You’re running through the woods as fast as you can. Your legs give in as you grasp at the air for support. You look around for help and scream at the top of your lungs. There’s nothing left for you to do. You resort to a religion you abandoned years before and start to pray that you make it through.

You wake up.

Heart pounding, mind racing, you bring your hand to your face and realize it was just a dream. A sigh of relief passes through your body as you attempt to re-cap the details of the story your mind just produced. So I wasn’t a tribute in the Hunger Games. So I wasn’t just dangling off of a 40 storey building surrounded by the members of Nickelback. Whatever the conclusion may be, one of the greatest feelings is that of the realization of a nightmare. Knowing your life is not in explicit danger is enough to kick-start your day, or, make you seek psychological help.

As of lately I haven’t been one for nightmarish thoughts. But, when I was at the young, joyfully boisterous age of 15, after my family had moved into a new house, a string of dark and throttling dreams moved into my mind. Terror and excitement soon ensued.

After reoccurring dreams that involved being mauled by birds and several nights resulting in me wandering into my parent’s room at 4 a.m., tears streaming down my cheeks, my family decided to take action and put an end to my newfound Steven King-esque mind. My mother insisted the problem had to do with the “Feng Shui” of the room, and subsequently rearranged all my furniture. My sister headed over to a garden store and purchased a dream catcher, and my dad drove me to the doctors to seek professional assistance. I had faith in mother’s and sister’s attempts to clear my thoughts, but was favouring more heavily what the doctor had to say.

Turns out, I was lactose intolerant. Apparently the discomfort caused by my milk ingestion was leading to the upsetting thoughts.

Nightmares may sometimes seem to be dark and foreboding visions giving a glimpse into the hidden recesses of your mind, but sometimes the cause or solution can be as simple as the position of your window or newly developed dietary restrictions.

Ancient Egyptians believed that if you had a good dream, it meant something bad was about to happen. Therefore, bad dreams were often a sign of good luck. Meanwhile, the good ol’ Babylonians believed that good dreams were caused by kind, harmless spirits, while bad dreams were manifestations of Satan. Exorcists, take note.

For as long as people have been lulling into sleepy time story time, humans have worked to interpret the meaning of these unique and personal visions. Nightmares have caused a particularly inquisitive approach due to their frightening and shocking nature.

“I felt scared, it was as though it really happened. I felt like I was in shock,” explained second year Social Work and Psychology student Keilly when asked how she felt after her last nightmare.

“The memory lingers with you,” further expressed second year English and Art History student Jamie.

One of the main reasons why nightmares are so terrifying is due to their relation to real life. If something is causing you anxiety, it’s likely that your subconscious will reflect the same fears in your dreams. Other common causes of nightmares include increased consumption of caffeine, memories of a traumatic event and unfinished emotional business. If you’re looking to make your terrorizing dreams come to an end, begin by assessing any unique situations currently plaguing your personal life, and proceed to speak to someone about how you’re feeling. Even try imagining a happier ending to your vision to reverse the damage of the previously traumatic finish.

If you find yourself startled and awake from a nightmare, just relax and remind yourself that it was just a dream. And while you’re at it, thank your lucky stars you aren’t lactose intolerant.

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