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Musings: What About Nightmares?

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“I never paint dreams or nightmares. I paint my own reality.” Frida Kahlo

Musings: What About Nightmares?

Musings: What About Nightmares?

A Child’s Nightmare by Robert Graves
Through long nursery nights he stood
By my bed unwearying,
Loomed gigantic, formless, queer,
Purring in my haunted ear
That same hideous nightmare thing,
Talking, as he lapped my blood,
In a voice cruel and flat,
Saying for ever, “Cat! … Cat! … Cat!…”

What is it about nightmares that hold us captive? What causes nightmares and why do we spend time analyzing and terrorizing ourselves with them? From  nightmare research  and reports I read, there are certain factors that contribute to our nightmares such as: “stress, trauma, fears, insecurities, feelings of inadequacy, health problems, marital issues, and a host of other stress inducing events that contribute to our nightmares.” Some nightmares, like the Cat in Graves poem, recur again and again. For years, I had dreams about being pursued down a steep road and careening out of control. With time, I found that certain anxiety related conditions in my life were triggers for that specific dream.

I remember that for”Many of our daydreams would darken into nightmares, were there a danger of their coming true!” Logan Pearsall Smith

Musings: How To Keep Love In Your Heart

Musings: What About Nightmares?

That one word was all he said,
That one word through all my sleep,
In monotonous mock despair.
Nonsense may be light as air,
But there’s Nonsense that can keep
Horror bristling round the head,
When a voice cruel and flat
Says for ever, “Cat! … Cat! … Cat!…”

In the same reports mentioned above, the authors point out that they are ubiquitous: “one out of every two adults has nightmares on occasion. And between 2% and 8% of the adult population is plagued by nightmares.”  Events that trigger these nightmares for many of us tend to be related to issues from our childhood and/or family, Life changes, shifts in relationships, work pressures and the overall stress we experience when any of these areas are out of balance. The holiday season, tax time and other important events can heighten our stress levels which then lead us to have more nightmares. If I were preparing for a school test or a class presentation, my nightmare dreams would probably return with a vengeance.

“You have to know who you are, if you don’t you have nightmares.” Stephen Rea

Musings: What About Nightmares?

Musings: What About Nightmares?

He had faded, he was gone
Years ago with Nursery Land,
When he leapt on me again
From the clank of a night train,
Overpowered me foot and head,
Lapped my blood, while on and on
The old voice cruel and flat
Says for ever, “Cat! … Cat! … Cat!…”

There are a few more reasons why we have frightening dreams; eating a late-night snack, some medications that need re calibration, sleep deprivation,  sleep disorders, withdrawal from addictions, and anxiety and depression. All can cause adult nightmares and sometimes they spill over into our waking state. Some spill over nightmares have been associated with suicide. The same applies to Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which can trigger repetitive visits to the dark side. When exactly do they appear in our sleep state? “Nightmares tend to occur most often during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, when most dreaming takes place.” In that dream state, we are most relaxed, perhaps vulnerable and more inclined to open ourselves up to a state of inner chaos and hence, a nightmare. More below.

“I have had dreams and I have had nightmares, but I have conquered my nightmares because of my dreams.” Jonas Salk

Musings: What About Nightmares?

Musings: What About Nightmares?

Morphia drowsed, again I lay
In a crater by High Wood:
He was there with straddling legs,
Staring eyes as big as eggs,
Purring as he lapped my blood,
His black bulk darkening the day,
With a voice cruel and flat,
“Cat! … Cat! … Cat! … Cat!…” he said, “Cat! … Cat!…”

What can we do to relieve ourselves of nightmares? Starting a  yoga and meditation practice can offer us tremendous help. Also, having a regular exercise schedule,  getting PSTD Therapy if so needed, and practicing good sleep hygiene; enough rest, low noise and lights, good ventilation, comfy clothing and bed, will make a difference.  If all else fails, saying a prayer and  listening to soothing, meditative music and letting go of our daily stuff helps. With time, the nature and content of our dreams will turn around again and for the best.

Nightmares are releases.” Sylvia Browne

Musings: What About Nightmares?

Musings: What About Nightmares?

When I’m shot through heart and head,
And there’s no choice but to die,
The last word I’ll hear, no doubt,
Won’t be “Charge!” or “Bomb them out!”
Nor the stretcher-bearer’s cry,
“Let that body be, he’s dead!”
But a voice cruel and flat
Saying for ever, “Cat! … Cat! … Cat! via
Hope you enjoyed the poem and the post. Do come back soon. Wishing you Sweet Dreams and best wishes for  the rest of the year.

This post was inspired by a Daily Post Prompt: Daily Prompt: Nightmares  Describe the last nightmare you remember having. What do you think it meant?

*Please bear with me as I’m finally beginning to catch up on your blogs and commenting… I’m back on track; albeit at a slow pace. Thank you all for your patience! :-)

Positive Motivation Tip: A nightmare could be a warning to take better care of self… Pay attention.

PHOTO CREDITS/ATTRIBUTIONS: Cat tongue, Capricio, Pesadilla, Jheronimus Bosch, Buer, via Wikipedia

Until Next Time…
Ask. Believe. Receive. ©
Elizabeth Obih-Frank
Mirth and Motivation
Positive Kismet

45 Comments leave one →
  1. 20/02/2013 4:20 am

    This is fascinating!

    • 20/02/2013 11:10 am

      TY Julie! i knew you’d like this one. 😉

  2. 20/02/2013 5:00 am

    I like the Stephen Rae quote.
    You just reminded me that I dreamt something last night, don’t remember what it was but it wasn’t a nightmare.

    • 20/02/2013 11:18 am

      I don’t have nightmares much of late… which is a good thing. I find that writing on and offline helps express the stress. TY 🙂

  3. 20/02/2013 5:37 am

    First image is priceless–having never had a nightmare, I suspect that one person’s dream is another’s nightmare. Enjoyed the post.

    • 20/02/2013 11:19 am

      TY Sally… That cat’s spikey tongue is scary! And yes to your observation.

  4. 20/02/2013 5:40 am

    I have had my own share of nightmares, One of my friends helped me to analyse them and I concluded that it was my own mental complications that lead to those nightmares. Once the problem was solved, they never appeared.

    • 20/02/2013 11:19 am

      Good point and they probably are most of the time our own mental stuff. TY! 🙂

  5. 20/02/2013 7:09 am

    As a child I had a recurring nightmare that involved Mr. Peanut. You know, the Planter’s guy with the monocle? He would be at the foot of my bed and the monocle would get bigger and bigger and bigger until I would wake screaming. Go figure!
    Haven’t had any nightmares in a long time and don’t want any. My husband has been having them lately for the first time. Have to figure out what’s causing that.
    Interesting subject.

    • 20/02/2013 11:21 am

      Now that is interesting that your hubby is having a lot of late. if he going through any stressful changes? retirement can have its own kind of stress, no? TY! 😉

  6. 20/02/2013 10:34 am


    • 20/02/2013 11:21 am

      Hi Naomi! Glad you found it interesting. Do you have nightmares. 🙂

      • 20/02/2013 12:06 pm

        Sometimes. Not often. Some are obviously related to performance anxiety the night before a big performance. Others go deeper, and it is lucky I am an English major and can interpret them, because my dreams are often very symbolic.

      • 20/02/2013 12:16 pm

        Good for you as interpretation is half the battle won! TY for the follow up and I’m visiting you soon. How do you do it!? 🙂

  7. 20/02/2013 12:14 pm

    A very interesting post! I suffer a lot with nightmares! I have given up trying to work them out!!

