What causes Nightmares?

We all,at some point of our life may have experienced nightmares. But what exactly is the sole cause of nightmares…..?

Nightmares are usually disturbing, scary and are remembered  unlike the normal dreams we have. Nightmares are even more common in children. But many adults experience nightmares as well. They are vividly realistic. And what do I mean by ‘vivid’ ? Something which is actually entwined with your thoughts,or any past occurrences  experienced before.

Photo by Craig Adderley

  • When can one possibly get nightmares? 

Nightmares are usually experienced by one during a period of something called the REM sleep. Humans are the only animals or mammals which are able to sleep on their back.Also,we humans have the ability to sleep in complete unconsciousness. Meaning we can sleep without any further complications. Mind you not every animal has the ability to do that .In fact the phenomenon is quite rare. Now,the REM sleep. REM basically means Rapid Eye  Movement. It is the one of the 4 stages of sleeping. This is usually the period when we get our dreams. So if you sleep,suppose at 10:00 pm,then the REM sleep ,i.e your dreams are experienced around  3 to 5 am. So…why don’t we move during our sleep? Actually we do. We do move during our sleep, but when  your sleep period enters the REM sleeps, two enzymes or chemicals,namely GABA, and glycine make our body ‘slow down’. And what am I implying by this term? Basically,when you sleep,your body is not particularly working,and even if it did,it would be due to your dreams. To save this energy,rather than wasting them on just some stupid movements,your body makes the organs to slow down a bit. Including your muscles, respiration etc. One can also say that your body is ‘temporarily’ paralysed. But this can also be traumatic because then,one might experience something called ‘sleep paralysis’. What is sleep paralysis? It is a condition where your brain or your eyes are conscious, but your body is still in the stage of REM sleep. And  why should this be a problem? People who have experienced sleep paralysis  describe it with something like, ‘ A person sitting on your chest and clamping your mouth with the worst nightmares in front of you’. What does the above statement mean? You see,suppose you are in the period of REM sleep,your body paralysed,which also includes your lungs,i.e your breathing levels are a bit slower and steadier than usual. In fact,there is a disorder,where people tend to forget breathing in their sleep,resulting in choking and even death in some cases. Anyways,now that you are conscious,your breathing still continues to have the result of the REM sleep. Which makes you feel like you are choking. People recommend that curling your toes has visibly lessened the discomfort,but that only limits till the first or the second stage of sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis can last as short as 10 minutes and as long as 2 hours as well. This  often results in  post traumatic conditions and one may even  develop a fear to sleep.

Okay,back to our concept of nightmares. Nightmares are  a consequence of higher levels of metabolism. 1.Metabolism(metabolism is basically a process where your food is converted into energy (ATP). What may be the possible reason for this to happen? Well, remember the times when you have a craving for some night snacks? That may be one of the most common reasons for metabolism levels to be higher. When this happens,your brain waves get triggered and ultimately resulting in  nightmares. 

2.One of the reasons for nightmares can also be extreme stress and depression. 3.Intake of certain supplements could also be the reason for such circumstances. For example, medications of poor pressure, antidepressants etc.

Photo by Pedro Figueras 

4. Nightmares can also be a result of certain sleep disorders like insomnia(inability to sleep,often resulting in dozing in some embarrassing positions..)

5. Anxiety can also be the cause of nightmare

6. People with trauma may also find themselves in similar situations.

7. Nightmares often include your worst fears,like falling of the cliff being the most common.

These can be some of the reasons which may cause nightmares. Again,not the word ‘may’. These are some of the known reasons but they mostly depend upon our bodily conditions and our brain cells.Nightmares can usually be prevented or avoided by planning a committed and efficient diet plan also keeping in mind to not eat snacks constantly. Because this might not turn out to be that good for your liver which has to metabolize the food constantly. Also,try to keep yourself in a calm state. Oh yes,it’s not gonna be as easy as it sounds. But  let’s just give it a  try? Please? 

Categories: Health