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13 Signs Your Bad Dreams Could Mean Something Worse

Everyone has nightmares or experienced bad dreams at some point. Whether it’s because of a stressful event, or a scary movie, nightmares are a normal part of life. However, if you are constantly experiencing nightmares, either moderate or severe ones, it might be an indication that something else is at stake.

If you want to find out more, read on about these 13 signs that your bad dreams might indicate something much worse than, from mental problems to traumas and health risks.

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Bad Dreams Can Warn You About More Important Issues! Check Them Out!

  1. Mental health condition

Bad dreams on a daily basis, better said, nightly basis, could indicate problems such as panic disorder, schizophrenia, dissociative disorder, and borderline personality disorder. However, according to health specialists, frequent nightmares are usually signs of clinical depression and clinical anxiety.

According to statistics, 11.4 percent of people with clinical depression admitted to having bad dreams constantly; on the other hand, 17.1 percent of adults suffering from clinical anxiety said they experience nightmares almost every night.

  1. Unresolved trauma

While there might be many reasons behind one’s nightmares, scientists have reached the conclusion that one essential contributive factor to recurring bad dreams is PTSD. According to one study published by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, a staggering 90 percent of people with PTSD experience frequent and severe nightmares.

Recurring nightmares are generally used by clinicians when diagnosing PTSD. You might argue that many people have bad dreams that are associated to their traumas. But one study published in Behavioral Sleep Medicine reveals that 60 percent of people with PTSD began experiencing severe bad dreams prior to their traumas. This comes to show that reoccurring nightmares might be a sign that someone is prone to PTSD.

  1. Medication side effects

It might surprise many people out there, but certain types of medication can turn your night into a complete nightmare. For real. That’s because many medications contain ingredients with a variety of side effects, nightmares included.

As a general rule, check the warning labels on the medication bottles and look for side effects on the neurotransmitters in the brain. Generally, antidepressants and mood stabilizers can have a negative influence o your dreams. However, don’t disregard blood pressure meds, sleep aids, allergy meds, and steroids which can also impact your sleep.

  1. Too much snacking in the middle of the night

Is it possible that food causes nightmares to certain people? Very possible. According to researchers at the Canadian Center for Advanced Research in Sleep Medicine, 17.8 percent of the students who participated in the experiment experienced disturbing dreams after eating too much late at night.

In confirmation of this theory, the National Sleep Foundation explains that people who eat before going to bed force their metabolism to keep working, signaling their brains to remain in an active state. Given that dreams take place when the brain is highly active, it means that your dreams are more vivid and quite possible, more disturbing during that interval. What do specialists recommend to reduce the frequency of bad dreams? Stop eating before going to bed.

  1. Insufficient sleep

It’s like a domino. Bad dreams can affect the quality of your sleep, making you sleep less. But insufficient sleep can also make you have nightmares. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 17.1 percent of adults suffering from insomnia admitted to experiencing nightmares when finally sleeping.

When you do not sleep properly, namely the REM restful sleep, your brain remains active during the short period of REM sleep, giving you those obnoxious nightmares. It’s a vicious cycle that affects your nights but also your daily activities.

  1. Underlying breathing issues

Insufficient sleep might not be the only culprit for your frequent nightmares. But if you do manage to get your proper number of ZZZs per night and still have bad dreams, then your breathing problems might be the ones to blame.

According to a study published in the Sleep Medicine Journal, people with severe sleep apnea, for instance, reported having frequent nightmares during the REM sleep. Consequently, 91 percent of people who started receiving treatment for their breathing problems such as sleep apnea, experienced less frequent bad dreams.

  1. Other sleep-related problems

Breathing problems such as sleep apnea are quite common causes of sleep issues, but there are also other conditions that your nightmares could be indicating towards. Issues such as restless leg syndrome, sleep paralysis and even narcolepsy.

According to experts, many people suffer from nighttime disorder without even realizing it. The most common symptoms of this disorder include intense and constant nightmares, repeated awakenings, alertness and anxiety. It is usually happening to children under 10 years old, but there is also a small category of adults, around 4 percent, who also experience this issue.

Read also: 8 Sleep Habits of People Who Almost Never Get Sick

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  1. Scary movies

If you like to watch scary movies, you should know that various studies revealed that horror flicks can have a great influence on your dreams. If you’ve noticed that your nightmares occur whenever you’ve watched scary movies, maybe it’s time to tone down the frequency, and why not, choose other genres.

As explained by the International Association for the Study of Dreams, there’s a higher probability to experience nightmares by people who watch violent movies before sleep than by those who stick to softer stories.

  1. Lactose intolerance

Now that we’ve established that eating too much before bed is not helping your sleep, if you can’t help it, at least avoid eating one item: dairy. As revealed by the Canadian Center for Advanced Research in Sleep Medicine, consuming dairy can contribute to your restless nights and frequent nightmares, especially in the case of people with lactose intolerances.

Lactose intolerance is quite common, if not the most common food allergy, but in many cases, it remains undiagnosed. Therefore, if you know you consume dairy, monitor the days when you also experience nightmare, maybe there is a correlation between the two.

  1. Fever onset

A sudden increase in one’s body temperature could also be the reason for your nightmare. When your body is going through a sudden temperature rise above the normal range, the part of your brain associated with negative emotions, namely the amygdala, gets activated. This over-stimulation, which is already at its highest during the REM stage of sleep, can intensify emotions such as fear, terror, anger and the like, transposing the into disturbing nightmares.

  1. Major life changes

It’s quite normal for people to experience anxiety or discomfort when something major changes in their lives, especially when it feels like the change has been imposed by others. Even if it is a welcomed change, it can still trigger certain emotions and feelings. Sometimes, our dreams reflect our true feelings.

According to Oxford Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute in one of their studies, people who experience high levels of stress and worry constantly, experienced more severe and frequent bad dreams. The research focused on various factors that might contribute to nightmares, among which alcohol use, depersonalization, psychotic behavior, worry; it was found that worry had the highest contribution to how frequent one experiences bad dreams.

You might also like: 10 Visitation Dreams From a Deceased Loved One

  1. Possible heart issues

Specialists have associated nightmares with various health issues, among which the number one leading cause of death in the world: heart disease. As detailed in a 2003 study published in the Netherlands Journal of Medicine, older men and women with frequent and intense nightmares also experience more frequent irregular heartbeats and chest pains. That’s because bad dreams can make one’s heart rate and blood pressure to rise.

  1. Possible chronic pain

According to a Sleep Research Society study, 30 percent of people with severe nightmares experience pain sensations at the same time. Coincidence? Researchers think not. Another study published in the Open Pain Journal revealed that people suffering from chronic back pain admitted to experiencing bad dreams in which they felt pain. In addition, such patients do not manage to get an adequate number of hours of sleep, which means higher risks for frequent nightmare occurrences.

See also: 10 Diseases You Can Catch By Kissing Someone

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