What Causes Nightmares?

Many people wonder what causes nightmares. The truth, though, is that what causes nightmares is the same thing that causes dreams: life and our experiences. Often, what causes nightmares is related to either what we’re going through at a certain point in our lives or a traumatic event that keeps recycling in our minds because we haven’t dealt with it.

Many scientists speculate that dreams – and nightmares – are a way of dealing with reality and the information we take in throughout any given day or week. When it comes to what causes nightmares, this is most likely the case, I think. In my opinion, based on the research I’ve done, nightmares are our minds telling us that we either need to deal with the general stress and anxiety in our lives or to deal with the ramifications of a certain traumatic event that has scarred us emotionally and mentally.

The great thing about studying what causes nightmares is that you can often figure out how to stop having them. Recurrent nightmares can be a huge problem for many people, since they can disrupt sleep and just leave you with general feelings of unease or malaise. Once you know what causes nightmares, you’re often able to turn them into dreams, especially when you learn to use lucid dreaming techniques.

What Causes Nightmares: The Most Common Causes

When scientists look at what causes nightmares, they often look at them in two different categories: isolated nightmares and recurrent nightmares. Isolated nightmares happen to everyone, and they can be anything from weird, unsettling dreams to full-out nightmares where you feel terrible emotions because of horrible images or scary situations. Isolated nightmares often come out of general stress and anxiety, and they’re often related to your life or relationships in some way. Sometimes they seem to come out of nowhere, and they could actually just be related to changes in the way your brain is working at the moment because of something you ate before bed!

What causes nightmares is a little more interesting when it comes to recurrent nightmares. These are often the exact same nightmare over and over again. Many people with recurrent nightmares end up with insomnia because they’re so afraid to go to sleep and dread experiencing that nightmare all over again. Recurrent nightmares are more often caused by some sort of acute trauma – an awful or scary experience, a car wreck, the loss of a loved one, etc. – though they can also be tied to other mental problems.

Fixing Nightmares

When looking at what causes nightmares, it’s also helpful to figure out how to get them to go away. No one likes to be frightened or made anxious in their dreams, so it’s important to figure out how to combat nightmares. When what causes nightmares is some deep trauma that has caused mental and emotional scars, therapy is always a good place to start, but lucid dreaming techniques can be helpful as well.

By using lucid dreaming techniques, you can actually get rid of nightmares by changing their course intentionally. It may take a while to learn to do this, but if you can become lucid during your nightmare, you can defeat your monsters or simply change the landscape of your dream into the most peaceful place you’ve ever been.

Remember that no matter what causes nightmares, they’re still essentially a form of dream, and they can still be controlled by lucid dreaming techniques. If you can learn to become lucid in your nightmares, you can change your life for the better by turning all your nightmares into your best dreams.

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"The result of the struggle between the thought and the ability to express it, between dream and reality, is seldom more than a compromise or an approximation." - M. C. Escher