Nightmares Causes and its Avoidance

In the past I used to have all sorts of weird dreams with no connection to real life and to top it up, I used to remember all those like a movie. Every time I had such dreams, my mother and sister were the only listeners as they used to enjoy my dreams. But I have never taken those dreams seriously and hence they never disturbed me. But why do we get such dreams which are at a far distance from reality and not at all related to our life or personality?

Nightmares are essentially bad or unpleasant dreams that can even scare you and make you upset. When we sleep, our brain goes through various sleep stages and one of these is Rapid Eye Movement (REM) in which our eye moves back and forth. REM is the stage when we have dreams and sometime bad dreams. After every 90 minutes, our brain switches between REM and Non-REM sleep so we may have a dream in every REM and the longest one is close to morning. This is the reason why we have bad dreams in the morning not mid night. So do not believe that morning dreams will bring bad luck as this is a natural phenomenon.

Nightmares, on the contrary help in relieving the pressure and can be triggered by anything like stress of studies, school, home or social circle. Reading scary books or watching scary movies, sudden death of someone at home or movement may also cause nightmares. If you are on medications then you may have nightmares. Eating just before going to bed is one of the causes of nightmares as it increases the brain activity. Even if your sleep posture is not comfortable you will have nightmares. Having nightmares once in a while is a very normal phenomenon.

Now how the word nightmare came into existence? The term ‘Mare’  has been derived from the Old English word ‘mare’, who was a mythological devil who used to give pain to human beings in the form of frightening dreams. The word “Night” was added to differentiate the demon Mare, from a female horse.

Many studies have shown that 75% of our dreams and emotions are negative. Young kids above the age of five and teenagers are more prone to nightmares than adults and these are more common in girls as compared to boys.

How to avoid nightmares?

  • The best way to get rid of nightmares is to follow a specific sleep pattern. Try getting to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time in the morning. If possible try not to sleep during day time as if you have the habit of taking a nap then you might not get a sound sleep at night.
  • Create a secure environment in room. Keep the things that you like and remove all those which you do not like.
  • Try not to sleep in a complete dark room. Instead of this, use night lamp so as to wake up in a familiar environment after nightmare.
  • Share your dreams with elders or your dear one. This will help you in forgetting these within no time. But talk to one who is willing to listen to you and take you seriously, instead of getting irritated by your dreams.
  • Follow a fitness routine. Exercise or go for a walk. With this you will be able to sleep faster and have more deep sleep.
  • Do not consume an excess of tea, coffee or alcohol.
  • Give time to your hobbies.
  • You need to contact your doctor if the frequency of nightmares is more than a week or these are hindering you in enjoying normal sleep. Tell your doctor if you have started any medicine recently as it may cause nightmares.
  • Above all, do not be scare of nightmares as dreams are just dreams and nothing else. So just relax, forget about them and be happy.