Sunday, July 15, 2018

Why do we have nightmares



What are nightmares?

Generally, nightmares are a normal reaction to stress and can be considered a therapeutic way for people to face issues and help themselves with unresolved traumatic experiences.  Nightmares are dreams that create fear and they tend to wake people up to avoid potential danger.  It is comment remember nightmares upon awakening.  Their unsettling nature can keep us from going back to sleep 

Why do we have nightmares?

The source of nightmares probably originates from an innate human mechanism that alerted our ancestors of potential dangers.  This internal alarm evolved to become a type of guard to remind us of certain issues.  On the other hand, this issue could be something only temporary that we may or may not need to face and then set aside.  

Nightmares are believed to occur in the brain’s frontal lobe, which manages negative emotions such as fear, stress, and anger. Therefore, nightmares can be a therapeutic way of confronting and working out negative issues. The only drawback is that if you can’t fall back to sleep after a nightmare, it can cloud your thinking and impair your social life and work productivity.

Types of nightmares

  1. Early morning nightmares that happen during REM sleep. Since REM sleep becomes gradually longer as the night progresses, it’s common to experience nightmares in the early morning hours.  Generally, we remember these types of nightmares and they may serve as a tool to remind us of a pending concern.

  1. Nightmares that occur during the first few hours after falling asleep are generally referred to as night terrors.  Mostly children between the ages of three and twelve. These terrors are experienced as feelings, not dreams, and many times children do not recall why they panicked upon abruptly awakening.  Needless to say, adults can also experience these types of horrific nightmares and steps can be taken to decrease their frequency.  

These are some of the factors that contribute to nightmares, one that may be somewhat easier to control is nighttime snacking.   You should abstain from eating after bedtime, of course, unless your doctor has otherwise indicated it.   When you eat can disrupt your natural body clock’s schedule —because you are inefficiently stressing your body to metabolize food to promote energy at the wrong time.

Talk to your physician about any prescriptions meds that may be contributing to your nightmares.  He or she may be able to prescribe an alternate drug.

Some of the drugs that can trigger nightmares are as follows:
Blood pressure medications
Alcohol (yes, that’s a drug)

Unresolved issues which are ingrained deep in your mind can be manifested in the form of nightmares:

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Sleep Apnea
Restless Leg Syndrome

Nightmares and lack of sleep contribute to a series of health issues and there are a number of steps you can take on your own to help reduce your nightmare occurrences. Maintain a regular Circadian rhythm by maintaining a regular sleeping schedule. So, try to go to sleep at the same time several nights a week. Regular exercise is also important to enhance sleep quality because it boosts your mood by releasing chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins are produced in the brain, spinal cord, and other parts of your body and act as analgesics and sedatives. These, in turn, are released to your brain allowing you to experience a natural high that is reflected during sleep. 

Meditation, yoga, and prayer are also natural therapeutic modes to help you release stress, declutter your mind, and become grounded. 
Hypnotherapy helps by solving past issues that keep popping up in your mind.  By using deep relaxation techniques, your mind is directed to find a resolution to the source of the issues that keep you from having a peaceful slumber.  

Let your imagination take over before bedtime.  As you lie in your bed, simply daydream about a “happy place” and let your mind remain there until you fall asleep. Sometimes listening to guided meditation recordings help.

Talking to friends can help too; this acts as an outlet for issues you unearth that can cause you to have recurring nightmares.  

Last but not least, confronting your fears before bedtime.  Try to realize those deep inside nightmares are just bad dreams and have no bearing on your safety and health.  This simply means to be mindful that a nightmare is only a way for you to envision current stresses in your life.

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