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You don't know who it is, but someone is chasing you and you feel terrible fear. You decide to hide for a moment but you realize that you have to go to the bathroom. because right now? You come out of hiding in search of a bathroom, you try to run but it seems as if you are in water, suddenly a hand catches you, you struggle to get out alive but it seems that you have no voice and you scream so loud that your own voice wakes you up. We have all had nightmares and nobody likes them, if they are so horrible ... what are nightmares for?
Sometimes a nightmare is mistaken for a bad dream or night terrors. We can experience a bad dream when we dream something that we do not like but it is not as intense as a nightmare and above all it fails to wake you up. Night terrors are less common and occur in the first hours of sleep, the people who suffer from them are clearly agitated, they can scream and even run but they do not wake up and once they wake up they do not remember what they were dreaming about.
Nightmares occur during the REM stage, they are terrifying, sad or confusing dreams, very vivid and so intense that they manage to wake you up and unfortunately when doing so, you are able to perfectly remember what you dreamed of. The cause of nightmares is intriguing, Germanic folklore attributed them to Mare, a malicious spirit that sat on the chest of sleeping people and brought them nightmares. Other cultures believed that it was due to magical issues or spiritual possession, the American Lakota tribe believed that nightmares helped make decisions. Other cultures were concerned with how to avoid nightmares. According to Slavic mythology, the cause of nightmares was Nocnitsa and the way to protect yourself from her was with a pierced stone. The Ojibwe tribe believed that the cobwebs woven by the spider woman protected children from nightmares, to help them in their work they created dream catchers, these allowed good dreams to pass while the bad ones were trapped in the mesh and disappeared with the first ray of dawn.
The true cause of nightmares is diverse, eating too late can increase your metabolism and send signals to your brain to be more active. Sleeping in an uncomfortable position, having a fever, some medications, sleep deprivation, sleep disorders such as apnea, and restless legs syndrome. Some disorders can also be the cause of constant nightmares, any stressful condition such as the death of a loved one or the birth of a brother can cause an increase in nightmares and even after the pandemic, many people around the world began to have spooky dreams. and other sleep problems. The normal thing in adults is to have a nightmare a month and in children once or twice a week. If you have more, you could have a nightmare disorder, if they interfere with your sleep cycle or your mood, we recommend you go to a specialist. Constant nightmares have serious side effects due to sleep deprivation such as heart problems, depression, and obesity. The cause is unknown but the frequency of nightmares has been associated with a tendency to suicide. It is not known exactly what it is for having nightmares but scientists believe that it has several purposes, perhaps it helps us not to make the same mistakes after being in a car accident. Nightmares could be one way your brain advises you to drive carefully. Some believe that nightmares are a way in which your brain warns you about possible dangers, if you walked through a dangerous place and you were distracted with your cell phone, a few days later, you could dream of a similar place and a dangerous situation. In some way, your brain suggests you be cautious, it could be a way of imagining ourselves in threatening situations and preparing ourselves to react in case it happens.
This theory is reinforced by the fact that our nightmares change as we grow older and some differences are observed according to sex. As an adult it is like dreaming that you are persecuted, with your death or that of someone close, being trapped or with physical aggression, while children often have nightmares about confrontations with monsters, animals or zombies. Curiously, as children we do not usually dream of failures or physical anomalies or perhaps nightmares are the reflection of memory storage.
During REM sleep, which is when nightmares happen, the hippocampus and amygdala are very active. The hippocampus starts to store and order the memories and the amygdala to process the emotions of these, the memories become part of our dreams and when a particularly unpleasant memory appears we have nightmares and as our prefrontal cortex is quite sleepy during REM sleep, we are not able to easily discern the reality of dreams. As strange as it may sound, if you want to get rid of your nightmares, try this. After having a nightmare write it in detail, then write how you would like it to end, you prefer to attack and be the winner or someone to save you or discover that this villain is a masked Santa Claus. Think about that ending during the day and before going to bed, if the dream comes to pass you know exactly what is going to happen. It has also been seen that acquiring the ability to have lucid dreams is useful to realize that you are dreaming and control what happens in your dreams, in addition, we recommend having good sleep hygiene. If you suspect a problem, go to a specialist.