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June 22, 2017

Why do we have Nightmares? Common Scientific Reasons

Why do we have nightmares?

The definition of a nightmare is a really bad and distressing dream that causes a strong feeling of ear. A nightmare quickens a person’s pulse and makes them sweat. Sometimes, the sleeper feels so frightened and threatened that they wake up. Sleep expert estimates that 30 to 50 percent of all kids have some nightmares, but luckily, they usually grow out of them. The most common nightmare I had as a kid was that of being chased, but I can’t recall why I was being pursued.

Nightmares can be fairly long and complex. The person senses a threat to safety of life. As the threat increases, so does the sense of fear. A person tends to wake up just as the threat or danger reaches its peak.

About 3 percent of young adults have frequent nightmares. One in two adults has a nightmare on occasion. An estimated 2 to 8 percent of adults are plagues with frequent nightmares. Stress, depression, and anxiety are commonly associated with nightmares in adults. A major life-changing event can cause them such as loss of a job, financial worries, marital difficulties, death of a spouse, or moving to another house. Alcohol abuse or abrupt withdrawal from alcohol can also lead to nightmares.

Nightmares in child

Rapid Eye Movement REM & Nightmares

Nightmares occur during the rapid eye movement phase of sleep. REM is about two hours of a normal night’s sleep, but other phases of sleep break that time up into four or five episodes. REM phases become progressively longer as the night progresses, and so you may find you experience nightmares most often in the early-morning hours of REM sleep. One can have four to five episodes of REM but still usually have nightmares in the later stages of sleep.

Some Common Reasons of Nightmares

Traumatic experience, such as surgery, brain injury, war and combat with their attendant post-traumatic stress disorder can bring on nightmares. Stress is though to be the most common source of nightmares, so relaxation techniques, such as yoga and meditation have proven helpful. And eating right before going to bed can increase the frequency of nightmares, since eating increases metabolism and brain activity.

There is no diagnostic test for nightmares. Persistent disorders surface when people report them to a family doctor or a psychiatrist.

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