An estimated 2% to 8% of adults can't get rest because terrifying dreams wreak havoc on their sleeping patterns. In particular, nightmares can be an indicator of mental health problems, such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.
Indeed, studies suggest that nightmares are often linked to unmet psychological needs and/or frustration with life experiences. Yet those links aren't always easy to make—except in cases of trauma (discussed below), our nightmares tend to reflect our troubles through metaphor rather than literal representation.
For some people, medicines, alcohol, drugs, lack of sleep, fever, or anxiety sometimes cause nightmares. Often, though, nightmares seem to be triggered by emotional issues at home or school, major life changes (such as a move), trauma, and stress — even if what happens in the nightmares seems unrelated to your life.
Keep in mind that no matter how scary a nightmare is, it's not real and most likely won't happen to you in real life.
Nightmares can arise for a number of reasons—stress, anxiety, irregular sleep, medications, mental health disorders—but perhaps the most studied cause is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
It often helps to tell a trusted adult about your bad dreams. Just talking about what happened might make you feel better. If something has been troubling you during the day, talking about those feelings also may help.
1. Being chased. Being chased is one of the most common nightmares. If you dream that you're being chased by something, whether it's an 8-foot-tall rabbit or a shrouded figure, then it's an indicator that you're running away from something or someone in real life.
Your brain is in a semi-awake/semi-asleep state: Part of it is still in rapid eye movement, or REM, sleep—the deep stage of sleep where our brain is more active, allowing for intense dreams. As you begin to rouse, the dream-like imagery of REM sleep intrudes into your waking state.
Recurring nightmares usually have an underlying cause. Sometimes, this cause can be related to stress or anxiety, medication use, or even substance abuse. If you feel that recurring nightmares are affecting your quality of life, reach out to a doctor or mental health professional.
Nightmares can be triggered by many factors, including: Stress or anxiety. Sometimes the ordinary stresses of daily life, such as a problem at home or school, trigger nightmares. A major change, such as a move or the death of a loved one, can have the same effect.
Domhoff also emphasized that while dreams can have meaning, his research suggests they aren't symbolic. During sleep, people don't appear to be able to access the parts of the brain involved with understanding or generating metaphors, he said.
Having frequent nightmares that cause major distress, anxiety around sleeping, fatigue, and problems concentrating during the day can indicate nightmare disorder, which is when your bad dreams are happening often or severely enough to affect your life.
"If you wake from a nightmare and have difficulty falling back asleep, get out of bed, do something soothing like a few yoga poses or find a place to sit, close your eyes, and try a breathing technique or relaxation exercise."
"The good news is that nightmares aren't as serious as a heart attack," said Michael Grandner, director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona in Tucson, who studies sleep's effect on cardiovascular issues. "But they're also not nothing."
Sleepwalking, yelling in your sleep, violently thrashing in bed and hurting those you love. No, it's not a demonic possession; it is REM sleep behavior disorder, or RBD. RBD is a sleep disorder that common presents itself in older men and causes people who suffer from it to physically act out their dreams.
Some general causes of nightmares and anxiety dreams include: fear or stress. recent life changes, especially ones that provoke uncertainty or other distress. traumatic events.
Sleep terrors differ from nightmares. The dreamer of a nightmare wakes up from the dream and may remember details, but a person who has a sleep terror episode remains asleep. Children usually don't remember anything about their sleep terrors in the morning.
Nightmares about falling were followed closely by dreams about being chased (more than 63 percent). Other distressing nightmares included death (roughly 55 percent), feeling lost (almost 54 percent), feeling trapped (52 percent), and being attacked (nearly 50 percent).
Nightmares, dreams and other sleep disturbances are a common symptom of complex trauma with nightmares recognised as a principal feature of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The treatment of nightmares not only alleviates those symptoms but is shown to help reduce PTSD symptoms in general.
No, we should never ignore bad dreams. We give priority in our dreams to things that seem to be a threat to our wellbeing, or even potentially our lives. For instance, children who grow up in violent homes are likely to have quite severe nightmares.
Nightmares are scary dreams that often happen during the second half of the night when dreaming is most intense. Children may start having nightmares as young as 6 months of age. They tend to peak between 3 and 12 years old. Children may wake up crying or feeling afraid and may have trouble falling back to sleep.
This is why it's important to “reclaim sleep” after a nightmare and work on decreasing nightmares overall. Research shows that high-stress levels can contribute to high frequencies of nightmares, which is why relaxation is recommended.