What did you dream last night? Was it a good dream, a scary dream or you can't remember? The phenomenon behind dreams remains a mystery to many of us. While some dreams are peaceful, you may experience nightmares that cause anxiety and fear.
Most of our dreams feel real and can trigger your deepest fear. Psychologists report that nightmares are not limited to children alone. About 50% of adults experience nightmares every night. While there are so many theories regarding why we dream, we will look at what science says regarding dreams and especially nightmares. What causes nightmares and how you can deal with them? Find out more!
What is a nightmare?
Scientists say that a nightmare is an intense feeling of a bad dream that affects your sleeping patterns. Unlike most good dreams that we tend to forget sometimes, it is hard to forget a nightmare.
As you sleep, your brain is active consuming more energy than during wakefulness. The rapid eye movement that happens as you sleep causes the brain waves to portray some activities that are similar to when you are awake. This is what makes you feel as if the dream was reel.
In this state, your brain continues to send commands to the motor cortex for you to move around in your dream. Sleep has two stages and nightmares often happen during the second stage of your sleep.
Some theories state that you dream is due to your brain managing sub-conscious feelings. Others say that learned information causes dreams. According to theories by scientists, chemical signals affect your brain activities leading to dreams.
What factors trigger nightmares?
Surprisingly, research shows that women experience different themes of nightmares from men. A survey conducted by the University of Montreal reported that most men have nightmares connected to disasters and wars.
Women, on the other hand, have nightmares related to interpersonal conflicts. Since women are more emotional than men, they tend to dream more about sad occurrences such as breakups, the death of close family members as well as being chased by strangers. Even though this may be the case, some triggers can cause such nightmares. These include:
What you go through in your everyday life can sometimes manifest itself in your dreams. For instance, your dream can be about a problem you are yet to solve or a negative aspect of your life that you may be struggling with.
Most people that have anxiety disorders are likely to experience nightmares. Any form of stress such as a significant change in your life like a divorce or a traumatic experience can affect your dreams. Most students have nightmares regarding failing exams or getting expelled from school due to such fears.
What you watch in the media can also affect your sleep. People who are not used to horror movies can have nightmares. The visual images from the media can form part of your dream content and trigger a nightmare. This mostly affects young people such as teenagers who report dreams that come with disturbing sounds, injury as well as bloody content.
Your personality can also affect your dream patterns. For instance, people who alienate themselves or are distrustful are likely to experience nightmares. Highly- creative people can also translate this into their dreams.
Drugs and medication
Medicines that have an impact on the neurotransmitters can trigger nightmares. Drugs such as narcotics also affect the Rapid eye movement and cause nightmares.
How do you cope with nightmares?
Observe sleep hygiene
The environment is also a factor that can affect your dreams. Make sure that where your sleep is peaceful enough to give you high-quality sleep free from bad dreams. You can start by adjusting the temperature in your bedroom, getting rid of alarm clocks as well as using a hammock as your bed. These will make you relax all through the night and give you pleasant dreams with nothing triggering a nightmare.
Handle daytime stressors
Sometimes, you may experience tough days that may affect your sleep. Prevent this by using distressing mechanisms such as calm music, meditation or breathing techniques before bedtime. All this can relax your muscles, minimize your stress levels and make you have sound dreams.
Avoid substance abuse
Drugs not only destroy your organs but also give you nightmares in your sleep. Xanax and alcohol interfere with your sleeping mechanisms and give you hallucinations in your sleep. Changing this habit with the help of professionals at https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/xanax-addiction/ will prevent you from addiction and give you better sleep.
Use imagery rehearsal treatment
If traumatic experiences are manifesting themselves in nightmares, you need this form of therapy. It involves you rewriting your dream so that you can identify what exactly triggers it to find ways to get past it. A sleep specialist can take you through it.
Change your nightmare to art
Art can help you know your fears. Drawing can help you understand it better and express it to recover from a recurring nightmare. You can also do this through dancing, writing a poem, singing, blogging as well as making a sculpture.
Adjust your eating habits
Do not eat right before bedtime. Doctors recommend that you take your meals hours before sleeping. Eating makes your metabolism fast making your body to send signals to your mind. When your brain is more active than usual at night, you are likely to experience a nightmare. Cut down on sugary snacks such as chocolates especially at night.
Talk to a doctor about a change of medication
If the medications you are taking are the cause of your nightmares, your doctor can always substitute them with those that don't react on your neurotransmitters. Less dosage can also help if there is no substitute for your condition.
People have different opinions about why nightmares occur, but the underlying factor is that you can manipulate them and change them into pleasant dreams. Express them out in a way that you feel comfortable as you use the strategies above to improve your sleep thoughts. We wish you a good, peaceful night!