeSalvo

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