5 Freaky Facts About Nightmares

Edgar Allan Poe was known for his bone-chillingly terrifying stories.

Many of these tales were influenced by the horrific nightmares that plagued him for most of his life. Poe explored the mysteries of these chilling dreamscapes in poems like “Dream-Land,” in which he described wandering down “a route obscure and lonely/ Haunted by ill angels only.”

Most people, thankfully, don’t live their lives haunted by the kind of sinister night visions that Poe experienced. But most of us know that the mind at rest can travel to some pretty strange (and sometimes disturbing) places.

Nightmares are relatively common and in most cases a healthy psychological experience. Most people experience them only occasionally, but roughly 6 percent of adults have nightmares on a regular basis.

A nightmare, which typically occurs during REM sleep and feels very real, is something more than just a bad dream. So what’s really going on in your mind when you’re having one?

“Nightmares are generally more emotionally intense than bad dreams, and usually how they’re distinguished is that a nightmare will cause the person directly to awaken, either because of the nature of the unpleasant images or the intensity of the emotions,” Dr. Zadra Antonio, a psychologist and sleep medicine researcher at the University of Montreal and a nightmare specialist, told The Huffington Post.

Here are five scientific findings about nightmares to help demystify your creepiest dreams.

Nightmares may be your brain’s way of releasing anxiety.

Recurrent nightmares can be a sign of post-traumatic stress disorder or some other psychiatric health issue, but in most cases they’re unrelated to mental illness. In fact, there’s nothing wrong with having nightmares — they might actually be good for you!

A video from New York magazine’s Science of Us series, “The Good Side of Bad Dreams,” explains —> Read More