What bad dreams mean in the morning

Nightmares: Causes and Remedies

This is how nightmares arise

Nightmares are very bad, terrifying, disturbing dreams. They can work so intensely that the sleeper wakes up bathed in sweat, has a racing heart and has difficulty falling asleep again. Typically, those affected remember the content of the nightmare.

Causes of the nightly bad trip can be, for example, the following:

  • Frightening or traumatizing experiences in the past such as a serious accident or the death of a loved one.
  • Sleep deprivation, lack of sleep, and an irregular sleep pattern also increase the likelihood of having nightmares.
  • People with post-traumatic stress disorder also often have nightmares - they should seek psychological help.
  • Those who suffer from depression or other mental illnesses are also at an increased risk of nightmares.
  • In addition, some drugs, such as those for high blood pressure and Parkinson's, trigger anxiety dreams.
  • Alcohol and other drugs can also lead to nightmares, as can sleeping pills and pain pills.
  • In children, something they saw on TV can cause nightmares. If the offspring is plagued by bad dreams, not watching TV often helps to put an end to the evil.

Even if they are uncomfortable, nightmares are perfectly normal as long as they do not occur too often and are not too stressful. And: Usually a nightmare has no meaning. At least not a concrete one in the sense of a dark premonition or the like.

Different studies about nightmares indicate rather that they simulate dangerous situations and thereby train the ability of the dreaming to recognize the same in real life and to avoid it.

What to do about nightmares

First of all, it is often helpful to create conditions under which you can sleep as well as possible. To the so-called Sleep hygiene include, for example, a quiet, dark, cool bedroom and no more online time right before bed.

But that alone does not usually stop nightmares. To get them under control, it often helps to write down the nightmare the next morning. This can be done in writing, spoken on a dictation machine or using special questionnaires.

Tip: Put a piece of paper and pen or dictation machine next to the bed so that you can capture your dream the next morning.

The "Imagery Rehearsal Therapy" or short IRT. With this, you don't just write down the nightmare, but turn it or the passages that scared you into positive thoughts.

It is important that the new version is as similar as possible to the original nightmare so that the good dream can "overwrite" the bad dream. With this form of therapy you usually have a therapist at your side who will guide and support you.

Nightmares in children

Often the nightmares begin in children between the ages of three and six and subside by the age of ten.

But there is also the so-called Nightmare, also Night terrors, Night terrors or "Pavor nocturnus" called. Children of toddler and preschool age in particular start screaming loudly at night.

The night terrors have nothing to do with nightmares. In the first half of the night, a purely physical activation takes place from deep sleep - and not as in a dream from the dream phase.

The heart begins to beat faster, the sleeper becomes restless, startled. In contrast to the nightmare, the child is not fully awake and accordingly appears confused.

It cannot be calmed down and may even kick out. After a few minutes the ghost is usually over, the child wakes up, pulse and breathing normalize. Usually the children cannot remember what happened the next day.

The cause is unknown. In addition to a genetic cause, experts also suspect unresolved problems that manifest themselves in this way.

A person's maturation process may also play a role. This is supported by the fact that it mainly affects children and only a few adults. If nightmare occurs in adults, there may be illness or stress behind it. A sleep laboratory can help determine the cause in this case.

Nightmares and dreams: nothing but ghosts

What feels completely real in a dream turns out to be a pipe dream when you wake up. And anyone who thinks they seldom dream is wrong. Usually a person spends up to a quarter of the night dreaming.

Because each deep sleep phase is interrupted by four to five dream sleep phases. These come back every 90 minutes and lengthen over the course of the night. At dawn, the dream phases are only interrupted by light sleep.

Because of this, it is easier for people to remember the dream immediately after waking up in the morning.

REM - nocturnal people

The body is particularly active during a dream phase. Breathing is irregular, heart rate fluctuates, and blood pressure rises. The blood supply to the brain and sexual organs is improved, and the cortisol level drops.

Experts also call this sleep phase REM sleep ("rapid eye movement"). Because it is characteristic that the sleeper's eyes move quickly from right to left behind the closed lids.

Why do people dream

There are many theories as to why a person dreams. Sleep researchers assume that the brain reorganizes its storage space during sleep. Others suspect that people deal with stressful daily events in their sleep or try to develop solutions to problems which, however, are often not feasible in reality.

The dream images arise because the so-called secondary visual cortex in the brain is active during sleep. In the waking state, it helps to evaluate impressions and information.

In sleep, everything that people have experienced and seen is looked at again. Since the eyes are closed, the stored information from the brain is put together to form an internal, new image - a beautiful one or just one nightmare.

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