This post was last updated on July 2nd, 2019
Nightmares. We’ve all had them. Whether it was from your “favorite” horror movie or that creepy pedophile down the street, nightmares have always been an essential part of the human sleep cycle.
There are many aspects which differentiate a nightmare from a dream. The first (and most significant) aspect is that when you wake up from a dream, you go back to sleep to complete it. When you wake up from a nightmare, however, you cower in fear of the oncoming doom and pledge to never sleep again while downing forty cups of caffeine.
Nightmares can be traumatizing, sometimes even to the extent that they interfere with your personal life. And while a good nightmare can bring some juice to the otherwise bland act of sleeping, frequent nightmares can actually prevent sleep and be outright devastating. Which is why their control and containment is a must.
WHAT IS A NIGHTMARE?
Ah, yes. The age-old question. Why do we have dreams? Perhaps just as old as human comprehension. Maybe our ancestors didn’t put much thought into it, but modern theorists have hypothesized some possible causes. And they’re wild.
According to a study focusing on children, stress and child abuse can severely affect a child’s perception of the world, and the immense trauma can result in an increased amount of nightmares. Of course, who wouldn’t expect that when they kick their sons out of the house for liking boys or when they are belted for scoring bad grades?
Another theory is that nightmares are directly linked to sleep apnea or the condition in which oxygen supply during sleep gets temporarily cut off. Early nineteenth-century authors linked to sleep apnea to nightmares, and even though the theory has since been proven false, some psychologists still hold on to it. Perhaps classic theories just never die out.
Nightmares are, in effect, a bunch of random haphazard combinations of out-of-place images and memories, and while they pose no immediate harm, they can interrupt a healthy lifestyle and be devastating.
THE 3 MOST COMMON TYPES OF NIGHTMARES
Whatever the cause behind nightmares may be, we can all agree on one thing: everyone has them. With a population of over 7 billion going to sleep every night (not including the engineering students), it comes as no shock that we as a human cohesion have had dreams with similar plotlines. Maybe the Sandman is running out of ideas, or maybe it’s just that everyone watched the same horror movie that day. Whatever the reason, we have listed down below the top 3 dreams that people have frequently experienced.
- Being Chased:
Have you ever had the feeling that someone was stalking you all the way home? Maybe someone actually was. But being stalked or chased is a very common focus for most dreams. Whether it’s Jason or the constant overshadowing sense of responsibility, being chased can be traumatizing and can make you wake up in a cold sweat.
Experts say that this type of dream indicates a fear of confrontation of life’s obstacles and duties, but let’s not forget that these are the same experts who think that the alignment of planets in the sky corresponds to the number of babies you’ll have.
Ah, yes. The good old falling sensation. Have you ever had a dream where you’re doing something and then you fall? We can already see you nodding your heads. It comes as no surprise that the “falling sensation” is something that people from all over the world have experienced. The details may vary, but the basic theme is the same: you’re going about your day bickering with your co-workers when you suddenly just… fall. That’s it. It could be while getting off from the bed, or something as simple as climbing the stairs.
Nonetheless, the fall seems to go on for ages and is slightly over-exaggerated. Then you wake up screaming and thanking God that it wasn’t real. The “experts” say that a nightmare about falling is linked to real-world anxieties and trauma.
- Teeth Falling Out:
Who doesn’t love teeth? The bacteria inside your mouth sure do. Dreams about your teeth falling out are quite common, and just as traumatizing. Legend has it that if you stand in front of a mirror in one of your dreams, your teeth will start falling off piece by piece. We’ve all seen this dream at least once in our lives. And who knows? Maybe the experts are right on this one, as they say, that a dream about teeth falling is linked to inner turmoil and a constant fear of judgment. And who isn’t victim to that these days?
