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Nightmares are broadly defined as frightening dreams that result in some degree of awakening from sleep.
Nightmares themselves contribute to disrupted sleep not only by waking the sleeper but also because they can lead to fear of falling asleep and returning to a disturbing dream. According to research, nightmares may contribute to insomnia, daytime fatigue, depression, and anxiety.
Night terrors are very intense episodes of fright during dreams. These frightening episodes are often accompanied by screaming or yelling, as well as by physical movement such as leaping out of bed or flailing in panic.
Research suggests that sleep terrors occur during non-REM sleep dreaming, while nightmares tend to happen during REM sleep.
One of the areas of the brain that’s most active during dreaming is the amygdala - the part of the brain associated with the survival instinct and the fight-or-flight response.
One theory suggests dreams may be the brain’s way of getting you ready to deal with a threat. Fortunately, the brainstem sends out nerve signals during REM sleep that relax your muscles. That way you don’t try to run or punch in your sleep.
One theory for why we dream is that it helps facilitate our creative tendencies.
Without the logic filter, you might normally use in your waking life that can restrict your creative flow, your thoughts and ideas have no restrictions when you’re sleeping.
Our molecular clock inside our cells aims to keep us in sync with the sun.
When we disregard this circadian rhythm, we are at a greater risk for illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, and dementia.
Thomas Edison said that sleep is "a bad habit." Like Edison, we seem to think of sleep as an adversary and try to fight it at every turn. The average American sleeps less than the recommended seven hours per night, mostly due to electric lights, television, computers, and smartphones.
However, we are ignoring the intricate journey we're designed to take when we sleep.
When we fall asleep, the nearly 86 billion neurons in our brain starts to fire evenly and rhythmically. Our sensory receptors become muffled at the same time.
The first stage of shallow sleep lasts for about 5 minutes.