Tempur UK shares some insights into common stress dreams and tips to help you get back into a good sleep routine after the school holidays
For many, September signals the return to the routine of work, university or school after a long summer break and invariably, long, late summer nights.
Whether it’s prepping the kids for a new school year, frantically skimming through the summer reading list with a week to go, or suffering the inevitable anxieties about the bulging inbox at work, getting back into the swing of things must begin with ensuring you get your sleep back on track.
Why do we dream?
The truthful answer is that experts are still not entirely sure why we dream, but they do know that dreams are individual to each person and can hold a multitude of meanings.
A widely held theory is that dreams help us store important memories and things we’ve learned, whilst ridding the mind of unimportant experiences or knowledge. Dreams can also help us process thoughts and feelings.
Other experts believe dreams have no real purpose at all and they are simply a result of the mind replaying scenarios that we’re familiar with or that have already happened.
When does dreaming occur?
The sleep cycle takes place in phases, with our most vivid and intense dreams taking place during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, when the brain is most active. REM sleep tends to involve more bodily movement, a faster pulse and quicker breathing. It’s also possible to dream during NREM sleep (non-rapid eye movement sleep).
It’s very common to have the same dream over and over, either over a short period or sometimes across a lifetime. A recurring dream usually means there is something in your life that you’ve not acknowledged properly or tried to ignore and is therefore causing you to worry or stress. It’s essentially a dream that repeats itself because you’ve not corrected the problem.
Many of us will experience stress dreams ahead of the return to our day-to-day. Here, are some of the most common and what they mean:
Teeth falling out
Teeth falling out is one of the nation’s most common dreams and there are several interpretations as to what it means, including:
- Changes to our normal routine
- Fear of a certain situation
- Our emotional experiences in real-life being challenged or interfered with
Naked in public
Appearing naked in public at work or meeting up with friends in the nude is an embarrassing but nonetheless common recurring dream. Some theories include:
- Nakedness is often linked to shamefulness or humiliation. Being naked in public is often linked to real-life situations where we’ve felt uncomfortable or embarrassed
- It’s thought naked dreams represent our insecure, vulnerable side, tapping into our insecurities and anxiety around letting your guard down
More of a nightmare than a dream, many of us can relate to the sensation and unpleasant feeling of being chased. But what does it mean?
- It could signify us running away from something we’re afraid of or scared to face in our real lives
- It could mean avoiding confrontation, a personal or problematic situation
- The ‘chaser’ can also represent a form of anxiety in our own personality
Falling and flying
Another frequent but scary dream is of falling, usually from a great height. Experts believe this means:
- Falling can symbolise feeling out of control in our relationships, work or life
- Falling dreams can occur when we think our goals are unattainable, showing a lack of self-assurance or self-belief
Not only are our dreams likely to be disturbed at the end of the holidays, but the quality of our sleep inevitably suffers too.
Tempur MD, Tobin James, says: “Some parents may be longing for September as a time when a sense of normalcy is restored, but the return to a normal sleep routine can be tricky to manage if it’s been interrupted by a long summer break.
“We all know the benefits of a good night’s sleep to ensure we’re well-rested, can concentrate better and perform at our best. As such, we’ve provided the following simple tips to ensure both parents and offspring have the best chances of achieving restorative rest before the new academic year kicks in.”
A guide to ensuring quality sleep
One of the simplest ways to ensure quality sleep is to get back into a solid bedtime routine as soon as possible; going to bed and rising at the same time each day. The occasional late night or weekend lie-in isn’t a major cause for concern but having a very varied sleep pattern can disrupt the body’s internal clock, leading to poorer sleep quality overall.
Aim to get at least eight hours sleep every night. If you’re struggling to sleep, try some light exercise in the day or evening to make yourself feel naturally tired, avoid caffeine and alcohol, invest in a mattress and pillows that offer the right support for you, and ensure your bedroom is dark and cool enough to induce sleep.
If you’re waking up frequently in the night, avoid the temptation to reach for your phone or switch on the TV as the blue light emitted can make you feel more awake. Try reading quietly for 15 minutes with a warm drink instead. If sleep problems persist, there could be an underlying health problem so it’s important to consult your GP.