Nightmares are sometimes helpful

, medical expert
Last reviewed: 25.02.2021

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03 February 2021, 09:00

Doctors all over the world advise to have a full and sound sleep at night, as a quality rest can protect us from chronic stress and cardiovascular pathologies. But for some people, such a rest becomes impossible due to frequent nightmares, after which they regularly wake up in the middle of the night and cannot even fall asleep. Most of us think that nightmares are not good. However, a team of American and Swiss scientists found that there are benefits from such dreams.

In the course of two studies, it was found that negative emotional outbursts in sleep are a specific training of the body in front of real troubles.

Science has been studying the features of human sleep for many years. An extreme study, scientists directed to elucidate the effect of nightmares on human brain function. The goal was achieved: researchers were able to determine the role of such dreams as brain activity.

A little earlier, an experiment was conducted in which 18 volunteers participated. They were connected to more than 250 special electrodes connected to an electroencephalograph, which made it possible to measure electrical brain activity. During the work, the volunteer participants fell asleep, and after waking up, they voiced their dreams and assessed the degree of night anxiety.

Next, the scientists compared the obtained indicators of brain activity and the level of anxiety of the participants, which made it possible to make a very interesting discovery. It was found that during nightmares, certain brain areas called the "islet" and "cingulate gyrus" were stimulated. The islet is responsible for emotional and conscious formation, and the cingulate gyrus determines certain body movements in case of danger. Moreover, these brain zones are responsible for these reactions not only during sleep, but also in a state of wakefulness.

After the first experiment, the scientists proceeded to the second: the participants were asked to keep a diary and write down the details of their dreams and features of the emotional state. The subjects kept such diaries for a week, after which they were shown a number of photographs and videos with elements of violence and other shocking and unpleasant scenes. Electroencephalography showed that participants who regularly experienced nightmares reacted more calmly to the footage shown.

As a result, experts made the following conclusions: nightmares train and temper the nervous system, which subsequently allows people to react less painfully to real stressful situations. Perhaps this conclusion will help in the development of new methods of therapy for anxiety disorders.

In addition, the results of experiments can serve as a basis for new research. After all, nightmares still prevent people from sleeping and often lead to insomnia , which sooner or later negatively affects health.

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