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Usually there is a flood of relief when you wake up from a blood rushing nightmare, safe and in a somewhat sane world. Some want these to stop, but others find them intriguing. There are many different classifications of dreams all from nightmares to night terrors. They all happen at different points in your sleep and affect everyone differently. Nightmares are just dreams with frightening stories, and are extremely common, affecting almost everybody at some point.
Nightmares are experienced during the rapid eye movement phase while sleeping, which occurs at the end of the sleep cycle. In the majority of cases out there, this usually is not a serious problem. Scary dreams are to be expected here and there, especially if we have witnessed or experienced something upsetting during the day. These bad dreams can can be associated with poor sleep and a sluggish day time performance. However, recurring nightmares are the most noticeable symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder and be associated with other mental illness. A dream is the recollection of mental activity that has occurred previously during sleep.
Sleep is divided into 4 stages which include; sleep onset, light sleep, deep sleep, and the non rapid eye movement otherwise known as REM. This REM sleep usually occurs every 90 minutes in a nights sleep and is known to be associated with high brain activity, rapid movement of the eyes, and suppressed voluntary motor activity. This can occur is all stages of sleep. The dreams of stages one and two tend to be simple and short, far different from REM sleep. While we do have nightmares, there’s a sort of dream that tends to be even worse: night terrors. These “night terrors” are nocturnal episodes of extreme fright and panic that occur usually early in the sleeping period. They can be similar to other arousal disorders that occur like sleep walking. These frightening dreams are most common in in children and can lessen in adulthood. Adults who do have night terrors are more than likely to have psychopathology, mainly substance abuse and affective disorders. The best way to prevent nightmares is to practice good sleep hygiene, which will help prevent sleep deprivation. In some cases medications may be used in conjunction with therapy to treat PTSD related nightmares/terrors.
There can be a number of psychological triggers that cause these scary dreams, anxiety and depression medications can also be a helpful tactics trying to prevent this. There are many reasons as to why we have nightmares and post traumatic stress seems to be the biggest one. People who have been through major life altering events are often haunted by fear and anxiety even while they sleep. There are even some medications that disrupt different hormones and neurotransmitters that regulate REM sleep which leads to terrifying dreams. People with psychological disorders are also prone to having nightmares. Having any of these are not fun, but some people enjoy the rush they get.
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