3. Nightmares are the “garbage disposal” of memory. Your brain is trying to get out unnecessary details and stresses. You don’t need to remember scary details about that horror movie you just watched, so your brain “clears them out” in a nightmare.
4. Nightmares allow you to practice dealing with threats safely. Most nightmares are worst-case scenarios. For example, you may have a nightmare in which you not only forget your pants, but you have to give an important on-the-spot presentation!
If you encounter a less extreme scenario with some of the elements of your nightmare, you’ll be better able to deal with it.
5. Nightmares help you work through anxiety and traumatic events. They draw attention to things which are causing you stress and help you process them.
More frequent nightmares are a sign something is wrong (3) and can be caused by:
- Side effects of medications
- Medical conditions including sleep and psychological disorders
- Excessive stress or anxiety
Have you heard the urban legend that overeating cheese causes nightmares? Turns out it might not be so crazy after all!
Eating spicy or junk foods before bed can also cause nightmares. Just another reason to watch what you eat before sleep!