A nightmare is a disturbing dream frequently associated with negative, disturbing and distressing thoughts and feelings. Nightmares are quite common in kids of 3-6 years age group. As you age, the frequency of nightmares tends to decrease. However, adults may also experience nightmare. The exact cause or the reason of nightmares is unknown. However, apparently, certain psychological factors trigger nightmares in adults. For instance, mental stress, anxiety disorder, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Let us share some exciting and interesting facts about nightmares that you probably didn’t know before:
Top 12 interesting facts about nightmaresLet’s start:
1. Nightmares happen during REM sleep!!The rapid eye moment (REM) is the state in which the dreams and nightmares occur. REM sleep involves rapid movements of the eyes, paralysis of voluntary muscles, and subjective experience of dream and nightmare. A nightmare is different from a general or common dream. The main features of a nightmare are extreme negative thoughts, fear, stress and anxiety. The REM sleep is associated with learning and memory. That’s why, nightmares are often triggered by some past psychological factors that have happened in past. Renowned Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud wrote in his book “Interpretation Of Dreams”;
“The interpretation of dreams is the royal road to knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind.”
2. Brain is active and wide awake during nightmare!!Nightmares happen during the REM sleep that is usually late night and the last part of sleep cycle. This is the time when REM is strongest, its period of rapid eye moment, high brain activity and inhibited motor activity. That’s why we feel paralyzed during nightmares. Furthermore, the amygdala is highly active during REM, the part of brain associated with fear and other negative emotions.
3. The REM sleep is quite beneficial for physical health!!The phase of rapid eyes moment (REM), when most nightmares occur, is quite beneficial for vital body organs. During this phase, the blood flow decreases to the brain and is redirected to other vital organs and muscles. The research by American Sleep Association reveals why REM sleep is important for us. You will be amazed to know that during this sleep phase, the skeletal muscles act as if they are paralyzed. Moreover, all the involuntary muscle except eyes, are without movement. This is in fact body’s pretention mechanism to prevent possible injuries as we would otherwise act out our dreams.
4. Night owls and people who sleep longer experience more nightmares!!The people who stay up till late night, “the night owls” and those who sleep longer, experience more nightmares than others. This is because their sleep pattern is different from the natural circadian rhythm. Moreover, sleeping for longer time duration means to stay in REM sleep for longer period of time. Thus, more chances of having a nightmare.
5. Nightmare disorders are rare but real!!In general population, every 1 in 20 people have nightmare every week. The ratio is much higher in those suffering from some kind of mental health issue. Nightmare disorders are rare but real kind of disorder. In medical terminology, nightmare disorder is called as “parasomnia”. This disorder is characterized by disturbed sleeping pattern. In this condition, the person experiences anxiety, negative emotions, distress even after waking up and it also affects the person’s functioning or performance in daily tasks.
6. Say no to late night snacking and horror movies!!Having dinner too late and late night snacks can be a reason for bad dreams and nightmares. This is because eating right before going to bed increases your metabolism. Your brain becomes more active even during sleep, leading to nightmares. Moreover, avoid horror movies and reading such stuff before going to bed.
7. Fear is not the only feeling associated to nightmares!!Fear is one of the several factors that cause or are related to nightmares. Pessimistic thoughts, confusion, guilt, hatred and grief also cause nightmares. Also, if these are the reason, you will experience nightmare more frequently.
8. Nightmares are kind of emotional exfoliate - they make you feel better!!Another of the surprising and interesting facts about nightmares is that they can actually help you release emotional stress and emotional anxiety. Scientists have affirmed this surprising fact. Nightmares are mainly caused by emotional stress, anxiety and past traumatic event. So, when we sleep, our brain replays all the abstract thoughts and fears in a narrative. Consequently, we have a nightmare and when we wake up, we may or may not remember whole nightmare. Consecrate memories are easier for our brains to process. Moreover, we subconsciously consider the bad memories as past event not the present happenings. That’s how nightmares act as emotional exfoliate.
9. Certain medicines may trigger nightmares!!Certain chemical may interfere with the body metabolism and may trigger nightmares. So, if you are taking some medicines, you are likely to have bad dreams. Furthermore, narcotics and alcohol also trigger nightmares. Also Read: Interesting facts about candles
10. Imagery rehearsal therapy (IRT) – the trick to remember the nightmare!!Imagery rehearsal therapy (IRT) is the technique by which you can remember the details of nightmare. For the purpose, you have to write down all that you remember of your nightmare. Then, think about it all and try to find a solution for your problems. When you paint a mental depiction of the solution, you will remember the details. Thus, you will be relaxed when you devise some solution.
11. Frequent episodes of nightmares may be a warning sign!!Experts suggest that frequent episodes of nightmares may be a warming sign or prediction for mental illness, psychosis, post traumatic stress disorder and sleep disturbances.
12. There is a way to stop nightmares!!If you can control the pessimistic thoughts and emotional stress, you can control the frequent episodes of nightmares. Moreover, some experts believe that through a process called “lucid dreaming”, you can stop the nightmares. It is about training your mind to be more conscious and aware while still in a dream. So, these were some exciting and interesting facts about nightmares. Stay tuned for more interesting content. . Pictures courtesy: