“He wakes to dream
and dreams himself
into those inner rooms
one cannot enter waking…”
Al Purdy, Great Flowers Bar the Roads, Beyond Remembering
In the most comprehensive study of bad dreams to date, Quebec researchers found men were more likely to have nightmares about catastrophes such as flooding and earthquakes or being chased by swarms of insects. Women have terrifying dreams about social conflicts and relationships, fearing heartbreak or lost friendships, rather than physical harm.
Geneviève Robert, a psychologist at the Université de Montréal, said that men’s nightmares were more likely to contain “themes of disaster and calamity.” Meanwhile, “dreams of interpersonal conflicts may elicit a more intense emotional response in women, leading to a greater proportion of such dreams ending in nightmare awakening,” she said.
The researchers asked 572 respondents to write dream journals, which resulted in nearly 10,000 dreams being recorded.
Universal themes included fear of being assaulted, fear of failure, being chased and the presence of evil forces, according to the study in the journal Sleep.
Researchers were surprised to discover people did not have to feel afraid to experience a nightmare with states such as sadness, confusion, guilt or disgust enough to have many waking up in a cold sweat.
Sunday Telegraph, February 3