Causes of Bad Dreams
Rest comes in different forms; one may relax the body by primarily engaging it in a slight state of unconsciousness. Here the body, brain and mind are still very much active as the slightest sound can cause the person to quickly regain full consciousness.
This state may transcend to a total state of unconsciousness which may be regarded as sleep. In this state of unconsciousness, the body shuts down while the activities of the brain are reduced.
When the eyes are shut in sleep, breathing becomes slow as the heart relaxes and brain functions decrease. There are different phases of sleep, and dreams as defined to be a succession of involuntary images turned alive by ideas, emotions and sensations, occur only when we are deeply asleep and not some simple rest.
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This stage of sleep is referred to as the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) stage. Dreams can occur at any time of the day as sleep is induced.
Also while at sleep, the brain responds to random signals and tries to make meaning from them. Some of these random signals could be remote or recent memories. This process of responding and trying to make meaning from signals could make a good dream or a bad one- just how violent or moderate science sees these signals to be.
Dreams can be seen as a virtual reality of the mind created from images, memories and emotions in our brains.
The brain plays a vital role in human anatomy, it serves as a storage unit for memories. The things we see, hear, and feel are stored as memories and registered in the brain. Fragments from these memories act out in dreams. This implies that our day to day activities affect our dreams.
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Dreams could be good or bad depending on factors as memories, activities or unexplained supernatural intervention. Bad dreams are termed nightmares and can result from reading scary books and watching horror movies, stress (mental, emotional or physical) or anxiety, sickness, medications or substance abuse, traumatic experiences and spiritual attacks.
Scary books and horror movies could cause bad dreams as visuals/graphics create long-lasting memories when compared to audio/sound. These images take longer to wither from the memory, they continue to replay in the mind.
Horror movies have the ability to induce fear which causes the release of cortisol and adrenaline stress hormones which sets the mind active for fight-or-flight. It causes a change in blood flow away from the heart and into the limbs.
The scene being replayed is interpreted by the brain to be danger. The brain in turn responds to this by triggering a fight or flight response. All these turn out as a nightmare to the person.
Traumatic experiences such as a ghastly motor accident, rape, fire accident, maltreatment and torture are just like horror movies. Such experiences are imprinted on its victims as bad memories and sometimes difficult to forget. Trauma is a major trigger for bad dreams as it causes fear in the subconscious while asleep.
Sickness or illness can be seen as an abnormality in the normal functioning of the body system. When one is ill, hormonal imbalances may occur and the body in responding to them triggers its defence mechanism.
This is synonymous to the body responding to threats or fear, the interpretation of all these signals gives nightmare also some conditions as high fever and sleep disorders as sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome result is giving bad dreams.
Lack of sleep, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, mental disorder, emotional stress can also result in bad dreams as these conditions also create fear and random signals which could be processed by the brain and cause nightmares.
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Spiritual attacks can cause nightmares. There is no denying the powers of forces beyond mankind’s understanding and control, where science fails to provide explanations with limited/impractical knowledge on the balance of nature’s forces, continuous probing and questioning into reality is called and immaterial/ spiritual assumptions are allowed for what cannot be seen.
Neurologists have not fully explained the concept of dreams, so also spiritual attacks from demons or closely related demonic creatures can cause bad dreams.
Bad dreams or nightmares are uneventful occurrences. But they can be managed, treated and prevented. Avoiding the above causes of nightmares, exercising and having adequate sleep can help to reduce those frequent disturbing episodes.