Does having nightmares have any benefits?

We often think of nightmares in complete denial; We do not like their contents and they cause us discomfort. However, both pleasant dreams and nightmares are part of our life and they also have meaning.

Although they are related to dreams that generate intense fear or threat, some benefit is attributed to them. Even so, it is essential to know when to worry, as they are sometimes an expression of greater discomfort. In the following space we tell you more about it.

Causes of nightmares

The benefits of nightmares are plentiful
There are several factors that can influence the quality of sleep and the frequent appearance of nightmares.

Let’s start by saying what nightmares are. In his opinion Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders in its latest edition (DSM-V), I’m a type of parasomnia which implies the repeated appearance of terrifying dreams, which can wake up the affected person and whose content generates fear or intense discomfort.

In general, they appear in REM sleep, which occurs 90 to 110 minutes after falling asleep, or in the second half of the night, which is the most frequent. When investigating the reasons for nightmares, there are multiple reasons.

There are positions focused by neuroscience and psychophysiology, while there are other approaches that are oriented around an unconscious that tries to give us a message or resolve a desire. Interpretations need not be exclusive.

  • The presence of chronic stress is also the basis of nightmares, Therefore, it is important to address both problems hand in hand, as they can imply a significant deterioration in daily functioning.
  • Worry about nightmares has been very recurring since the Covid-19 pandemic. In this case, the high load of stress and uncertainty, together with concern for one’s own health and that of loved ones, became the trigger.
  • Nightmares, on the other hand, can often occur after a heavy dinner, with foods that are difficult to digest and prevent good rest.
  • They can also occur due to being under the influence of alcohol or other types of substances.
  • There are times when it is noted that there are nightmares or greater night terrors. In this case, they are very common in childhood and adolescence and would be part of a brain development process.

benefits of having nightmares

The advantages of nightmares are that they help anticipate
Nightmares are said to be beneficial because they could help a person anticipate potentially difficult scenarios.

It’s hard to think that nightmares provide benefits, as they are associated with poor sleep and negative emotions. However, a study conducted by researchers at the University of Geneva, the University Hospitals of Geneva and the University of Wisconsin in the United States, suggest some positive effects.

According to the publication, neuroscientific theories propose that emotions experienced in dreams they contribute to the resolution of emotional distress and to the preparation of future affective reactions.

In other words, they may help you act more confidently in potentially dangerous situations in real life. As noted, the nightmares caused more activity in the medial prefrontal cortex, the area of ​​the brain that regulates the fear response. Let’s take a closer look at the possible benefits.

relieve stress

One of the main benefits of nightmares is stress reduction. This reaches it from allow the adoption of other roles and actions that are not actually allowed or are inhibited for some reason.

That is, they propose a space to take alternative ‘exits’. For example, that nightmare where a person argues with his boss and yells loudly at him. In real life, this probably isn’t recommended, but after the dream, it’s liberating.

deal with emotions

In some cases the sensations experienced in nightmares allow us to face fears, anxieties and anxieties. In fact, sometimes they feel so real that you feel the physical exhaustion. Even so, when reviewing events in waking life, it is possible to adopt a different perception of what happened and reflect on it.

In nightmares, events are magnified, but allow us to think in a ‘what if’. Thus, we come face to face with feared situations and try out possible responses.

Find solutions

In many cases, the interpretation of nightmares is the starting point for solving problems that arise in real life. They also allow new ideas to deal with potentially difficult situations.

Recounting nightmares usually has a cathartic effect. It is liberating and provides relief.

There is also something good about nightmares

Nightmares would be an unreal scenario where we can try different roles and face some concerns. One of its advantages is that, by anticipating a feared scenario, we make it familiar.

Precisely for this reason, we can not only prepare ourselves, but also prepare ourselves in another way, both attitudinal and with respect to the body.

Even so, these incidents should be taken more seriously and as a possible reason for consultation, when they recur or make rest difficult. For example, if they interrupt your sleep and then you can’t get back to sleep. Even if you have to follow certain behaviors after holding them, like leaving the lights on.

In these cases, it is recommended to improve sleep hygiene through habits such as going to bed early, limiting sugar and caffeine consumption in the hours before rest, avoiding screens, among others.

Many times, nightmares are a symptom of medical conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety. In this sense, it is advisable to do the consult a professional to regain well-being.

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