May 19, 2024

Why We Have Nightmares

Nightmares are something everyone experiences at least once in their life. Some are worse than others and stem from past experiences or fears in general. Some of these dreams are vividly realistic and disturbing, this can be hard to deal with since we can’t control what we dream or how it plays out.

Just like most dreams nightmares occur during rapid eye movement or REM sleep. Dreams occur because of the brains electrical activity during sleep. Nightmares also tend to be most prevalent in the early mornings because of the REM becoming longer. Having a late night snack can trigger nightmares as it speeds the metabolism and causes the brain to be more active. A number of drugs are also correlated to nightmares such as blood pressure medications, anti-depressants, and narcotics.

There are many psychological triggers that cause nightmares like PTSD which can cause constant recurring nightmares. Sleeping less also won’t help as sleep deprivation is also linked to nightmares which can lead to sleeping disorders. Underlying disorders that could cause nightmares if left untreated can worsen mental health so it is best to see a therapist if too severe.

Ways to help combat nightmares could include:

  • Getting a normal sleep schedule
  • Cutting out caffeine
  • Exercising during the day but not right before sleep
  • Relaxing before falling asleep this includes staying away from violent or scary movies