Have you ever woken up gasping, your heart hammering in your chest, your hands shaking and sweat running down your back and your forehead? That is probably because you had a nightmare. Nightmares are quite common, in the sense that every single one of us has had a nightmare at some point in their lives. Nightmares are usually defined as ‘scary dreams’, and can severely disturb one’s sleeping patterns. Just like there is a significance to dreams, there is a significance to nightmares too!
There are two types of nightmares: garden-variety nightmares and post traumatic nightmares.
Why do we have nightmares?
Unlike what many people may think, nightmares can be beneficial to our health, whether they are garden-variety or post traumatic.
Nightmares are necessary for healthy sleep
Nightmares have been shown to be necessary for many reasons.
- First of all, just like dreams, in general, nightmares are a way for you to get to learn more about yourself. Each nightmare has a meaning and each nightmare is a way for your body, your mind and your subconscious to tell you something about yourself.
- Secondly, nightmares can be a huge source of inspiration, as they usually are organized as a story with its own plot and very graphic images. Many artists have produced art based on their own nightmares, as the universes seen in such dreams go beyond one’s imagination and can be borderline fascinating – despite being scary.
- Nightmares are a way for your mind to train you for further incidents that may eventually happen in the future.
- Nightmares happen frequently to people who suffer from PTSD or other disorders like anxiety and depression. It is a way for your subconscious to make you live again and again what is causing In you the anxious feelings, in order for you to get used to them and be more and more exposed to them so that you can overcome them.
Effects of nightmares on your health
It may be true that as stated above, nightmares can have a positive impact on you. However, nightmares can also be linked to many negative consequences on your body and may hinder not only your sleep, but your well-being in general.
- Nightmares can be one of the many reasons of sleep deprivation, which we have talked about in this article talking about lack of sleep and the benefits of adjustable beds. Some people who cannot tolerate the anxious feelings brought upon them by nightmares start avoiding going to bed in order not to dream, which ends up in a dangerous condition of lack of sleep.
- Nightmares are mainly characterized by the intense fear one can feel during their sleep. Naturally, that ends up leading to a very restless, fitful dream, since the emotions are felt and deeply affect the mind. Hormones like adrenaline are produced, which is kind of not compatible with the resting, calm and peaceful side of sleep. This explains why people who experience nightmares tend to sleep less than people who don’t.
- It has been shown that nightmares have been linked to suicide, even if the relationship isn’t clear yet.
When the effects of nightmares get out of hands, it is important to fight treatments.
How to treat nightmares and their negative side effects?
When nightmares become repetitive and affect your health, here are some ways to handle them:
- The first basic step you should take to prevent nightmares would be setting a comfortable sleep routine. You can check on our websites the different ways to improve the quality of your sleep. You can also try to invest in an adjustable bed that works like magic on your sleep. If you are interested, don’t hesitate to read our Sleep Number Bed Review.
- Understanding the meaning of your nightmares may help with accepting them, which makes them automatically less scary, and even chase them away once and for all.
- Writing your nightmares down may be helpful for you to decipher them. It also can help you get them out of your brain, and take a more objective look at them, lessening thus the fear and the panic.
- It is possible to change the ending of your nightmares, so that they can become less frightening. In order to do that, you can try to imagine during daytime the ending you would like for your nightmare. Doing this task everyday will eventually lead to your nightmares changing, enabling you to sleep more peacefully.
- If your nightmares are caused by medication, try to talk to your doctor. You may find a way to reduce the dosage of your medication.
- If your nightmares are caused by other mental disorders, it is only natural for you to treat your mental illnesses in order to prevent those nightmares.
- Finally, if you can’t find any solution to stop your nightmares, make sure to get professional help!
In conclusion, nightmares are not as bad as we think they are. Don’t panic just because you have one every now and again; it’s just part of normal physiology!