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Why Do We Have Nightmares and What Can We Do To Prevent Them?

Why Do We Have Nightmares and What Can We Do To Prevent Them?

With the recent Halloween festivities, you may have found your thoughts turning to ghosts, ghouls and other things that go bump in the night. But for many people, night-time terrors are a reality that extend far beyond the spooky Halloween season. In fact, nightmares are far more common than you may think, affecting nearly 70 per cent of adults. While not always a cause for concern, frequent and ongoing nightmares can have a detrimental impact on your health and well-being. To help you keep the dreaded night sweats at bay, let’s take a look at the common causes of disturbing dreams and how we can prevent them.

What are nightmares?

Nightmares are vivid, terrifying dreams that usually occur during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, when most dreaming occurs. When experiencing these dreams, people will often jolt awake suddenly in fear. The subject of the dream is different for each person, although there are some recurring themes, such as being unable to escape from a form of danger or falling from a height.

Why do we have them?

While there is no clear-cut explanation as to why we have nightmares, there are some common causes that are believed to trigger them. For example, if you have recently suffered a traumatic or distressing event, this may translate into your dreams. People with relatives who have regular nightmares may also be at a greater risk of experiencing them.

There are also some lifestyle factors that have been associated with bad dreams, such as eating late at night and drinking alcohol before bed. Sleep deprivation, as well as certain sleep disorders such as sleep apnoea, are also believed to contribute to adult nightmares. Psychological issues such as anxiety, depression and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can also cause people to experience recurrent bad dreams, which can then make the condition worse.

What can we do to prevent them?

Luckily, there are steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of having nightmares and lessen the impact they have on your life. The first step towards preventing them is to establish what the cause is. For example, if a certain sleep disorder is the cause of the problem, treating the underlying condition may help to reduce symptoms. Likewise, if you believe that your medication could be causing bouts of bad dreams, talk to your GP about finding an alternative.

If your nightmares aren’t caused by a health condition, there are simple lifestyle changes you can do to help. Keeping a regular sleep-wake cycle can be highly effective when trying to achieve a more restful, undisturbed rest. It’s also a good idea to cut down on caffeine, alcohol and nicotine consumption, as they can cause the brain to become more active and disrupt sleep patterns.

Practising good sleep hygiene can also help increase your chances of a more peaceful slumber. Try to make your bedroom as relaxing as possible and take an hour before bedtime to wind down by taking a warm bath or having a relaxing massage.

At Adjustamatic, our beds have been designed with your sleeping needs in mind. Our unique NHC Cyclo-Therapy massage feature has been medically proven to relieve the symptoms of a range of sleep disorders to help keep night troubles at bay.

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