Why do I have nightmares about work

nightmaresWork through fears of failure

"I worked for a long time at the university, in research. And the defense of the doctoral thesis is very important, because you can have wonderful nightmares 'or' I forgot all my documents'. The nightmare, 'the computer doesn't communicate with the computer in the lecture room' is always particularly nice. "

"For me, I work as an architect and it was a building with an inner courtyard, this inner courtyard naturally had no exit to the outside, and so I dreamed that the inner courtyard would fill up because the downpipes were not yet connected and that the fish can already be seen when they swim in the courtyard. "

"I'm a lawyer and I know nightmares, I'm sitting in the 2nd state exam and I've forgotten to learn the general Civil Code. It's my nightmare that has haunted me for years."

No matter whether you are overwhelmed and overworked or whether the work-life balance is completely in order - many people know stressful dreams about work. Job nightmares can repeat themselves for years.

Processing three days of working life

Klaus Junghanns heads the sleep medicine laboratory at the Center for Integrative Psychiatry in L├╝beck, so he is very familiar with what goes on in the brain during sleep. And the fact that many dreams basically have to do with work is not at all surprising to him.

"When you wake people up in the phases where you have dreams, then these dreams are actually always about what you have experienced in the last three days. And these aspects are typically those that have also been in professional life, because that is a central part of life. "

Ok - if you work a lot, you also dream a lot of work - so far, so plausible. It is noticeable, however, that many of these nightmares have to do with violent feelings. One feels ashamed, panics, fears of failure and of not being able to complete a task, that one messes up exams or completely embarrasses oneself.

Fearful people are more likely to dream of failure

That doesn't have to have anything to do with how you actually get along in your professional life, says sleep researcher Junghanns. It is more a question of type, who is haunted by such dreams more often: namely, people who are generally ashamed more quickly and are afraid of being embarrassed are also more likely to dream of not being able to say a word at the next presentation in the office. Because fear of failure and feelings of shame in particular - whether at work or privately, in relationships, for example, can be packaged in a dream in work and exam situations, says the dream expert.

"We know that nightmares are primarily emotional processing dreams, so they are about things that you have experienced and that you deal with stressful, and of course there are plenty of opportunities in professional life for that. Central issues of failure, loss of control, go there in without there having to have been a problem the day before. I think these are primordial fears that arise. "

A round of self-reflection is necessary

So if you are often plagued by stressful job nightmares or find yourself completely unprepared in the Abi exam at night, you should see: Do I tend to feel rejected quickly? Am I very afraid of failing or losing control? Maybe it's also due to stress: a heavy workload can also lead to nightmares. In addition to a round of self-reflection, there is also something else that helps with nightmares of all kinds: You reprogram the dream while you are awake. A very effective method, says sleep researcher Junghanns:

"How can you change a dream? And change it in such a way that it no longer creates this fearful atmosphere, but ends in a funny way. So the creativity of the dreamer is required and then this is then practiced in fantasy exercises Imagined over and over again during the day, before the night, the nightmare no longer arises at night, that it appears to have been worked through. "

Dreams "re-fantasizing" brings control

For example, the architect jumps into the water-filled inner courtyard in full gear, the lawyer simply sings Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen during the state examination, and why shouldn't you - in your dream, mind you - simply open a bag of chips during the exam? Those who re-fantasize their dreams take away the horror of the nightmare and maybe regain some control over what one experiences at night.

Most of them, however, get along quite well with the occasional nightly horror trip.

And what is somehow very reassuring: Even dream researchers know such dreams.

"I remember the dream in myself that I have to take my Abi again and come to the exam completely inappropriately dressed and have not prepared myself. I did my Abi well and still they have come back to where I have been for a long time was a licensed doctor. They no longer have anything to do with reality, but they express this fear of losing control. "