Falling dreams are the most common type of dreams. Nearly everyone has experienced a falling dream at some time in their life, and most of us have had them multiple times. If you are experiencing falling dreams you may feel as if you’re falling for long minutes, experiencing terror the entire time. Your blood pressure may rise, your heart rate may accelerate, and you may sweat through your night clothes. An experience like that can ruin your night’s sleep and put you off your game for the rest of the day. Though these dreams can happen at any time of the night, they most often happen just as you fall asleep, causing temporary insomnia in some people. Figuring out what is causing these dreams can help you regain your equilibrium in both your waking and sleep states.
What causes falling dreams?
One theory for why we these dreams, is that we’re having a subconscious reaction to a physiological event. We are “falling asleep”, and that means our bodies are going through a process that we act out in our dreams.
As we begin to fall asleep, our heart rate begins to slow and our blood pressure begins to drop. As our nervous system begins to quiet, our body temperature also slightly drops. This could cause us to dream as if we’re experiencing this as a literal free fall, as if we’ve fallen off a building or from an airplane without a parachute. We often jerk back awake during this event, which has caused some to speculate that if we didn’t come awake, our bodies would die the moment our dream selves hit the ground. Thankfully, that has been proven to be untrue. Our physical bodies can’t die as a result of dying in our sleep.
A loss of control
Though the physiological event of drifting off into sleep may cause many falling dreams, it isn’t the only reason we dream we are caught in an out of control free fall. More often, perhaps, we dream of free falling because some part of our lives is out of our immediate control.
No matter how much we may sit and plan out our lives, they rarely run as smoothly as we hope. Our careful plans are often disrupted by events beyond our control. Perhaps if we lived in a controlled environment, there would be no need for dreams of falling. Unfortunately, someone or something is always throwing a monkey wrench into the works and we end up feeling vulnerable; we feel as if our lives are out of control. We feel overwhelmed because we can’t predict the outcome and we aren’t sure we can plan for it.
If you’re having dreams in which you’re falling and have absolutely no control over your descent, and you wake from this dream panting, sweating, and feeling anxious, take a look at your life and see if there are any areas in which something else is controlling your future.
An instructive example
It can happen in any area of life. Maybe you’re gunning for a promotion, one that’s an essential building block to your entire future. You’ve got it all planned…the house, the car, the 2.5 kids…then the boss brings in someone from the outside and it looks like they’re being groomed for that position. It throws everything off. The future is suddenly far less certain. You might feel anxious. You may worry that you won’t be able to follow your original plan. You may even have to consider changing companies or even careers, necessitating throwing your entire plan away and creating a new one, but you don’t yet know where the chips will fall.
Suddenly, you’re having falling dreams.
Of course, it needn’t be career plans that are throwing your life out of whack. Changes in family, taking on a new large commitment, even feeling as if someone you depend on is letting you down can cause you to feel anxious enough to experience a free falling dream.
Dealing with these dreams means dealing with the issues that may be causing them. Once you’ve determined the cause, you can deal with the feelings that they bring.
The key may be remembering
If you remember your dream well enough to know why you were falling, it can help you determine what area of your life is causing you the unconscious stress. Knowing that can help you deal with it and overcome it. Reducing that stress will have many more benefits than helping you to stop the dreams.
Where you fall can be significant. If you fall from a building or onto a building, the building itself may tell you what your stressor is. Is it your home, your office, or maybe a government building? Try to remember what you fall onto or from to further examine where the stress comes from.
If you’re pushed off a high surface you may be pushing yourself too hard. Consider the different projects you have going. Is it too much? Should you let some go?
If the person who pushed you is someone you know, that person may be the cause of your stress. Once you know this consciously, you can concentrate on the relationship and work out how to reduce the pressure.
There are many ways in which a person can fall and each of those ways can say something about your situation. Try to remember the exact circumstances of your fall so you can find the triggers that set off the anxiety in your life.
To help you with this, try an exercise before you fall asleep. Decide that if you dream of falling again you are going be completely aware of the circumstances before and during the fall, and of the target onto which you’ll land.
Once you decide to be aware of this in your conscious mind, your unconscious mind may respond by helping you to be alert to all of the circumstances around your fall, and to remember them when you wake.
When you become successful at examining your dreams, you can use those dreams to alter your life change your life for the better.