6 Facts About Nightmares
Research published in the journal Sleep has found that fear is not the prominent emotion in nightmares. Rather, researchers found that it's more often feelings of sadness, confusion and guilt. They said these are the nightmares more likely to stick with a person after they wake up.
Sleep experts believe that all dreams, including nightmares, take place during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Most people experience REM sleep three to five times per night.
Nightmares can lead to persistent problems, as people can anticipate them and develop anxiety. They may fear falling asleep, and when awakened by a nightmare, will be unable to fall back asleep. This is called artificial insomnia.
Some nightmares may be triggered by traumatic events, such as soldiers returning from war. Soldiers often report seeing the scenes that caused their injuries in dreams. Alcohol and psychotropic drug consumption or withdrawal may also trigger intense nightmares.
Researchers asked 572 volunteers to record their dreams over a period of two to five weeks and then analyzed the 9,796 dreams that were reported. Death, health concerns and threats are common to nightmares. But, bad dreams, according to the researchers, are more about interpersonal conflicts.
Scientists have found that physical aggression was the most frequently reported theme in nightmares and that those nightmares are more likely to become so intense they wake a person.