A nightmare can be one of the most disruptive and unpleasant things to happen while you sleep. They prevent you from properly resting and then there is the emotional side of bad dreams. Leaving you feeling anxious, upset and even sad, nightmares are a psychological minefield. The thing is, they can happen to anyone. No one is immune to nightmares, although you might think that when you become an adult your nightmares are a thing of the past, the reality is far from it.

Even your new bed is not going to prevent nightmares from happening. But there are other ways to combat bad dreams. And identifying a cause is always a good place to start. 

Nightmares can be about anything, it is the emotions that they evoke that make them a bad dream.
Nightmares can be about anything, it is the emotions that they evoke that make them a bad dream.

Sleep scientists might not know the exact cause of nightmares, but they have pinpointed a few of those factors that they think might contribute to your bad dreams. Fever and even eating right before bed are thought to be a cause of nightmares while sleeping in an uncomfortable position may well also be a contributing factor.

In some severe cases, nightmares can become a chronic condition leading to insomnia and may well require medical treatment. While it is normal to wake up when you have a nightmare, in extreme cases, where you have night after night of terrible dreams, they can leave you shaken and unable to get back to sleep at all.

What the latest research says about nightmares

Although scientists have been trying to pinpoint the causes of nightmares, the results are usually inconclusive. For some people, it is a traumatic event or post-traumatic stress disorder that has them experiencing bad dreams, while for others it could be that they are getting too hot or too cold while they sleep.

Everyone will experience a nightmare at one point or another during their lifetime, and researchers have now uncovered a new cause: Too much sleep!

And believe it or not, there really is such a thing as oversleeping. In this case, we’re not talking about those who sleep in once and a while to catch up. Instead, we are talking about those who get enough sleep but choose to snooze a little more.  

When the University of Oxford decided to do a little research into nightmares and their underlying causes, they became the first university to conduct such an in depth study. They selected 846 participants from the general population and asked them to do an online survey. They had the participants tell them about their last two weeks of sleep and then asked them to rate their nightmares.

They also gathered data about what was going on in the lives of the participants which could have contributed to the occurrence of nightmares. Some of the results showed that those who were having nightmares were also those who were very concerned about the future. This wasn’t the big surprise they uncovered as it has already been proven that stress can trigger nightmares, and let’s face it, most of us stress about the future.

Those who had nightmares were also more likely to continue being worried well into the next day. Carrying this stress over can make the day a lot more tiring, not only because of the worry but also because of the interrupted sleep.

The unexpected discovery was that those who were sleeping for more than 9 hours each night were those who were more likely to have nightmares. Another surprise was that alcohol and exercise showed to have no influence over whether or not a person would have nightmares.

According to the research, those who sleep for longer periods of time are up to 40% more likely to have their sleep interrupted by nightmares. As most nightmares occur during the later phase of REM sleep, the impact of nightmares is especially unwanted!

Help for Chronic Nightmares

For those who suffer from chronic nightmares, sleep can be something you dread instead of something you look forward to. Having chronic nightmares interrupt your nights consistently, can cause you to try to stop yourself from falling asleep.

But there is only so much time that you can go without sleep before you start to feel the negative effects. Weight gain and moodiness will be the least of your problems when you are suffering from a lack of sleep brought on by nightmares.

While there is nothing unusual about the occasional bad dream, chronic nightmares are a whole different story. These are the kind of nightly dreams that leave you feeling fatigued day after day, and together with stress and fatigue, they become the perfect recipe for anxiety and depression. Nightmares can be about anything, what classifies a dream as a nightmare is the feeling that they create. It is usually the negative feelings and emotions following a dream make it a nightmare.

Pills are not always a reliable solution when experiencing chronic nightmares, so some are forced to look beyond that and instead rely on psychotherapy or behavioural techniques. The only techniques that have been shown to reduce and eventually put a stop to chronic nightmares are treatments for insomnia.

Take control of your nightmares by using these 3 steps

You might not need to go as far as seeking out professional help if you are able to make these 3 steps work to your advantage. If you find yourself suffering from seemingly endless nightmares, try this:

  1. Write down what it is that you dreamt about. This will help you to separate the dream from the conscious
  2. Once the dream is out there, try to think of the ways that you would change the dream, by using your intuition.
  3. For the next few days, set time aside to think about the changed version of your dream and keep that picture in your mind.

For some people, this works very well. For others, it might not be the best way forward. What matters most is that you find the way forward in preventing nightmares from invading your day to day life. And should you find that you are not ridding yourself of bad dreams, consult your doctor.

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If you are looking for a new way to improve your sleep, why not look at buying a new bed? While it might not be enough to keep you from having bad dreams, a new bed will certainly help you to sleep better when you really need to. With Simmons beds for sale, Cloud Nine beds for sale and comfortable Rest Assured beds for sale, we have the selection that you must have a look at!