Sleep Game or Squid Game?

Sleep Game or Squid Game?

This article contains Squid Game spoilers.

What Is Squid Game?

Have you ever played games like tug-a-war, red light green light, or even hop-scotch? Many of these activities are part of growing up and are an essential part of this process. However, a South Korean drama show, called Squid Game has taken these childhood games to the next level. Squid Game surrounds individuals who are all in debt facing some sort of financial crisis. These individuals are first tricked to participate in a deadly tournament of childhood games. Though these individuals understand the consequences of playing with their own lives the participates still continue. The show continues on until there is only one winner, who will win a large sum of money. 

Squid Nightmares

This show is not for those who are sensitive to gory content and maybe the fuel to where nightmares come from. However, millions of individuals have been having squid game-related nightmares since seeing the show. Google searches for the term “squid dream” or “squid game dreams” have spiked since the show’s debut in mid-September, according to google trends data. EachNight’s researchers found that online searches for the phrase “squid nightmare” had increased by a staggering 4600% since Oct. 10.

Squid Game Photograph: Netflix

What Exactly Are Nightmares?

Nightmares are extremely vivid, disturbing dreams that someone can have. These dreams can cause an individual to wake up from deep sleep. Nightmares occur mainly during the REM cycle where most dreaming takes place.  REM stands for rapid eye movement, which occurs when the eyes move rapidly in different directions but does not send the brain any visual signals. REM sleep begins after 90 minutes of being asleep and appears in cycles. Each one gets longer whenever the cycle repeats itself.

Analysis from a study presented that sleep is essential to how people make memories. This leads to vivid dreams in accordance with the Sleep Foundation. Vivid dreams such as nightmares occur during REM sleep because the brain is more active and stimulated during this time. These dreams are a window into the unconscious mind. The reason for nightmares can vary from person to person, and the events they have gone through or experienced.

Art of a young child experiencing a nightmare.
Photograph: Grandfailure/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Signs Of Having A Nightmare:

  • The storyline is related to threats to safety or survival, but it can have a range of other disturbing themes 
  • It seems vivid and real
  • The nightmare becomes more disturbing as it unfolds
  • The dream awakens you
  • There is a feeling of being scared, anxious, angry, sad or disgusted due to the dream
  • The feeling of being sweaty or have a raised heart rate
  • You can recall details of your dream 
  • Dream causes distress that keeps the individual from falling back to sleep

There are also sleep terrors, which are similar to dreams but significantly different. Unlike nightmares, those who experience sleep terrors can not recall the distressing dream they experienced. Sleep terrors are relatively rare compared to nightmares.

The Types Of Squid Nightmares

Individuals who have watched Squid Game experience nightmares because of watching people go through traumatic experiences through their devices. A large number of people are experiencing these nightmares because it hits a core memory for a large population of us, childhood games. Our brains try to process these memories that are traumatic or emotional which can lead to nightmares. Individuals have experienced PTSD-type symptoms from Squid Game-related dreams, whether it be related to debt or one of the games itself.

Being a Contestant

The contestants are individuals who are participating in winning the games. Dreaming about this may indicate some form of struggle or stressful situation someone can be experiencing. Dreams can relate to events, feelings, goals, and more that are occurring in everyday life. Things such as modern pop culture like Squid Game can allow an individual to understand their life through a different perspective. 

Dreaming about being a contestant may indicate a strong desire to win in life. Being seen as a contestant participating in Squid Game may underline the feeling of being on the sidelines and wanting to take the chance to become someone in the spotlight. To interpret this type of dream determine if there is something you may want that you aren’t going after.

Red Light, Green Light

Contestants entering the stadium where Red Light, Green Light will be taking place.
Photograph: Netflix

Red light, green light is the first game in the show in which participants compete. The basic rule is that the movement occurs when the announcer states green light. When the announcer states red light contestants can not move or else they will be eliminated, in more than one way. This dream can indicate the feeling of something starting and stopping. It can be a relationship, project, event that is happening in life.

This dream could also indicate the sense of sneaking around. Especially in teenagers, sneaking around is not something new. Many youths want to experience partying and hanging out with others. This type of dream shows that stealth and silence will allow individuals to get where they want.


Image of Dalgona shapes which contestants must take out
Photograph: Netflix

Dalgona is a sugar honeycomb candy that comes with a shape in the middle. The honeycomb is the second game in the show, where players must perfectly pick out a shape that is in melted sugar. If they break part of the shape, the contestants would be eliminated.

This type of dream can express the fear of making mistakes. The honeycomb game is based on perfection and if one mistake is made the contestant is eliminated. This can relate to a situation in life in which something needs to be perfect and one mistake can cause severe consequences.

