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Experts reveal the reasons behind nightmares

Alina MilsentNews
Why people have nightmares

Nightmares have been the subject of research for centuries: some have given them a mystical meaning, accepting them as a warning of trouble, while others have explained everything with psychoanalysis. There can be many reasons for nightmares: from ordinary stress at work to long-term mental disorders.

Scientists shared their thoughts on why we have nightmares. The details were provided by I News.

Nightmares can be realistic and surreal. In both cases, they make you wake up in a cold sweat and with a sense of fear.

Scientists from Harvard Medical School reassure us with a simple definition, "Nightmares are just dreams that cause a strong but unpleasant emotional reaction."

Nightmares usually occur during REM sleep. It can be recognized by external signs:

  • rapid eye movements;
  • irregular heartbeat;
  • frequent breathing.

A person has four to five short periods of REM sleep every night. Nightmares most often occur when REM intervals are lengthened.

The terrifying images created by the subconscious and imagination are usually very vivid and memorable during this period.

Researchers disagree about why we actually dream. Neurologist Sigmund Freud believed that dreams are a way to get rid of repressed thoughts and feelings. Some scientists believe that dreams have no meaning at all and that we should not try to solve them.

Nightmares can be caused by various reasons:

  • stress and anxiety;
  • irregular sleep;
  • reading a scary book or watching a horror movie before going to bed;
  • taking certain medications;
  • mental disorders.

One of the causes of nightmares is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Nightmares are one of the criteria for diagnosing the disorder.

A study by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine found that 80% of people with post-traumatic stress disorder often have nightmares.

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