Why do we have nightmares?

Dreams and nightmares are often interpreted far more than they should be. Nightmares might wake you up but they’re nothing to be worried about, especially when you learn why we have them. Nightmares aren’t just for kids as between 2% and 8% of the nation’s adults also experience nightmares from time to time.



The issue with nightmares isn’t the fact that you get a disturbed night but the effect they have on your during the next day. The vivid and highly realistic nature of nightmares means that they can have a major effect on you. Heart pounding, fear inducing nightmares occur more often during REM sleep so you probably experience them more often in the early hours of the day.

Common nightmares

Common nightmares like falling from a great height can be intrepid as having some meaning. We discuss the common interpretation of the falling dream in this post, but working out what a dream means isn’t as important as working out where it’s coming from.

What causes nightmares?

Nightmares are often spontaneous but they’re caused by underlying factors. Having a late night snack can affect our sleep and lead to nightmares. As our metabolism is increased, our brains become more active. There are also some medications that contribute to nightmares. Drugs that act on chemicals within the brain like antidepressants and some illegal drugs can lead to nightmares. Blood-pressure tablets have also been known to create nightmares in adults.

Other causes

Withdrawal from substances that our bodies have become addicted to can also lead to nightmares. These include alcohol, tranquillisers and illegal drugs. Sleep deprivation can also be a cause of nightmares. Of course, having nightmares can lead to sleep deprivation so this can be a very vicious circle to find yourself in.

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