Not often you will see an article about the “benefits of nightmares”, it sounds as contradictory as saying a “toothache is a wonderful experience”. In recent studies there seems be a growing body of evidence suggesting that nightmares benefit your mental and phyical well being. Researchers suggest being anxious of afraid while sleeping helps to control fear during the waking hours.
A study from the University Of Switzerland and researchers from the United States studied how the brain reacted to types of dreams. They concluded that nightmares improved the effectiveness of the brain reacting to an alarming or scary situation faced in your walking life.
Neuroscientists have also conducted studies from the University of Geneva suggesting that our nightmares can also be used to help treat anxiety disorders. A nightmare is considered a frightening or unpleasant vivid dream that evoke feelings of helplessness, terror, anxiety and sorrow.
We tend to experience these horrible dreams at certain stages of our sleep cycle, usually during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. As REM sleep becomes progressively longer usually when we are close to waking up in the morning.
Nightmares: ‘preparing us for real life danger’
A recent study was preformed on 20 students to determine if bad dreams – usually less vivid and moderately scary opposed to a night terror – could benefit the dreamer.
Over 300 electrodes attached to each individual student, followed by another 90 people recording dreams and sleeping patterns – the neuroscientists studied how the emotional state experienced was similar to feelings while awake.
The findings, published in Human Brain Mapping, concluded that nightmares helped the subjects react better to scary or alarming situations. The area where the brain contained the reaction to fear was concluded to be more adequate. This concluded that these unsettling dream experiences help us cope and prepare us for real life danger in our lives.
Researchers have also concluded there seems to be a strong connection between emotions we experience during sleep and wakefulness. Nightmares seem to map out frightening situations like a rehearsal for similar experiences when awake. We can view these bad dreams as training for future events just in case we are faced with real life dangers.
- During a nightmare blood flow decreases to the brain and switches towards the muscles and other systems, making a faster recovery.
- At the peak of your nightmare your growth and stress hormones, immune system, heart and blood pressure are all positively affected.
- Recurring nightmares are a form of exposure therapy that help the dreamer confront the painful experience or things that threaten them to overcome their fears.
Bad Dreams: what is hidden below the surface?
Understanding the meaning behind your dreams can be challenging at first, however you understand the basics layout the fun starts. The moment your eyes close you emerge in unknown territory (unconsciousness) assorted with series of vivid thoughts, images, and sensations that can be both pleasant or chilling. Dreams bring you to a mysterious sacred place where humans and cosmos meet and interact.
According to analytical psychologist Carl Jung felt that dreams are doing the work of integrating our conscious and unconscious lives. This was a the process called individuation – the ability to transform one’s psyche by bringing the personal and collective unconscious into conscious through dream analysis.
Jung’s felt that the dream world is a realm of the archetypes, essentially comprised of universal energies that belong to every human who is not only in conflict with society; but with their own internal struggle. Bad dreams where often considered symbols of something repressed with the dreamer.
By decoding our dreams we start to chip away at the mold that was created to protect ourselves against the powers to be. We are often trapped children in adult bodies trying to make sense of the past, present and future. Your nightmares provide you with metaphoric clues hinting at what might be unconscious to you.
Common nightmares usually involved either being chased, being bitten, natural disasters or even teeth falling out. These disturbing dreams contain repressed or ignored emotions, urges, behaviors that you haven’t identified within yourself yet. Often times people who dream of snakes brings the dreamer to focus on what scrupulous people that might be lurking around them.