Most people have nightmares on occasion. It isn't known exactly why nightmares occur, but some of the factors behind them may include the following:

  • Some nightmares are Toxic Dreams, very realistic and upsetting dreams that can occur in response to certain kinds of foods, drugs, or toxins, or in times of physical, mental, or emotional stress.

  • Nightmares may occur when the subconscious mind uses the dream state to play out subconscious fears or rehearse worst-case scenarios, perhaps to help prepare the dreamer for such experiences, should they happen in real life.

  • Nightmares often show up after the dreamer has experienced a traumatic event in real life or in a TV show, movie, book, etc.

  • A nightmare can also occur when a person has abandoned responsibility for themselves or their well-being, such as after consuming drugs or large quantities of alcohol.

Nightmares can be interpreted using the same techniques as other dreams, looking for parallels with situations in the dreamer's real life, and paying special attention to possible links to recent traumatic experiences (real or in the media) and subconscious fears.