Do you dream of your former partners? It may be a sign of anxiety

People with anxiety are more likely to dream of ex-partners, says one German study.

Do you dream of your former partners? It may be a sign of anxiety
Woman sleeping. Credit: Anne Spratt at Unsplash

Do you often dream about your exes? This type of dreaming could indicate anxiey, as three types of dreams are linked anxiety: driving a motorbike at full speed (without necessarily controlling it), being chased or the presence of an ex-partner, reported RTBF.

Stress levels decide the content of dreams

Our stress levels may decide what we dream about, suggested a recent study by German researchers from the University of Düsseldorf and published in Dreaming.

The researchers tracked the dreams on 76 people divided into two groups ( half of which had anxiety disorders). The study was based on interviews as well as the 'dream diaries' that the participants agreed to keep for 21 days.

At the end of this period, the researchers noted that certain types of dreams appeared much more frequently in people with anxiety.

Overall, the study indicates that people with anxiety have dreams with more negative emotions.

"Anxious patients' dreams contained more characters , a higher number of different activities , a lower number of friendly interactions, and a higher frequency of failures,"  the researchers said.

Geography impacts sleep

The study could pave the way for larger studies aimed at better understanding how the unconscious manages anxiety. Dreams 'cleanse' the mind, through of subconscious, of stress or anxiety experienced throughout the day. The phenomenon explains why many dreams point to universal patterns even if the content varies on from one individual to another.

Another study suggests that anxiety isn't the only factor that explains why the content of dreams differs depending on the subconscious that creates them. The study conducted by the Secret Linen company may also be dependent on which country the dreamer lives.

Geography matters as the a survey by Secret Linen shows that many dreams feature animals. But while many Brazilians see mice in their sleep, Indians dream of elephants. Austrians and the Germans, on the other hand, are more likely to dream of spiders.


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