Your Worst Nightmare

Sarah Smith, Feature Reporter

Have you ever experienced a terrifying, spine chilling, nightmare that has haunted you even when you wake up? Well Nightmares plague everyone from young children to adults. A nightmare can be caused by several factors including stress, trauma, sleep deprivation, medications, substance abuse, frightening books, movies, or medical disorders.

All of these things can affect a person and their dreams. Nightmares generally occur during childhood but adults may also suffer from them.

According to the American Academy of Sleep, “An estimated 10 percent to 50 percent of children between the ages of 5 and 12 years have nightmares severe enough to disturb their parents.”

On the contrary only two to eight percent of adults are generally caused by sleep deprivation, stress, anxiety, and unhealthy eating.

There are two different types of dreams that can make a person wake up scared and afraid in the middle of the night: nightmares and night terrors.

Even though these sound exactly the same they are very different. Night terrors generally occur right after or a couple of hours after falling asleep.

Night terrors are usually associated with feelings. Night terrors usually leave the person not remembering exactly what happened and what exactly caused them so fear. A nightmare on the other hand is almost the exact opposite of a night terror. A nightmare tends to occur in the morning or a couple of hours before the person wakes up, during a time period called REM sleep, REM stands for rapid eye movement.

REM sleep generally takes about ninety minutes after a person has fallen asleep. The first time a person experiences REM sleep it generally will last only ten minutes.

The longer a person sleeps the more REM cycles they encounter. As time goes on the REM periods become longer and longer.While asleep a person’s brain is the most active in the REM cycle and that is why nightmares generally happen while in this stage.

Nightmares can also be considered a disorder if someone has nightmares frequently and loses sleep over them. Next time you are having recurring bad dreams, just calm down and take a deep breath, they may just go away.

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