Recently, the team of ThePleasantDream conducted a one-of-its-kind survey to understand the impact of trauma on people’s dreams. 

Of the 502 people who participated in the survey globally, 135 were from Canada. Among them, 87.5% of the participants had experienced a traumatic event in their lives.

The team collected data through an online survey on the website and social media platforms.

Let’s see what the research revealed.

Demographics of the survey participants

Of the 135 participants from Canada, 62.5% belonged to the age bracket of 21-35 years, followed by 12.5% falling in the age bracket of 15-20 years, 35-40 years and 40-55 years each. 

Again, 50% of the participants were female and 50% were male.

62.5% of the participants were working professionals, followed by 12.5% who were students, entrepreneurs and homemakers each.

What do the statistics say?

87.5% of the participants said that they did experience a traumatic event in their life. These traumatic events could have been a nasty breakup, the death of a loved one, or the loss of a job, etc. 12.5% of the participants answered that they have never experienced trauma in their lives.

Again, out of 87.5% of the participants, 75% said they had experienced traumatic or weird dreams after the traumatic event. On the contrary, 25% did not experience any traumatic dreams following their traumatic experience.

What was the most common recurrent nightmare after the incident?

28.6% of participants answered “being chased” as the most common nightmare they experienced after a traumatic event in their life. Followed by “you are being late for some destination” and “teeth falling out in dreams,” with 21.4% each. Besides these, various other distressing dream scenarios were mentioned by the participants, as can be seen from the below-given graph.

How often do people experience traumatic dreams?

The participants were asked ‘how often they had traumatic dreams?’ The team received a variation of answers –

  • 25% of participants experienced traumatic dreams “once a year.”
  • 25% of participants encountered “once in 2-3 months.”
  • 25% of participants answered, “once a year.”
  • 12.5% suffered from traumatic dreams “once a month.”
  • 12.5% of participants struggle with traumatic dreams “once a week.”

Do people STILL experience these traumatic dreams?

Experiencing trauma can often leave a person in a shattered and agonizing condition for a long time, so the team asked the participants if they still experienced traumatic dreams. To this, their answers were –

  • 25%% answered, “Yes.”
  • 75% answered “No.”

What was the preferred coping mechanism to deal with their traumatic dreams?

Traumatic dreams can be filled with anxiety and can severely hamper sleep. One common characteristic of such dreams is that they are recurring in nature, i.e., once a person experiences trauma, they may repeatedly see some traumatizing dreams after the incident.

So, when asked how they managed their traumatic dreams, participants gave the following answers:

  • 37% answered “meditation” is the best way to cope with traumatic dreams.
  • 25% of respondents answered, “keeping busy.”
  • Rest, 12.5% of respondents answered “journaling,” “playing games or soccer,” and “with time”  

Expert’s Opinion

Dr. Nereida Gonzalez-Berrios, MD, reviewer and certified psychiatrist of ThePleasantDream, commented, “Traumatic events can severely impact the inner framework in our brains, and people can also experience a change in their dreaming patterns.”

She added, “Most people experience traumatic events during adulthood, ” corroborating the survey findings. The survey also revealed that working professionals suffer the most from traumatic dreams. This happens as adulthood is the most stressful time when people are busy juggling their careers, relationships, and familial obligations. “

While discussing the coping mechanisms of traumatic dreams, Dr. Nereida said, “It’s good to know that 37.5% of the population in Canada have chosen to practice meditation to heal their traumas.”

She further elaborated, “People need to consult a mental health professional or resort to journaling & meditation to start their healing journey. This would greatly benefit them and enable them to enjoy a peaceful & refreshing sleep.”