In-Depth

Recurring dreams often reflective of students’ lives

Jolted awake from a nightmare, you sink back into your pillows, relieved that you won’t have to experience that dream again. Some people, however, must live with the knowledge that their nightmares will come back to haunt them.

Junior Lin McDow said that they have experienced the recurrence of the same nightmare for almost eight years. They said the dream consisted of running through a maze-like stone structure.

“I’m usually being chased by some sort of mindless beast,” McDow said. “I’m in a really dark space and [there are] dead ends everywhere.”

They explained that the only way to escape the nightmare is to give in to the beast they are being chased by. Once they stop running, McDow said, their dream stops and they are suddenly awoken.

According to Healthline, recurring dreams are more common in children than adults and are often caused by stress, anxiety, depression, underlying sleep disorders and medication.

McDow speculated that this dream is most likely to occur when they are feeling anxious or upset and stems from a helpless feeling. They added that they expect this particular dream to continue. 

McDow is not alone in experiencing a recurring nightmare. Junior Jackson Klingelhofer also speculated that his dream is caused by stressors in his life.

In his dream, Klingelhofer described that he and his mother are trapped on a train about to hurtle off a track. He looks for the train driver but there is no one, and he is only awoken when the train topples off a cliff.

“Often when I am stressed or upset, I feel that there is no one who relates,” Klingelhofer said. “I feel like I am alone in my struggle, and I cannot ask people for help. That’s why people disappear in the dream, and I am forced to figure out something on my own.”

Klingelhofer said that he’s been experiencing this particular dream since second grade, up to twice a month, and isn’t sure if he’ll stop having the dream.

“If I do stop, I suspect it will be when I’m older,” he said. “I think once I’m older, I will be more mature and more confident in fixing my stressors.” 

Sophomore Rylee Barno experiences a recurring nightmare as well. She explained that it stems from a specific event where she and her mother were unable to find each other after a school day. This event occurred in elementary school, Barno said, and she began experiencing the nightmare shortly afterwards.

Barno explained that in this nightmare, she is stuck in the school and unable to escape.

“I keep trying to call my mom to tell her that I’m trapped in the school, but all the phones I try to use are broken,” Barno said. “I’ll look around for a while, but then my dream usually ends pretty abruptly or without a resolution.”

Barno said that she hasn’t had the dream for a while but that it tends to come back despite disappearing for stretches of time. She added that she doesn’t know if she will stop having this particular dream. 

Though recurring dreams plague some in the form of a nightmare, others such as senior Eleanor Ziance are affected differently by the experience of a repetitive dream. 

Ziance explained that her dream began for her in the spring of sixth grade before she began going to summer camp and commenced upon her arrival to the camp.

“I go to unpack my things and somehow I’ve forgotten all my bedding, my toiletries, clothes or something else important,” she said.

Ziance said that the dream results from a fear of not having enough time to pack or forgetting something important while packing. She said that the dream begins to reoccur around the time she gets ready to go to camp for the summer.

Despite the dream being stressful, Ziance said she doesn’t mind having it.

“I think it’s funny to report to my camp friends and family every time the dream starts coming to me in the spring,” she explained. 

Ziance added that the dream also motivates her to start preparing for camp and leaves her with a sense of excitement for the coming summer. She said that she isn’t sure if she’ll stop having the dream.

“Maybe even when I send my own children to camp one day, I will dream about not packing all the things they need,” Ziance said. 

Claire MacDonald
Claire MacDonald is a senior at Bexley High School and co-editor of The Torch. Outside of Torch, she swims and runs cross country and track for the high school.