Survey reveals the worst nightmares of Canadians

Nightmares can and do affect our days and nights, with no way to avoid this unfortunate phenomenon completely. However, in times of excessive stress, burnout, and lingering effects of the global pandemic, dreams are one of the very few tools people have to relieve their minds of accumulated burdens.

While one-off nightmares will replicate certain events, the ones that occur over and over again can damage our social, emotional, and physical well-being. Plenty of factors influence the everyday lives of Canadians, but which are their worst nightmares? Our team at SlotsMove conducted a survey giving the answers and discloses whether women are more likely to suffer nightmares than men. In order to conduct this survey we used the platform of MarketsChain.

In the first week of March, SlotsMove surveyed 1,100 Canadians by giving them a list of nightmare themes with no limit on the number of answers. As our aim was also to assess the differences between men and women, the ratio between male and female respondents was 50/50. In order to conduct this survey we used the platform of

What Bothers The Dreams of Canadians Most?

Nightmares reflect emotions and concerns, so there can be no unequivocal answer as to which of them appear most often in people’s dreams. To uncover what wakes Canadians up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, we surveyed 1,100 respondents (550 women and 550 men). Their responses revealed some general tendencies, and here are the Top 5 nightmare themes confirmed:

  1. Falling down – 65.1%
  2. Abortive escape attempts – 64.3%
  3. Death of a loved one – 55.7%
  4. Not having the ability to talk – 44.4%
  5. Missing an appointment or event – 32.0%

The most prevalent dreams were about fear in some form, which is quite logical provided that the word “nightmare” means a frightening or very unpleasant dream. Falling is quoted by more than 65% of people as the most common nightmare they have ever had. There is a purely physical explanation for this one. While we are sleeping, or at the point of falling asleep, our muscles relax and the brain reads it as an actual fall. From a psychological point of view, such bad dreams are often related to a feeling of burden beyond one’s strength.

Almost an equal share of Canadians have dreamed about being chased and unable to escape (64.3%). This is a nightmare theme that is particularly common to people who feel ensnared in situations with seemingly no positive outcome. An example could be an unpleasant but remunerative job or dependency and fear of a spouse.

The third most frequent nightmare specified in our survey is the death or disappearance of a close relative (55.7%). Most often, in dream interpretations, this is a sign that a change in the relationship has happened or is about to happen. Such transformation does not have to be bad, it simply means that one stage is over and another one (marriage or a long stay abroad, for example) will soon take place.

With 44.4%, nightmares in which people feel incapacitated or suddenly lose the ability to speak come next on the list of the most common bad dreams experienced by Canadians. Similar to the abortive escape attempts, helplessness is again involved, along with the feeling of being underrated and misunderstood.

Although with lower percentages, dreams about poor performance at school, work, or sports also have their place on the list. Nightmares in which someone is late for work or for an exam (32.0%) are typical of people whose daily routine depends on short term deadlines. The fear of not being on time is consistent, and does not let the individual’s consciousness rest even during sleep.

Most Recurrent Nightmares
Falling 65.10%
Abortive escape attempts 64.30%
Death of a loved one 55.70%
Not having the ability to talk 44.40%
Missing an appointment or event 32.00%
Natural disaster 31.80%
Attending an exam unprepared 31.20%
Getting lost 27.60%
Sustaining a physical injury 26.00%
Conversation with a deceased person 19.20%
Abnormality of one’s body 16.80%
Bugs and beetles attack 15.30%
House burning down 11.80%
A flat tire while on the road 7.50%
Suddenly becoming white-haired 6.80%

Is Gender a Crucial Factor

Neither type of nightmare is expressly typical of men or women as dreams are influenced by factors such as mental health, stress tolerance, and personal history. Nonetheless, some studies, as well as the thorough data analysis of our survey, show that in certain areas, women are more likely to have bad dreams than men.

In order to assess gender distinction, we asked our respondents if they had experienced nightmares related to specific issues. The results brought to light some intriguing ratios.

Women Men
Losing a beloved person 55.40% 45.60%
Being attacked 56.20% 43.80%
Being mocked for ugliness/weight 59.20% 40.80%
Technology glitches 33.70% 66.30%
Failing to pass an exam 53.00% 47.00%

Out of all the respondents who gave a positive answer when queried about a nightmare concerning the passing of a loved one, just above 55% were women. Many of them shared that they had already experienced the loss of a partner, a child, or a close friend and that mourning was affecting their everyday life.

Police statistics clearly show that women are victims of domestic abuse far more often than men, which is why it comes as no surprise that a higher percentage of female respondents have had dreams of being attacked.

Despite the progress in gender equality issues, obsessive concern with one’s clothes and physical appearance remains a woman’s prerogative. However, fashion and glamor are not everybody’s thing, and a lot of women suffer from body image complexes which are easily transferred to their dreams. The survey shows that far more women have had visual appearance-related nightmares than men – 59.2% vs 40.8%.

A topic that women do not seem to be particularly interested in is dealing with technical gadgets. Nightmares about devices out of order are more common for men (66.3% vs 33.7%). Just the opposite is true for dreaming about failing an exam, where women rate 6% higher than men. This is not due to a lack of self-confidence or knowledge, but to the fact that women are considered more susceptible to their feelings and anxieties, which can easily take the form of nightmares.