Tug of War

A scene of the Tug of War game
Photograph: Netflix

Tug of war is the third game in the show in which contestants are split into two teams. These teams must pull the rope which the winner is determined by whoever did not fall off the platform.

Having a tug of war dream may explain the dynamic of some relationship in life, having to tug one way or another. Another indication is feeling as if being pulled in two separate directions for two choices. The dream shows an internal struggle and trying to decide the best course of action. Dreaming of winning this game can show that there is already an answer and it must be acted upon.


A scene captured in Squid Game
Photograph: Netflix

Marbles are the fourth game in the show. Contestants play in teams or two, the rule of the game is to obtain the opponent’s marbles to continue on. The contestants can play any marble game as long as one of them wins the other’s marbles.

This type of dream can correlate with the fear of losing someone you care about. This is due to the fact the marble game individuals are split into teams of two, many picking a friend to play with them. However, they do not know whoever loses is eliminated.


Contestants participating in Hopscotch
Photographs: Netflix

This is the fifth game in the show, which is basically the same thing as hopscotch however players will go on the glass and fall to their demise if they choose the wrong choice.

The dream may explain the fear of something in real life going on. It can feel like being on the edge of the situation, on the verge of falling into a bad situation. There is a feeling of little to no control over what can occur.

Squid Game

Not only the shows logo but the set up of the Squid Game
Photograph: Netflix

The final game, related to the show’s title is Squid Game. This game is split into two teams defense and offense, and they must compete to win the large sum of money.

This dream can express the betrayal of someone close, it may be due to having to move on from a situation and win at life.

Winning Squid Game

Winning Squid Game means a lot, the show shows that individuals need to lose almost everything but also take risks to reach their goals. Dreaming about winning Squid Game can mean that individuals took a risk knowing they might have the chance of getting good results. If provided correctly and given the chance to take a risk individuals would do it to complete a goal.

Are Nightmares Good OR Bad?

During nightmares, two parts of the brain become active, the insula and cingulate cortex. The insula identifies and evaluates emotional responses, which the cingulate cortex prepares the body physically for threats. The cingulate cortex is well known as the part of the brain that gives a ‘fight or flight response. Nightmares can be considered training for real-life situations.

As shown in a study by the University of Geneva and University Hospitals Geneva, subjects were tested on what part of their brain reacted to certain dreams. For subjects who reported having lots of frightening dreams, the dreams triggered less of a response in the two brain regions mentioned above. As well as the amygdala, the brain’s ‘fear centre’. Rather than patients who reported few or none. Patients who had more bad dreams showed more activity in the medial prefrontal cortex, the region of the brain that’s known to ‘dampen down’ the fear response. Nightmares allow individuals’ brains to prepare for threatening situations, causing the reaction to not be as drastic as before.

Though nightmares seem to have good benefits it does have some consequences. Nightmares can cause sleep deprivation, which is a state of having inadequate sleep. This island can lead to underlying problems such as depression, heart disease, and obesity.

Photograph by Morgan Schweitzer

How To Have Fewer Nightmares

  • Establish a sleeping routine:  Waking up during REM sleep enables recollection of the dream and can result in distress. A healthy sleep routine can help reduce the amount of nightmares.
  • Don’t watch or read scary or gory content before bed: Shows such as Squid Game should be avoided before bed. This is mainly because nightmares are observations from real life, which seeing something scary or gory will make the brain process this last.
  • Sleeping in the right enviroment: Sleeping in the wrong enviroment, whether it be that the room is too cold or hot. Wether the bed sheets are uncomfortable or the bed is too hard, the wrong enviroment can distrub the REM cycle. Having the correct sleep enviroment will lead to less inturruptions while asleep.

Nightmares are not something new to anyone, but Squid Game sure is. Combining both can lead to consequences such as squid game-related nightmares. These nightmares are caused due to the fact Squid Game is a gory show, and many viewers may be seeing it at night. This increases the effect of the REM cycle being disrupted. Due to Squid Games increased popularity, a large portion of individuals have been facing nightmares relating. It is normal to get nightmares, however, it is not always healthy— just like participating in deadly games.

<a href="">Victoria Sosa</a>
Victoria Sosa

Victoria Sosa is a dedicated writer and editor of ​​The Caduceus Times, as well as a student at MAST@ Homestead. She is focused on touching the topics of entertainment and featured articles, allowing her readers to go through a journey through her writing. Her love for writing came from reading at a young age, as well the curiosity of the world around her. When not working, you can find her writing short fiction stories, listening to crime podcasts, or exploring new hobbies.