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We've all had nightmares, but do they mean our mind is trying to tell us something?

Posted at 1:24 PM, May 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-10 16:18:23-04

You go to bed hoping to get a good night's rest and all of a sudden you're being chased. Your heart is racing, and then you're awake.

Nightmares are dreams that have so much fear associated with them that they wake you up out of a state of sleep.

Mr. Michael Breus, The Sleep Doctor, explains the science behind our nightmares in this week's Booming Forward brought to you by Optum.

For starters, what causes nightmares? "We think it has to do with emotional processing of difficult issues. Is the person going through a particularly traumatic time right then?" says Dr. Breus.

Dr. Breus has some recommendations that may help avoid unwelcome dreams.

Number one: don't watch scary movies before bed.

Number two: steer clear from alcohol and spicy food at least ninety minutes before bed.

But, what do nightmares really mean? Dr. Breus says men and women have different types of nightmares.

Men have a tendency to have nightmares about physical situations, running or fighting.

Women's dreams tend to be more emotional, like something going on with their family.

The content of your nightmares can be a signal that you need to work on a personal issue.

But Dr. Breus says no matter what the nightmare is about, it's important to get back to sleep as quickly as possible.

"Count backwards from 300 by threes, you might think, what did he just say? Yes, there is math involved...It slows your thinking down. So it slows your heart rate. And guess what allows the natural sleep process to take back over and be able to fall back asleep," says Dr. Breus.