Dreams have been one of the most complicated aspects of sleep. While some dreams are blissful and you may not even want to wake up from them, other dreams can be scary and cause stress. Sometimes mattresses even have an effect on dreams. However, when a dream causes you to wake up in the middle of the night it is known as a nightmare. While most people have nightmares every once in a while, some people experience nightmares more frequently. This can affect their day-to-day life if it occurs too often. Being able to differentiate between nightmares and bad dreams is the first step to addressing and fixing the problem.
What Are Nightmares?
Nightmares and bad dreams are not the same. While they both may be disturbing, you only wake up from nightmares. Nightmares entail vivid dreams that are upsetting, threatening, and even bizarre, and they often occur during REM sleep. REM sleep is the stage associated with intense dreaming. Most people find themselves feeling anxious or upset after a dream. There may even be physical symptoms after a dream which include high heart rate and sweat after waking up.
Why Do We Have Nightmares & Are They Normal?
It is very normal for children and adults to have bad dreams and nightmares occasionally. Nightmares are normally more common in children. However, a nightmare disorder is less common. Research estimates that only around 2% of people have issues with nightmares. With that being said, women are more likely to report nightmares than men.
Dreaming in general is very difficult for researchers to understand, let alone nightmares. Therefore, there is not a set in stone reason we have nightmares. Many experts believe dreams are a way for our brains to process emotions. Bad dreams would then be a way for the brain to process trauma, but more research needs to be done to figure out the real reason for bad dreams.
Can Nightmares Affect Sleep?
Nightmares can affect a person’s quality of sleep, especially recurring nightmares. People with nightmare disorders are more likely to suffer from a decrease in sleep quality. Nightmares can cause anxiety and when you are anxious about having a nightmare that can cause sleep avoidance because it is hard to relax your mind. However, avoiding sleep will only make the nightmares worse because sleep avoidance causes sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation can provoke REM sleep rebound which can cause more intense dreams which can prevent sleep even more. Nightmares can also worsen mental health issues because lack of sleep can cause depression and anxiety.
When Should You See a Doctor?
- When nightmares happen more than once a week
- When nightmares affect your mood, sleep, or any daily activity
- When nightmares began at the same time as the start of a new medication
How to Reduce Nightmares & Get Better Sleep
If your nightmares are affecting your normal sleep schedule and daily life you should consult your doctor to address any underlying issues. Building better sleep habits is never a bad idea, they can even help get rid of bad dreams and nightmares which can overall improve your sleep quality. Factors to improve your sleep schedule include:
Have a Sleep Schedule: A healthy sleep schedule will allow you to prioritize the right amount of sleep you should be getting every night. This will prevent sleep avoidance.
Relaxation Methods: Finding ways to relax before bed, like meditation, and deep breathing can help reduce stress.
Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol: Caffeine stimulates your mind which can make it harder to relax before bed. Drinking alcohol can disrupt your sleep schedule which will lead to nightmares.
Reducing Screen Time: Reducing screen time before bed will help relax your mind before trying to sleep. Try reading a book instead of scrolling on your phone.
Creating a Comfortable Environment: Creating a comfortable sleeping environment could mean many different things. You may be experiencing discomfort when you sleep, so you may need a new mattress. A sound machine might be helpful too if you live in a loud area.
How We Can Help!
At Wholesale Mattress Center, we want to make sure you are having a restful sleep. If you are continuing to wake up from nightmares you are not having the best quality of sleep you could be. Sometimes all you need is a new mattress because discomfort sounds like a nightmare to us. Contact us today to get rid of your bad dreams!