5 TIPS TO PREVENT NIGHTMARES
Falling teeth or Jason-on-the-run, no one likes nightmares. And perhaps a few nightmares may be tolerable, but when these nightmares and their after-effects start interfering with your personal life, you know things are for real. There comes a time when nightmares deserve a farewell, and you deserve a healthier sleep-cycle. Thus we present to you: 5 ways to make your sleep boring but tastefully peaceful.
- Treat any underlying disorders:
While nightmares are a common experience, certain nightmares can even be provoked by underlying conditions such as sleep apnea, narcolepsy, PTSD, or restless leg syndrome. Consulting your doctor for immediate treatment can be a starter, and when followed by occasional cognitive therapy can prove to be successful in reducing, if not eliminating, your nightmares.
Your nightmares may be related to anxiety, stress, and depression, and certain forms of therapies and medications can improve the quality of your dreams. So you can sleep peacefully and be prepared for the dreaded day afterward.
Among others, perhaps the biggest cause of frequent nightmares is stress. Whether from an actual mental disorder or a temporary feeling of anxiety, stress can be one of the most major factors in determining whether you’ll fall asleep peacefully or not. A talk with your therapist or taking certain over-the-counter medications can help reduce stress after a long day of work. Another option is to try yoga and other forms of meditation. Both of the latter and the former have proved to be successful in resetting your sleep cycle and promoting good thoughts while you nap in your comforter.
Another important factor is to surround yourself with positive ad non-toxic people. Mental disorders like anxiety, depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are also linked to a high intensity of nightmares. But then again, if you had any of those you wouldn’t be on the internet reading about nightmares.
- Avoid certain medications:
While medications can be helpful in curing certain disorders, it is best to consult with your doctor and find out if any medications you’re taking could be causing the nightmares. Certain types of anti-depressants and blood pressure medications can cause dreadful dreams. These medications should be used in moderate quantities and under a doctor’s prescription.
While you shouldn’t stop taking them without notice, you should definitely have a word with your doctor or local therapist. Perhaps these medications are the root cause of your disturbed sleep. Another option would be to negotiate with your doctor to prescribe alternatives for the medication. But under all circumstances, you must follow his/her/their directives.
- Improve Sleep:
Better sleeping conditions contribute to better dreams. Avoid eating right before bed, and always make sure your bed is clean and comfortable. Turn on the heat or the air conditioning if the temperature is a bit distasteful. Nightmares may cause sleep deprivation, but it works the other way around as well. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep and not staying up all night doing math (engineering students can relate to this).
A healthy person is not a sleep-deprived person. Compromise on your studies and your job and dedicate more time to sleeping enough. An environment free of distractions and negativities will promote positive dreams and a healthier lifestyle.
- Talk to someone or write it out:
While nightmares can be traumatizing, talking to someone about them can ease the pain. Humans are (mostly) social creatures, and conversation can soothe stress and trauma caused by bad dreams. If you have a close friend or a guardian who is willing to listen to you, make the most of them. Tell them about your dreams and how they seem to be affecting you. If you cannot find someone to share your feelings with or want to stay private enough to not tell anyone, you can always try writing them down.
Writing out your nightmares helps you maintain your sanity and makes you realize that bad dreams are all but another random combination of sounds and images. Keeping a dream journal by your side can be helpful. Write out your nightmare in the diary and see if it makes sense. If it doesn’t, congratulations. You’ve just figured out what a dream is. But be careful, because dreams are easy to forget, even if their intense aura still lingers by.
Nightmares may be scary, but they are no doubt anything that you can’t stand up to. After all, who has the rights to mess with your sleep-cycle? Bad dreams are trying to interfere with your daily life. You won’t let your mother-in-law tell you what to do. Why then let some random pictures and memories do the same? This article may be of use, but both of us know that absolutely nothing will make a difference until you start incorporating them into your daily lives.
All in all, nightmares shrink in comparison to all your other worries and anxieties. Am I right, depression?
Did these tips work out? Got some more? Let us know in the comments below. And if you know a friend who suffers from nightmares, don’t forget to SHARE.