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    Dear Arkesie, 

    I am scared to go to sleep. I try to put off going to sleep for hours because I am scared of all the bad dreams that I am having. They come every single night and I find sleeping even more exhausting than being awake. Sometimes I get so tired trying to put off the sleep that I don’t get to sleep until about 2 am and then I have to be up for work in four hours, which makes me irritable the next day. 

    I dream about being chased most of the time. Sometimes it feels like I can’t move fast enough but whatever is chasing me makes me run and run and run. Not only do I feel like I can’t run properly, but I can’t scream or call out for help either. It’s like I am paralysed! I have noticed that the dreams are becoming scarier too and sometimes it feels like I can’t even breathe. I am generally a pretty chilled-out person, but it feels like I am going through a murder scene every single night. I’ve had a pretty easy-going life, I mean, it’s not like I have grown up in a warzone, or had any major trauma. I just don’t get where all of this is coming from? 

    Can you help? I am sick of feeling tired and knackered all the time.

    Lucy J

    Dear Lucy J, 

    Thank you for your heartfelt message. It sounds like you are finding it difficult to find any restful peace at all. A lot of people experience nightmares, so I am glad that you brought this to my attention. Thankfully, nightmares are a normal part of being human. Some dreams can be incredibly dramatic and negative; however, they are often a way in which we are processing something that is occurring in our lives during the day. Sometimes they come as a result of a life-changing event or even signal internal changes within us too. It can help to try to find the root of whatever it is that is making us scared in bad dreams. Is it the feeling of being trapped, not being able to physically move or even not being heard?

    A lot of people experience dreams where they are being chased and it can often come when we are feeling vulnerable in some way. Try to note who or what is chasing you. What does it/they look like? Does it have any specific characteristics? What are you protecting yourself with? Paying close attention to these little details can help to put together the pieces of the puzzle. 

    Finally, that feeling of paralysis that you explained is often due to when we are in the REM (Rapid Eye Movement). stage of sleep We momentarily experience real physiological paralysis at that point. It seems that because you are feeling afraid in your dream that you might be experiencing heightened sensitivity to that feeling of not being able to move at all. 

    I would recommend that you seek the advice of a professional therapist who explicitly deals with dreams. It could be that there is some self-healing to do and through careful analysis of your dreams, you may find the answer!

    Best of luck, 

    Jimi D Katsis

    Consultant Psychotherapist @ Arkesie