Why do we get nightmares?

By October 31, 2016Sleep

Sometimes, our mind’s movie reel can put the likes of Stephen King to shame: lost in the mountains, falling off a cliff, being terrified but unable to move or scream, being chased by a notorious baddie 인시디어스2 다운로드. If you spent your weekend watching horror-films, you may have had some retty nasty nightmares. But why do we get them when we don’t watch any scary movies? More importantly – how can we make them stop?

What do the stats say?

While we might know for certain that monsters don’t exist, there isn’t much about nightmares we can be equally as sure about. And there’s a good reason for that. It’s an area of neuroscience and psychology that’s hard to study, since each of us experiences a unique dream world that’s inherently subjective and hard to document. That said, what has emerged is a few common themes:

  • Surveys suggest that 85% of adults report at least one nightmare the previous year.
  • 8-29% of adults have monthly nightmares, and 2-6% report weekly nightmares.
  • Physical aggression and fear are the most common things we dream about.
  • For men, natural disasters and war give them the cold sweats, while for women, interpersonal conflict is the stuff that their nightmares are made of.

What causes dreams?

Once we enter REM sleep, which is when dreaming takes place, the brain is works differently to how it does during the day (hey, everyone needs a break!). While you sleep, certain parts of the brain slow down, while others speed up. So instead of thinking in literal terms and words that you would during the day, you think in pictures, symbols and emotions. For most people, dreams tend to incorporate aspects of their waking lives. Certain medications, stress, movies or traumatic events could trigger nightmares.

On top of that, anything that interferes with good quality sleep could also set you up for an emotional roller-coaster. For example, temperatures that are too cold or too hot, as well as pain can wake you up more often,  more awakenings (meaning more remembered dreams), as can pain.

Make the bad dreams stop!

Read  What keeps you awake at night?

If you wake up due to nightmares more often that you’d like, or if you’re struggling to shake them off, there are a few things you can try to banish them from your bedroom:

1. Eliminate triggers:

  • Stamp out your stress: try some belly breathing or meditation before bed.
  • Don’t eat before bed: food can speed up your metabolism, which makes your brain more active during sleep.
  • Stay away from scary stories, horror movies and these days… the night time news!

2. Practice good sleep hygiene:

  • Keep a consistent bedtime routine
  • Go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day
  • Ensure your bedroom is cool, dark and quiet
  • Put your day to bed before you put yourself to bed: don’t take unresolved fights, spreadsheets or bills into bed with you
  • Turn off all gizmos and gadgets at least an hour before you hit the hay (the stuff you see on Facebook these days is scary!)
  • Write it out: keep a pencil and some paper next to you bed and write down what you can remember. This gives you the opportunity to create your OWN, logical ending, rather than the one where you were frozen in time

When do I need to see a doctor?

  • Some medications can trigger nightmares. Talk to your doctor about your nightmares, and he/she could change the type or dosage of medication, to get you back to a good night’s sleep.
  • Do you have depression, anxiety or PTSD? These mental health conditions can lead to more frequent nightmares. If you haven’t been diagnosed with any of these, it may be helpful to chat to your doctor, and get the appropriate treatment.
  • Other medical conditions like sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome can also lead to nightmares, and will need medical treatment.
  • Night terrors is also often confused with nightmares, but they are treated differently. Read more about them here.

To find out if you may need treatment for any of these, log into the app and talk to one of ours doctors, so we can help you get back your beauty-sleep!