This Is What Really Causes Recurring Dreams

Dreaming allows us to go on a variety of adventures that we would never experience in real life. What is funny is that instead of taking advantage of this opportunity, our brains often like to repeat dreams we've already had. This is called a recurring dream and it happens to 60-75% of adults at some point. Unfortunately, most of these dreams tend to be negative, and they often involve the dreamer being in danger (per Consciousness and Cognition).

A survey conducted by AmeriSleep found that the most common recurring dreams include falling, being chased, and being back in school (isn't that a nightmare?). Some people have enjoyable recurring dreams that may include flying or going on wonderful vacations, but those tend to be few and far between. Interestingly, men are more likely to have these positive dreams than women, while women tend to beat out men when it comes to dreams of being chased or seeing creepy crawlies.

This is why you have recurring dreams

According to Healthline, recurring dreams expose our fears and the sources of stress in our lives. For example, if you dream of forgetting to study for a test, it is rooted in fear of failure, which may crop up before a date or job interview. People tend to experience recurrent dreams more often during times of stress (per Dreaming).

A distressing recurring dream may also point to unmet psychological needs, according to a 2018 study published in Motivation and Emotion. In fact, people with recurring dreams tend to have poorer mental health than those who do not. Some experts believe that in addition to highlighting daily struggles, recurring dreams may be the brain's way of processing trauma (per Sleep Foundation).

Recurring dreams often go away once their trigger is no longer present, Antonio Zadra wrote in his book Trauma and Dreams. The Sleep Foundation suggests relaxation exercises and even therapy to work out any underlying issues that may be at the root of your recurring dreams. Even just discussing and interpreting your nightmares may help put an end to them.

In the meantime, you can take advantage of these nightmares as an opportunity to lucid dream. This will involve recognizing the patterns within the nightmare, and then taking control of the dream and changing it to your liking, says Healthline.