Thirty years ago, I went camping in northern Arizona. The first night, through the open tent flap, I saw a man 20 yards away in the forest, rushing towards the tent through the trees. A butcher knife flickered in his hand.
My heart pounded. The man came closer and closer as I lay frozen in terror. I finally starting screaming and woke myself up.
I woke in the same tent, in the same forest, having just had a nightmare so frightening I would remember it clearly 30 years later.
Nightmares are defined as “disturbing mental experiences that tend to occur during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and that often result in awakenings from sleep.”(1) You are fast asleep, and terror takes over.
Sometime people experience nightmares as recurring dreams — dreams of similar content that occur repeatedly. Like dreams of low-flying planes that eventually crash. Over and over.
Characteristics of Nightmares(1)
- Dream sequences that seem real and increasingly terrible.
- Dreams accompanied by negative emotions: anxiety, fear, terror, anger, rage embarrassment or disgust.
- Dreams containing a threat of Imminent danger.
- If following a traumatic experience, a dream may contain realistic details and the feeling of reliving the event.
Risk Factors for Creepadelic Dreams
Certain circumstances and health conditions are conducive to troubled sleep.
- Anxiety and depression
- Pregnancy and postpartum issues(4)
- Late-night snacks(2)
- Sleep disorders such as restless leg syndrome or sleep apnea(2)
- Medications such as antidepressants, narcotics and statins for high blood pressure(5)
How to Protect Your Sleep from Slashers, Plane Crashes and Spider Attacks
1) Practice good sleep hygiene.
1) Nightmares & Other Disturbing Parasomnias. AASMnet.org. Retrieved March 2, 2016.
2) A Bad Dream Is More Than Just A Dream: The Science Of Nightmares. MedicalDaily.com. Retrieved March 2, 2016.
3) Dealing with grief and bereavement—The FamilyHealth Guide. harvard.edu. Retrieved March 2, 2016.
4) Pregnancy and Birth Spur Anxiety Dreams in Mom. MedPageToday.com. Retrieved March 2, 2016.
5) Nightmares in Adults. WebMd.com. Retrieved March 3, 2016.