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Bad dreams seem to be on the rise. But what you’re experiencing at night may depend on how you’re living right now.

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In my recent dreams, I often find myself in filthy, broken-down bathrooms with stall walls that are too short and doors that don’t lock. I try to find a place to pee in private, but I never can. Other people can see me using the bathroom. I am panicked and embarrassed.

It’s a common dream theme and not just for teeth-obsessed Americans

Illustration: Shuhua Xiong

It happens all the time.

And what experts think they mean

Photo: Gabriele Vilkaite / EyeEm/Getty Images

Whether you’re a restful or restless sleeper, you’ve likely had the experience of waking up at night in a cold sweat, heart pounding with fear, only to sigh with relief when you realize that person chasing you down a dark alley was just a figment of a bad dream.

Reasonable Doubt

Experts think lucid dreaming could be therapeutic. How to achieve the dream state is complicated.

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In late January 2019, roughly half the world’s dream researchers — about 50 people — gathered on the sixth floor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) media lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It was the first-ever “Dream Engineering” workshop hosted by the MIT Dream Lab, which was formed a year and a half ago.

A mesmerizing dive into the latest science

Photo: Jose A. Bernat Bacete/Getty Images

The brain does something special during sleep. Instead of simply switching off, it activates patterns of activity that can lead to dreaming. But what exactly is happening to the brain during a dream? It’s a question that has puzzled scientists for a long time, and new research is revealing some answers.

Great Escape

More psychologists are incorporating dream analysis into their practices — and patients are seeing real-world payoff

Credit: Mike Ramirez/EyeEm/Getty

Nubia DuVall Wilson is in a frenzy. She’s packing up her entire home, and she needs to do it fast. She has only one suitcase, which she’s shoving all of her belongings into as quickly as possible. But as soon as one item goes in, new ones appear around her. It’s a relentless cycle of never being able to pack it all away. But Wilson frantically forces more and more into the suitcase anyway.


Your life, sourced by science. A publication from Medium about health and wellness.

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