Negative Dreams, Disturbing Nightmares?

Dr. William K. Larkin

NightmaresWake up feeling scared, uneasy?

Dreams are a part of the disposal system of the brain. Nightmares clean your brain of what you don’t need. HOW? The body has the lymph system to dispose of cell waste. The brain does not have such a system so how does the brain get rid of two kinds of waste efficiently?

Cell waste and unnecessary neuronal associations.

The brain is always busy building neuronal associations. Some of these associations are useful, others are not helpful and need to get cleared out. It’s something like defragging your computer to regain Brain Defragspace. The lymphatic system in your body is at work all the time cleansing and dumping. But your brain can only cleanse when you sleep. I want you to really get that. Your brain can only cleanse when you are sleeping.

Brain health= good diet and good sufficient sleep.

Wondrously the blood vessels of the brain become the discharge system by the waste using the outside track of the brain blood vessels, then onto the blood brain barrier. The brain does not have lymph nodes. Such a miracle of design, this brain system of discharge.

Cortisol CollageBut here is the even more fascinating part. Bad dreams and negative, stressful dreams arouse cortisol, which engages other stress hormones to clean and defrag the unnecessary neuronal associations in your brain.

You are supposed to be protected by a barrier of unconsciousness so you don’t know about these nightmares, but sometimes they break through when we do not get good, restful sleep, by doing things that disrupt or interfere with good, deep sleep. That includes eating too late and what you take into your brain to process before you go to sleep. Watch negative television and you are going to be getting rid of negative neuronal associations.

We are very hung up on interpreting our dreams and assigning them some meaning. Especially the negative ones. Most of them make no sense.

They Dream Meaningsare a hobgoblin of unnecessary information and associations. Other dreams are more factual, perhaps, even predictive. However, if we are tuned into our lives and aware, our dreams are not going to tell us much more than our own more acute observations of our life would tell us if we were paying closer attention.

When we don’t, dreams break through what we don’t want to face, dumping our charade that isn’t working. Superficial people have fantastic breakthrough dreams. Get it?

The more your life is characterized by increasing genuine positivity being, the more negative dreams you are likely to have, as your brain cooperates and discharges more negative material. It’s good sign, not an omen that you’re failing.

Brain Cleanse 2Get good sleep to keep your brain clear and alert, and don’t be startled if you wake up feeling low or blah or frightened from a dream you can barely remember.

Nothing is wrong, the cleaning just took longer and likely what frightened you was dumping some very bad image you used to have of yourself that no longer fits anywhere!

In our dreams we are often saying goodbye to what no longer works, or solving an endless problem of something we haven’t yet let go of, of course disguised in the dream.

About the author

Dr. William K. Larkin
  • MissTowner

    For the longest time I believed that bad dreams meant I was doing something wrong in my waking life, talk about mind blown! I have some processing to do!!

  • Love the twist that a nightmare the “brain cleaning” itself of negativity. And that our dream/unconsciousness is breaking through for us that that we don’t notice. Beautiful! The whole system working for good, filtering for good, cleansing the negative because of awareness and many levels. Thank you!

  • joseph967

    This post has brought light to why I was continually having nightmares about my past. It truly is amazing how the brain removes what no longer servers us.

  • Jodi Yauch

    Hmm… I both agree and disagree with this statement: “Superficial people have fantastic breakthrough dreams.”

    In other words, all people have fantastic break-through dreams. One does not need to be superficial in order for that to happen and if one has a fantastic break-through dream, it doesn’t mean he or she is superficial.

    I do agree that, if ‘in tune’, one will recognize the dream content will reveal aspects of ones own life that is being ‘worked out’ in the mind. On the flip side, upon analysis, dreams have actually provided me insight into areas of emotional release that I wasn’t consciously aware of. During times of deep psychological release, analyzing my dreams have helped me to understand myself better and to understand what was actually being released.

    I’ve found that, in dreams like this, each character (and maybe even object) in the dream represents an aspect of me (or an aspect of an experience of mine) that is being released. This analysis has actually been quite insightful to me.

    I do believe that we should rely on our own psychic database, as opposed to relying on ‘dream dictionaries’ when doing this interpretation. Dream dictionaries can be used as a guide (and helpful to build our psychic database), but ultimately one will know what is right because one will feel it – not because someone else said it is so.

  • Yogess1111

    The brains ‘glymphatic system’ is an amazing system. It appears that while we sleep neurons shrink and the extra-cellular space expands by 60%. This larger space during sleep allows for more cleaning of unhealthy and dangerous molecules that can kill neurons and cause dementia. Some studies feel that beta-amyloid (a critical factor in Alzheimer’s) is removed during this process. I am continually in awe of our bodies ability to self regulate and take care of us if we simply provide the proper rest and fuel.

  • This is a topic I would love to learn more about. As I am working to lean into the UpSpiral by completing my daily scores and wants I have noticed I have been experiencing nightmares. I am not used to this frequency of fearful dreams. The concept of brain cleansing, my cells being exhausted in this way intrigues me and I want to know more.

  • The highlight of this blog article for me is that NOTHING IS WRONG as the brain cleanses itself at night. From the lens of neuropositivity, it makes sense that there is a positive benefit to the body’s dream mechanism. Without labeling dreaming as “good” or “bad”, one can objectively explore what dreaming has to offer to the brain. Although I had not previously heard that by dreaming “we are saying goodbye to what no longer works,” this explanation certainly resonates with me. The analogy that I would use is like the natural process of sloughing off dry skin on the body to find a fresh new set of healthy cells underneath. It makes sense that the brain would be disposing of unnecessary thoughts and feelings as it sleeps. I am much more readily able to shift into (or remain in) the UpSpiral after a disturbing dream knowing that my brain is working just as it was meant to do.

  • I am surprised by this blog. I have always heard that if we are negative and we go to bed in a negative mood, we will ‘marinate’ this at night and we will not have good dreams (Wyen Dyer) and weak up very tired. The Method Silva also has several techniques to plan what to dream in a positive way. If we follow the advises of Mr Dyer and the Silva Method will be not ever clean our brain as we will not have nitghmares?
    What to do then ?

  • Sleep is balance. Most people do not sleep long enough or deep enough to achieve REM. Other factors like stress or hormonal imbalances rob the body of the healing benefits of sleep. Those that do not get enough sleep for long periods of time can appear to be in a kind of mania or manic state. This article is testament to all of these things to emphasize even more reason to sleep, “per chance to dream.”

  • I appreciate all this great information about the importance of sleep and the power of the brain to cleanse itself! It is amazing that the brain knows what thoughts and feelings to get rid of because they no longer serve us. Truly amazing..

Copyright © 2015 The Applied Neuroscience Institute