Waking life agreeable -- dreams the reverse?

Background: I’m in my late sixties, retired from work. Am a rather timid, thin-skinned, socially awkward individual – not brilliant at standard human interaction, which has always had for me a considerable likelihood of – traumatically for me – going wrong. I’m someone for whom Internet message boards – “human interaction lite” – could have been made: if only this scene could have come about, decades before it actually did…

Working to earn a living, was never a very happy experience for me; compounded by my foolishly never having acquired marketable skills which would have played to my personal strengths. That being so: I am finding retirement, with sufficient funds pension-wise for a comfortable though not extravagant life – pretty much bliss. (I’m not in the US – and if the state- pension-and-related-payments “rug” which obtains for me at present, were to be suddenly jerked from under me, I’d be in trouble.) Am in the happy situation of being able to contentedly live alone, and to have as much interaction with people – Internet, and “meatspace” – as I wish; and no more – and have basically, plenty to do and to take an interest in.

I’ve always had vivid and often bizarre dreams, and have frequently remembered them: for most of my life, those have tended to be entertaining, rather than particularly unpleasant. In recent years, though – since retirement – I’ve come to be having, overall more nights than not: rather bad dreams, about my being in unpleasant situations. Said situations can be messed-up ones involving my screwing things up in my job ( which in the dream can be either stuff which I’ve done for a living in real life, or stuff which I never have); or my getting into quarrels with fellow-humans over assorted issues; or both. Most often, these disagreeable situations seem to be hideously complicated ones – I wake up in the morning from the latest dream thinking “thank heaven, that complicated stuff was just in the dream – my real life is blessedly so much simpler”.

It occurs to me to wonder whether this is all just random; or whether there is – be it psychologically / scientifically, or woo-ish / “the things that are not seen, taking a hand” – some element of redressing the balance: my life at present is more comfortable , than that which most of mankind is going through – dreams acting as a reminder, against my getting too complacent / comfortable? (I find this whole “dreaming” thing a fairly minor annoyance; but it is sometimes a bit of a disincentive re going to bed.)

Would be interested to know whether anyone else has experienced anything along these lines – “comfortable and tranquil waking life, counterbalanced by abundant ugly dreams”.

My unpleasant dreams are almost always the result of having to go to the bathroom, an upset stomach, etc. Body’s way of waking up the brain or viceversa. Similarly, it happens to me after 6-7 hours of sleep. So, probably mundane explanation, especially given your age, as most of us sleep less in later years, and (ETA) it sounds like you’re otherwise happy in life.

jerez, thanks for – only – response. Otherwise; well, this sub-forum is “Mundane Pointless Stuff I Must Share” – and sometimes, posts on it will be so very mundane and pointless that to all appearances, virtually no-one will be interested in having said stuff shared with them. This would seem to be a case in point – no worries !

jerez: at my age, I do indeed need to get up in the night to pee at least once, the great majority of nights. To best of my recollection, though, I’ve always tended to wake up a couple of times a night, between dreams; earlier in my life, this usually without the pee-ing factor. If ending-of-a-dream is needed so that I can wake to attend to bladder demand : can’t the “Dream Master”, for the purpose, go on supplying to me – as he far more often used to do – pleasant / entertainingly weird and crazy dreams? Why should it have nowadays, usually to be nasty ones?

Well, my real life isn’t all that great lately. Like you, I am “retired” in a sense. I became disabled and left the work force.

My dreams are a mixture of nonsensical and stressful. I’ll wake up sometimes feeling like I’ve just been running with my blood pressure through the roof. As you said, some of the worst of those are my “back at work” dreams, which make no sense to me, as I haven’t been there in quite a while, and will never be there again.

A few things have helped: mindfulness and learning some level of control in my dreams.

Mindfulness is a type of meditation. I am very much a light practitioner, but I recommend getting a book for beginners and trying some of the easy exercises. Since I started doing them, I’ve noticed my dreams are generally much more peaceful.

The second one is harder, I think, and I’m not sure how I did it to be honest. I got so very scared in a dream that I reached a point where a part of my brain said, “this is not real” and I changed the dream. In some dreams, I fly away from the bad guy chasing me. In some dreams, I make other changes that impact the dynamic (leave the office, for example). I think this is called lucid dreaming. I know there are exercises you can find online or in books on how to achieve this, but I have no idea whether they are effective. It is something I came to on my own.

I drink to cope with the Hellscape that is my life.

Sangahyando: You used the words “complicated” and “messed-up,” and Sunny Daze said “back at work.” I have these kinds of dreams when I’ve already gotten enough sleep or am running a high fever.

Sunny Daze: “I got so very scared in a dream that I reached a point where a part of my brain said, “this is not real” and I changed the dream.” I’ve posted here before about having a dream that was so absurdly disturbing that I eventually had to laugh. It was a long time ago, and I haven’t had a really horrible dream since.

Gatopescado: “It rarely helps” Yeah, it gets me there but I sure don’t feel fresh in the morning. Drinking just water the last hour or two before falling asleep seems to help.

For me, when really crazy stuff happens in my dreams, it dawns on me that this isn’t real.

For instance, I once had a dream I was being attacked by a tiger. It had gotten a hold of my arm. After the initial shock, it dawned on me: “This does’t actually hurt… Oh, I get it! This isn’t really happening.”

And then from there, I go from being shocked to fascinated by the events taking place. In the case of the tiger, after I stopped resisting him, and just let him do what he wanted to do while I watched with morbid curiosity, the tiger lost interest and walked away.

Which is about par for the course in dreams like this for me. Once I realize the bad thing happening to me isn’t real, the bad thing tends to stop.

Not long ago I started this thread where I told the story of a week-long period where I kept having the most horrendous dreams I have had in my entire life.

It was not, to be fair, exactly what the OP asks for (“agreeable waking life with bad dreams”), because at the time I was under a big amount of stress. But the dreams in question were really really bad.

Thanks, all. Sunny Daze: I have at times found myself able – this discovered by me, no suggestions from other quarters – to semi-consciously wrench myself into wakefulness, out of a dream which was especially horrific (mine rarely reach that pitch – even nowadays, they’re mostly about highly uncomfortable situations / personal-interaction miseries which stop short of physical violence).

Grrr!: interesting ! At the time – pace possibility I’ve found of “baling out” if it gets too horrible – the dream is usually totally real for me: don’t get any “this isn’t really happening” sense. Fortunately perhaps, my dreams have so far been tiger-free (well, I love tigers, though not to the point of willingly becoming lunch for one).

Having followed your link – my goodness ! Being put to death in various unpleasant ways: that, I feel, puts into perspective my current perceivedly bad dreams. Maybe I should cultivate an attitude of “be grateful that I haven’t got it worse”. Am glad for you that it was at least, only for a brief period.

I have never noticed any correlation between the agreeableness of my life and the disagreeableness of my dreams, nor vice versa. But my dreams don’t make any sense, so they aren’t particularly scary. And although I am aware that everybody dreams, I don’t remember my dreams for more than a minute or two after awakening. So maybe they are stressful, but I don’t remember this.