The reasons why we have nightmares
If you’ve suffered from nightmares lately, this is the post for you. Let’s have a look at why we have nightmares, and how to conquer them.
Nightmares are dreams that bring out feelings of terror, distress and fear. They can feel more vivid and real than just a bad dream, and you’re more likely to remember a nightmare than a good dream.
They can cause you to wake up in the middle of the night, and can bring confusion and anxiety upon waking. Nightmares occur during REM phases of rest, and will often be in the later half of your sleep cycle.
Whilst there is no concrete evidence on why we dream, it is believed that daytime factors can definitely play a role. Have a think – what was your last nightmare about? Common nightmares consist of death, being chased or being in danger.
These can be influenced by feeling stressed or anxious throughout the day, which can both trigger a nightmare. If you’ve watched any scary movies lately, or had one too many binge sessions of American Horror Story on Netflix, that could also be to blame. One study on university students found that half of the participants said that a scary movie or tv show had affected their sleep, and a quarter of the students said they still experienced some kind of anxiety from the media watched.
If neither of the above relate to you, we hate to be the bearer of bad news… but it could just be you! If you’ve got any personality traits like emotional estrangement, distrust or are extremely creative, you’re more likely to experience chronic and vivid nightmares.
If you’re suffering from relentless nightmares, there are ways to deal with them. Make sure you relax in the hours before bed, and avoid horror movies at all cost.
Try not to consume alcohol before bed, and try to reduce your anxiety before sleeping – whether it’s a yoga class or reading an uplifting book, you need to feel calm and relaxed before hitting the sheets.
Still suffering? If you’re at the stage where you’re terrified to go to sleep, it might be time to seek help. Your doctor can refer you to a psychologist or sleep specialist, who can assist you by providing treatment to control your nightmares and train your mind to have better dreams.
Sweet dreams, koalas.
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