Everyone has nightmares once in a while. But WHY do we get them? And are they a sign of anything serious? Here’s the latest research:
- First: Researchers from Tufts University say all nightmares are the product of anxiety. And that’s why women are more likely to have bad dreams. Because women are twice as likely to have anxiety as men. It’s down to female brain chemistry. Women have a heightened fight-or-flight stress response – and it lasts longer. And women’s nightmares are often centered around fear and loss. In fact, after giving birth, most women report having intense nightmares about something bad happening to their baby!
- Next, did you know that no matter how intense a nightmare gets, you won’t ever scream in your sleep? It’s something we often see people doing in the movies. But sleep studies from Ohio State University show it’s literally impossible. Because when you’re in the phase of sleep where dreams occur – known as REM sleep – all of your muscles are paralyzed… except your eyes and the muscles used for breathing.
- However, if nightmares are waking you up more than usual – that’s something to make note of… because it’s a common symptom of sleep apnea. Since during sleep apnea, your brain can sense it’s not getting enough oxygen, you may wake up choking and gasping. And since that’s a similar experience to waking up from a nightmare – you may confuse the two.
So, see a doctor if you’re having more nightmares or night-awakenings than usual.