What are Nightmares? Definition
What is a nightmare? Definition of a nightmare: A nightmare is a terrifying or deeply upsetting dream of particular intensity causing strong feelings of fear, horror and distress. About 5% - 10% of adults have nightmares once a month or more frequently.
What cause Nightmares in Adults?
What cause nightmares? Why do nightmares happen? Nightmares are related either to physiological causes, such as a high fever, or to psychological ones, such as unusual trauma or stress in the dreamer's life. The nightmares which are related to real life trauma or stress fall under a special category called Post-traumatic stress nightmare (PSN). This type of nightmare is an indication of a fear that needs to be acknowledged and confronted. Nightmares in adults can also reflect the frightening elements from our imagination or stimulated by watching movies or television, reading books or even playing computer games. Fearfulness in waking life is correlated with the incidence of nightmares. Recent studies suggest that adults who have frequent nightmares tend to be more open, sensitive and emotional than average.
Why do Nightmares happen? What are the effects?
Why do nightmares happen? What are the effects? A Nightmare may be a way to relieve the pressures of the day and help us cope with real life stress. Scientists speculate that nightmares purge the brain of memories or associations which trigger fear.
What is the most common nightmare theme? Studies have identified common reported themes in nightmares dreams include situations relating to school, being chased, sexual experiences, falling, arriving late, death, teeth falling out, flying and car accidents. Young adults are often subject to nightmares.
Nightmares in Children - Night Terrors
Nightmares, or night terrors, are common in children generally beginning at the age of 2 and occurring up to ages of 6. A night terror, also known as pavor nocturnus, is a parasomnia sleep disorder which is characterized by extreme terror and a temporary inability to regain full consciousness. When night terrors are experienced the child wakes abruptly and their wakening is accompanied by gasping, moaning, or screaming. This can be accompanied by hallucination where the child believes that they can actually see the subject of their night terror. Night terrors are often caused by stress during the previous day. A high fever are thought to precipitate most incidents of night terrors. A child does not fully wake up during these incidents and will therefore not remember the incident in the morning.
Stopping nightmares can be difficult as they are out of our control. Purge yourself of the nightmare by discussing what happened in detail with your family or friends and/or writing down the details of the nightmare. Listed below are some measures that you can take to help with stopping nightmares:
- Establish a regular sleep pattern and make sure you are getting sufficient sleep
- Cut out alcohol, drugs and cigarettes
- Cut out any drinks which contain caffeine
- Drink a warm, milky drink before going to bed
- Do not go to bed feeling hungry, but make sure that you do not eat foods that are difficult to digest
- Avoid scary movies and reading scary books
- Do not play computer games before sleep
- Do not work before going to sleep - you need to be in a relaxed state
- Get some exercise during the day
- Sweet Dreams!
A Nightmare can also be prompted by some medicines and even stopping certain medications suddenly may cause nightmares. In such cases it is advisable to discuss with your doctor the effect of any drugs or medications you are taking.
Meanings of Nightmares
Click one of the following links to find out the meanings of different nightmare types: