Murder she dreamt? She, he, it doesn’t matter. A new study found dreams about murder and killing may mirror real-life aggression, hostility, and introversion.

Researchers from the Central Institute of Mental Health's sleep laboratory in Mannheim, Germany, surveyed 443 university students about the types of dreams they had, as well their individual characteristics. Twenty to 35 percent of students reported having dreamed of killing someone at least once in their lifetime — and this type of dream was related to “elevated walking-life aggression.” This is basically the aggression a person experiences in their daily, awake life.

Not only do dreams about murder suggest actual aggression, but researchers also found these dreamers also experience hostility, introversion, and don’t particularly get along with others. Students were able to remember their dreams two to three times a week, with men having more of the murder and killing dreams than women. This is on par with prior research that found men were more likely to dream about murder, as well as magical powers and alien attacks versus women dreaming about failing exams, relative deaths, and insects.

Michael Schredl, lead study author, told Live Science he wasn’t surprised to find a link between dreams about murder and walking-life hostility and aggression. However, he wasn’t expecting to find an additional link to introversion. “It's possible that people who have less agreeable personalities might feel aggression that is exaggerated in their dreams,” he said. “Introverts might keep their emotions, including aggression, bottled up in waking life, only to experience these feelings more intensely in their dreams.”

Emotions in dreams, Schredl added, can be much stronger than emotions people experience when they’re awake. If you have a dream about murder or killing someone, then it may be time for some self-reflection. Future studies may work to give us a deeper understanding of the kinds of murder or killing done in our dreams. For example, is it self-defense? Is it an accident, or in cold-blood? The difference may speak to different emotions.

Dreams, no matter how unusual or bizarre, are what experts call a safe space. Dr. Jose Malinowski, a lecturer in cognitive psychology at the University of Bedfordshire in the UK, told TIME a safe way to explore the self, to solve and figure out walking-life problems and issues. It may be the one instance we can say, "follow your dreams," without sounding totally cliché.

Source: Schredl M, Mathes J. Are dreams of killing someone related to walking-life aggression? Dreaming, 2014