What It Really Means When You Have A Nightmare

Nightmares: Most of us have been dealing with them since we were children, but that doesn't mean we will ever get used to them. They are definitely unpleasant, but does that mean they are a sign that something is wrong? Not necessarily.

A person may have a nightmare disorder if he or she persistently has intense nightmares, to the point that it interferes with daily life. Definitely talk to your doctor if your nightmares are disruptive and persist over a long period of time, lead to mood problems during the day, or cause you to fear going to sleep (per Mayo Clinic).

However, it is normal for a person to occasionally suffer nightmares. While only 5% of people have nightmare disorder, roughly half of adults report having nightmares at least once in a while (via Everyday Health). That may be reassuring, but it raises another question — why do nightmares happen to so many people?

The reasons behind nightmares are up for debate

Nightmares are mysterious, provoking debate even among experts. According to Healthline, some experts believe that nightmares are your brain's way of confronting emotional conflict, or preparing you for potential threats.

Oftentimes, nightmares are simply the result of anxiety, stress, or inadequate sleep. A person may be more likely to have nightmares if he or she has recently experienced a traumatic event, or has a mental health condition such as depression. Medications for physical and mental conditions may also trigger nightmares (per Mayo Clinic).

According to Psychology Today, some steps to prevent nightmares include reducing alcohol intake and maintaining a proper sleep schedule. Alternatively, your nightmares really could just be the result of the scary movies you like to watch, and in that case, the solution would simply be to avoid frightening material, especially before bed. Typically, nightmares are normal and not a cause for concern, but if they become disruptive, it may be time to talk to your doctor.