    • 20/02/2013 12:58 pm

      Dear Willowdot. Do any of the reasons mentioned ring a bell for you or you’re beyond all that? I used to have nightmares too but they stopped and the sardonic humorist in me wants to say my life is already a nightmare. Oy vey! 😆

      • 20/02/2013 1:18 pm

        yes it all rings bells, mostly now I put my worst nightmares down to medication. ..sleep well….. if only XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX 😉

      • 20/02/2013 1:24 pm

        Okay cool… I don’t sleep much and that might be why the nightmares don’t have a place to hang out. 😆

      • 20/02/2013 1:27 pm


      • 20/02/2013 1:28 pm


  8. 20/02/2013 1:25 pm

    Yikes – that cat poem is really scary! I sometimes have nightmares, but I know my triggers. It’s usually only when I’m unwell (I actually recall once when I was stung by a wasp and had a severe allergic reaction that I had horrific nightmares for about three nights in a row!) Touch wood, I haven’t had a nightmare for many years now 😀

    • 20/02/2013 1:28 pm

      Oh yeah, I used to have them too when sick! Good for you to not have them… They can be quite disturbing. What I do have are prophetic dreams and those are thankfully rarely nightmarish… TY 🙂 Did you see my comic strip post? Curious what you think of it. 🙂 TY!

      • 20/02/2013 7:26 pm

        Is that “how to keep love in your heart’? If not, I may have missed the comic strip post 🙁

    • 21/02/2013 7:10 pm

      You had the right one… TY! 🙂

  9. 20/02/2013 2:29 pm

    I had a recurring nightmare as a child after being embarrassed in a school assembly. It should have been a early warning of the pressure that was put on me to be good at school! I also have nightmares when I’m feverish or sick, but that seems like a logical occurrence, doesn’t it, as your body purges the illness?

    • 20/02/2013 3:00 pm

      Yes, the one attached to illness seem common in many. Good to know. 🙂

  10. 20/02/2013 10:33 pm

    The quote by Stephen Rea is very true for me. I spent so many years fighting against my upbringing that I masked myself under it. It took years being away from Hawaii, where I was born and raised, to finally have recall of things through nightmares. I’ll be thinking about this post for awhile. Very interesting quotes, Eliz. I wish sweet dreams in color for you 🙂

    • 21/02/2013 7:11 pm

      TY Allyson for sharing a part of your life here…. and sweet colorful dreams to you too.

  11. 21/02/2013 1:56 am

    Thank goodness I’ve had very few nightmares, but they always leave me shaken. I can only remember half a dozen at most, so it’s not a big problem thank goodness.

    • 21/02/2013 7:12 pm

      I used to have them but not of late… and for that I’m thankful! 😉 Phew!

  12. 21/02/2013 10:44 am

    Recently I have been waking up at night screaming with my heart racing out of control. Unfortunately, I can’t remember anything from the nightmare save the screaming. I think tonight I will have one about cats though.

    • 21/02/2013 7:13 pm

      I do hope you place a journal by your bedside and tell your inner wisdom to help you wake up and record the dream… sweet dreams to you! TY! 🙂

  13. ropcorn permalink
    21/02/2013 10:52 am

    Nightmares are never fun! It is actually amazing how vivid and real dreams can feel. I sure am glad I don’t have bad ones very often. Hehe. 😉

    Always a pleasure to stop by here, Eliz.

    • 21/02/2013 7:14 pm

      Always a joy to see you here too. TY! And no bad dreams for us all this weekend. 😉

  14. 21/02/2013 9:10 pm

    indigestion gives me nightmares. 😀

  15. 24/02/2013 12:02 am

    Very interesting and great choice of images Eliz.
    Mine were clearly stress related ….of furniture or light fixtures coming crashing down, moments before the inauguration of a project 😀 Rarely have any now that I am on a sabbatical.

    • 04/03/2013 10:58 pm

      WoW! Yours sounds quite interesting and good to hear it has calmed down… Perhaps it has gone on sabbatical too.:lol: TY!

  16. 26/02/2013 10:27 am

    Wow deep quotes and reflections on those horrible yet fascinating thing as nightmares… For me nightmares… they are my deepest fears, my inner monsters…

    • 04/03/2013 10:59 pm

      I can imagine… they used to be mine too but they have gone elsewhere of late. TY! 😉

  17. 08/03/2013 9:20 am

    fascinating post, Elizabeth

  18. 24/01/2014 6:33 pm

    Oh that’s it. I experienced nightmares when I am so stressed. It’s a clear warning to slow down.


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