NIGHTMARES & NIGHT TERRORS
Reprinted with permission from the book DREAMING, SLEEPING & ESP
Ernest Hartmann, author of "The Nightmare" reports that not more than one in every 200 adults has nightmares on a regular basis.
Sleep researchers estimate that 50% of the general population have no nightmares at all while 5% to 10% report them once a month or more.
Dream researchers distinguish "nightmares" from "night terrors".
Night terrors are typically abrupt awakenings during the first couple of hours of sleep ... they usually occur in deep, slow-wave sleep. The sleeper wakes in terror with body movements, sweating, a scream or cry for help. Pulse and respiratory could double during the 30 seconds (approx.) of awakening.. Usually the dreamer does not remember the terror and does not know what to make of it.
Nightmares, by contrast, usually occur late during the night and during the REM portion of sleep. The nightmare often occurs during a longer than usual period of REM sleep (20 to 30 minutes) and occurs during the last three hours of sleep. Pulse and heart rates may increase but not nearly as much as during a night terror.
The person awakening from a nightmare usually remembers the dream as vivid and intense which ends with a frightening sequence.
Nightmares are far more frequent in children (3 to 6 yrs old) than in adults.
There is no solid evidence that eating something disagreeable will cause nightmares or will a lack of oxygen. One thing that does seem to cause nightmares is a physical illness. Also, depression and the onset of mental disorders are associated with the onset of nightmares.
To treat nightmares we suggest a stress reduction program to eliminate mental and physical anxieties.