Shaykh Jamir Meah gives a detailed answer on bad dreams, waking up emotionally distraught from them, and how one should deal with them.
Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.
What does it mean when you have a bad dream, you cry in the dream and wake up crying?
Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.
Some dreams carry meanings, and others are merely subconscious processing and filtering of emotions, stimuli, memories, and information absorbed from the waking state. Other dreams are inspired by God, and others are from the whispering of the devil. Some dreams are true and some are false.
This is confirmed through the saying of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, “Dreams are of three types: The good dream which is good tidings from Allah; the upsetting dream which causes pain is from the satan; and the third one is a suggestion of one’s own mind.” (Muslim)
While it is not possible to give an interpretation of your dream, given the upsetting nature of your dream and your reaction upon waking, consider it as belonging to the second type of dreams, from the mischief of the devil.
What to Do upon Seeing a Bad Dream
In the same hadith mentioned above, the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, gave us instructions on what to do upon waking up from a distressing dream, “So if any one of you sees a dream which he does not like he should stand up and offer prayer and he should not relate it to people.”
In another narration, he, blessings and peace be upon him, advised, “Good dreams are from Allah, so if any one of you sees something which he likes he should not disclose it to one but whom he loves, but if he sees something which he does not like he should spit on his left side thrice and seek refuge with Allah from the mischief of the Satan and its [the dream’s] mischief, and he should not relate it to anyone, then it will not harm him.” (Muslim)
He, blessings and peace be upon him, also said, “When one of you sees a bad dream let him blow three times on his left, seek refuge in Allah from the Satan three times [i.e., by saying, A‘udhu billahi min al shaytan al rajim] and change the side on which he was lying.”
Protection when Sleeping
The sunna of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, gives us not only solutions to the problems, but also the preventive prescriptions to avoid situations and harm. Therefore, we find a comprehensive outline of bedtime etiquette which affords protection during sleep. For further details, please see How Can I Protect Myself From Bad Dreams? and Praiseworthy Acts to Do Before Sleeping.
Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.