How can one define a nightmare?
When we speak of nightmare we refer to dreams that can be distressing or even traumatizing. When you experience such a dream you may get awakened from your sleep.
If not so, most nightmares are reported to cause at least partial awakening. When having a nightmare you may be subjected to any kind of negative emotions, sometimes even multiple of them, like, guilt, anger, fear, sadness, anxiety or depression.
Nightmares, their types and themes, differ from person to person. Even a particular person may experience different kinds of nightmares at different times.
Who can have a nightmare?
Almost everyone has experienced a nightmare at some time of their life or the other. Nightmares do not necessarily happen to adults only. Many children too report that they have suffered due to nightmares. It has been seem that the majority of these children are between the ages of three and four or seven and eight. However, doctors and analysts ask parents or guardians not to worry about such nightmares – these belong to the normal process that molds the growth and development of a child. These are generally not signals that there is any serious problem. However, repeated and disturbing nightmares that recur frequently should be dealt with care, and if required professional help should be sought. Studies have also indicated that nightmares are common among adults too. They may experience it time and again. In fact 5 to 10% of adults report to experience nightmares once in a month or more frequently.
What can cause a nightmare?
- Researchers have put forward several possible reasons that can cause nightmares to occur. In fact there could be physiological as well as psychological causes that can result into nightmare.
- There are times when these can be caused by side effects of certain drugs or medications or when you are trying to withdraw from any of them.
- Physical discomfort such as illnesses and high fever can also cause nightmares to happen.
- These can happen if you are sleeping in a position in which you feel any discomfort.
- When you are experiencing too much of stress of anxiety in your day to day life it can cause a nightmare to happen.
- Another potential stimulant of nightmare can be indigestion or eating just before you go to bed. When you eat, immediately after that, your body experiences an increased rate of metabolic activity. There is often an increased brain activity too during this time. The result of these two can cause nightmare.
- Nightmares can be result of faulty sleeping patterns. Nightmares can also cause faulty sleeping patterns and also insomnia, and like a vicious cycle these then may cause nightmare in turn.
- Some people have reported to experience nightmare when they have gone through some traumatic situation in life. When a person suffers from severe trauma, at times the person suffers from a condition known as PTSD or posttraumatic stress disorder. This may trigger severe anxiety, which in turn may result into nightmare. This may include loss of a dear one, or a sudden accident or a surgery or any kind of assault or a severe medical condition or having experienced a war or direct consequence thereof.
- When a person is suffering from anxiety for not being able to resolve an issue, or when an issue does not get resolved as per the person’s satisfaction, this complex mental situation can cause nightmare.
- If a person has been scared of something in the childhood it can keep coming back even in the latter years as nightmare.
- Children often have nightmare too. The good part is that if such nightmare is not very frequent or recurrent, or is not affecting negatively the psyche of the child, then such nightmare should not be a cause to worry about. These come under the series of processes that a child struggles to deal with in the tender years and relate to normal childhood anxieties, fears and growing up problems.
- Sometimes there are people who complain of experiencing nightmares that they cannot connect to the context of what is happening in their waking life. Researchers have found that these people are generally sensitive and emotional ones who get influenced by what goes on around them, or are more creative than average people.
What could be the possible remedies to get rid of a nightmare?
- The remedies of a nightmare actually lie within the source that is causing the nightmare. Well, drugs, illnesses and medication induced nightmares are not under discussion here for they would need proper medical treatment and if you are experiencing something of this kind, you need to stick to what your doctor says.
- When a child is suffering from nightmare it has often been seen that talking about the nightmare with an adult helps to ease the fear and reduces the recurrence. A few nightmares in childhood are common, and do not need any kind of treatment apart from soothing the anxiety.
- If however a child experiences recurrent and frequent nightmares, then the situation requires the aid of a psychologist. The therapist may attempt to talk to the child, make the child feel safer and secure in some way, or give the child a more positive approach about the nightmares.
- Post trauma nightmares are often considered by therapists to be a process of healing. They opine that with time as the process of recovery from the trauma progresses the intensity and the frequency of the nightmare would also diminish. However, if no change is noticed over a prolonged period of time, a therapist should be consulted.
- Sometimes, nightmares are caused by intense stress, tension, anxiety or emotional conflict or disturbance. Such nightmares get resolved when the cause of these are removed. If you cannot pinpoint the cause, a therapist can help.
- It is surprising but also a positive fact that there are many people who have the capability of taking nightmares to their stride with positivity. Although while they experience them they find it pretty disturbing, they consider these dreams to be fascinating work of creation by their mind. Some people consider them interesting, while many people disregard them to be just passing fancies.
- From the previous point it can be concluded that to find the remedy for a nightmare you have to mold your attitude towards it. When you can take it lightly then it would not be able to cause any negative effect in your life or in your mind.
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