The science behind nightmares REVEALED – here’s what experts believe, including the most common scary dreams

IF you have frequent nightmares, you may be able to ease them – here’s what you need to know.

The study of dreams is complex, and there are still many things researchers don’t understand.

You may be able to ease your nightmares by changing your sleeping position


You may be able to ease your nightmares by changing your sleeping positionPhoto credit: Getty

what are dreams

Dreams are stories and images that our mind creates while we sleep.

According to Medical News Today, every person on the planet experiences at least three to six dreams a night, with each dream lasting around 5 to 20 minutes.

Dreams can be bizarre, romantic, whimsical, sexual and in some cases just plain scary – these are called “nightmares”.

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why do we dream

Sigmund Freud, one of the founding fathers of modern psychology, believed that dreams are a way for the mind to release suppressed thoughts and feelings, Scientific American found.

Today, however, researchers are divided on the subject — some think dreams have no meaning, while others believe it’s the brain’s subconscious process of uncovering emotions or mental trauma.

Nightmares in particular are a topic that confuses scientists, as they can be not only very confusing but also quite distressing.

Why do we have nightmares?

It’s hard to say why people have nightmares, even though we know they most often occur during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.

And while scientists can’t pinpoint the exact cause, they have been able to link several factors to an increased likelihood of having scary dreams.

These triggers include stress or anxiety, trauma, sleep deprivation, certain medications, substance abuse, and heavy consumption of scary books and movies, according to the Mayo Clinic.

In some cases, a person can have frightening dreams so often that they are diagnosed with “nightmare disorder.”

How can I stop having nightmares?

As far as scientists know, it is impossible to completely eliminate nightmares.

However, according to researchers at Harvard University, there are several ways to treat bad dreams, depending on the suspected cause.

“First, the cause of the stress, if any, must be determined. When a stressor is identified, effective ways to deal with it should be found,” the researchers explained.

“Drug-induced nightmares may require changing dosages or giving other drugs.”

Those with post-traumatic or chronic nightmares could benefit from psychological therapy.

And some studies have also found that people who suffer from nightmares may be able to reduce their discomfort by changing their sleeping position.

In particular, an associate professor at Hong Kong Yan University, Calvin Kai-Ching Yu, PhD, found that people who sleep on their back experience more nightmares and find it harder to remember their dreams.

“Different sleeping positions can put pressure on different parts of the body, and body feelings can be the source of dream elements,” Yu said.

Which side should I sleep on?

It is recommended that you sleep in the position that is most comfortable for you as you do not want to compromise your sleep quality.

one of dr However, a study led by Mehmet Yucel Agargun at YuZunCu Yil University found that people who sleep on their right side dream of safety and relief.

Meanwhile, sleeping on your left side can be associated with intense emotions and insecurity.

And if you’re a stomach sleeper, you might find that you’re more likely to have erotic dreams.

The most common scary dreams

While it’s not fun to have nightmares, it can be helpful to know that you are not alone when you experience scary dreams.

In fact, most of the nightmares people have are very common, provided they aren’t traumatized.

A study that surveyed 2,000 people found that the most common nightmare is falling.

A bare second was chased, followed by death and a sense of being lost.

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In places five and six, they feel trapped and under attack.

Rounding out the top ten nightmares are missing an important event, waking up late, the death of a loved one, and suffering an injury. The science behind nightmares REVEALED – here’s what experts believe, including the most common scary dreams

Chris Barrese

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