Nightmares are disturbing dreams involving negative feelings and cause fear and anxiety. They are vividly realistic, scary, and make your heart pound in sleep. It often wakes you up from sleep. Even though having nightmares are more common in children, but adults can get nightmares too.
Nightmares happen mostly during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. They usually occur in the second half of the night. For some, it occurs frequently, and for some, it occurs rarely. There is no clear reasoning why nightmares happen, but it happens to most human beings.
There are so many stories that exist in every culture involving nightmares from all around the world. It proves that people have been having nightmares from the beginning of time.
So, people have always been curious about dreams and nightmares. Modern science has discovered some of the reasons for nightmares and some ways to prevent it. Let’s see.
Ways To Prevent Nightmares And Causes Of It [Different Age Group]
All the dreams occur when we are in the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) stage in sleep. If something irritates you, REM sleeps, whether physical or emotional, resulting in nightmares. Usually, nightmares occur in the later hours of REM sleep.
Falling from a high place, trying to run and can’t speed up, someone chasing you, these are some of the common nightmares almost all of us have at least once in our life. No matter how different we are, these are some of the common nightmares that everyone faces.
There are a few factors that may result in nightmares. Nightmares can vary for different aged people. Though there is no permanent solution to stop nightmares, there are ways to prevent nightmares.
Nightmares In Children
Nightmares are prevalent in children. They grow out of it in most cases. It usually starts when they turn 3 and begin to decrease when they turn 10 years old.
For children, nightmares seem very realistic, and often they can’t differentiate between nightmares and reality. Children might have frequent nightmares for traumatic experiences too.
Preventions Of The Nightmare In Children
- Make sure that your children get enough sleep. Lack of sleep can result in nightmares. Proper sleep decreases the intensity of nightmares.
- Try making a suitable environment for sleep. Use a nightlight. Be careful about not making too much sound when children fall asleep. To comfort your children, you can give them a soft toy to hold onto.
- Keep the bedtime routine relaxed. Try not to show any scary movies or tv shows to children before bedtime and avoid reading them horror or scary stories. Anything that might upset children should be avoided 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime.
- Keep your children on the bed after they wake up from a nightmare. Tell them everything is fine, and they can go back to sleep. This way, they can overcome their fear.
- As a parent, you can discuss with your children about their nightmares. It is best to do that at day time when they won’t be scared. Try to learn if there’s any pattern in the nightmares. It’s okay to have nightmares. Sometimes for some traumatic experiences, their nightmares can show a pattern. In that case, it’s advised to consult a psychologist.
- Comfort your children if something is bothering them. They might have nightmares if they are disturbed or stressed about something. Tell your children that they are safe. Try to talk to your children and tell them comforting stories. Try some relaxing activity that might decrease nightmares. You can try different methods and see what works best for your children.
- If your child is having repeated and frequent nightmares, it might mean that your child is suffering from a nightmare disorder. You need to consult a psychiatrist as soon as possible.
Nightmare In Teens
After the age of 12, girls are more likely to have nightmares than boys. For teens, nightmares can happen due to lack of sleep, stress, or tension. It might also occur due to pressure from school or other emotional issues.
Preventions Of The Nightmare In Teens
- For most teens, they have nightmares because they are sleep deprived. They spend their sleep time texting, chatting, or doing other things. The rate of nightmares might decrease if they get adequate sleep. For teens, it’s best to have 9 hours of sleep.
- During these times, teens become very emotional and become depressed often. Being depressed, they often tend to get less sleep or spend sleepless nights. This is another reason why they might have nightmares.
- Teens are prone to insomnia. Teens get stressed a lot these days, which happens to cause insomnia. If a teen has insomnia, s/he should consult a doctor.
- Parents should talk to their teenagers about their school, whether they are getting stressed for school, getting bullied, etc. These emotional stresses and anxiety can be the reasons for their nightmares.
- Teens with other medical conditions or disorders can have nightmares too. It’s best to consult a doctor and discuss their sleeping problems. Some diseases don’t allow the person to get proper sleep, which causes nightmares when they sleep.
Nightmare In Adults
Adults having nightmares are not so uncommon either. Things that trigger nightmares the most for adults are stress and anxiety. In this modern era, adult life is very stressful. It is mainly the reason for adults not getting enough sleep and having nightmares.
There are some other factors too. An adult’s dream can be influenced by what they are thinking and what they are trying to achieve in life. 65% contents of an adult’s dreams are associated with the experienced when awake, research says.
Preventions Of Nightmares In Adults
- Having a regular sleep schedule is the best practice to avoid nightmares. Most adults don’t get enough sleep, which causes sleep deprivation. To get better sleep at night, try to avoid taking a nap during the day.
- Try to avoid caffeine, especially at later hours of the day. Drinking too much coffee or having something that contains caffeine can make you too energized to get sleep. When you sleep, you might get deep sleep and have nightmares.
- Consuming too much alcohol or cigarettes can cause sleep deprivation. It’s best not to have them before sleep. Alcohol intake might seem like a good thing to get sleep, but it disrupts your sleep, preventing deep sleep.
- Exercising helps you have a sound sleep. You can exercise in the morning or in the evening to get better sleep.
- Have a peaceful environment for sleep. Try avoiding bright light or noise. Also, you can use a comfortable place to sleep like a futon frame bed. See the best futon frame here.
- Avoid watching horror movies, tv shows, or reading scary books. Try to avoid watching too much social media. Disturbing content can affect your mental health, triggering nightmares.
- Being stressed about work can hamper your sleep with nightmares. Meditation can help you get better sleep.
- Most adults having nightmares are due to a lack of sleep, triggered by stress and anxiety. Try to keep yourself stress-free. You can listen to stress relief music before going to bed.
- Severe depression can result in sleep deprivation. If you think you get nightmares due to depression, you should consult a doctor.
- Having a traumatic experience in your life may also cause nightmares. Many people get nightmares due to PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). In that case, you should consult a psychiatrist.
- Some specific types of drugs or medication can interrupt your sleep. You should consult your doctor about prescribed medicines, which causes sleep deprivation.
Sleep terrors are slightly different from nightmares. They occur when you are deep asleep, during non –REM sleep. People usually don’t remember about sleep terrors when they wake up in the morning. It is more common in children than in adults.
Sleep terrors occur during non-REM sleep, whereas nightmares occur during the REM sleep period. Again, nightmares can occur in adults or children, but night terror tends to happen in children.
Nightmares are mostly caused by interrupted sleep. If we get sound sleep, it is unlikely to get nightmares. You should try your best to be stress-free. A nightmare disorder may lead you to severe health and mental problems. If you get repeated and frequent nightmares, you should consult a doctor even after trying to prevent nightmares.