Chances are you’ve had at least one nightmare before – and perhaps even one bad enough to wake you up from your slumber. While nightmares are common, nightmare disorder is (luckily) not.
What is nightmare disorder?
According to the Mayo Clinic (cited below), “Nightmare disorder is when nightmares happen often, cause distress, disrupt sleep, cause problems with daytime functioning or create fear of going to sleep.”
For those with the disorder, the bad dreams ten to occur in the second half of the sleep cycle. And while they’re brief, they’re bad enough to wake you up and cause enough anxiety to prevent you from getting back to sleep. You may even experience a slowly unfolding nightmare that gets worse as it continues or one that causes you to suffer from palpitations.
This disorder is only diagnosed in people who have frequent enough nightmares that it interferes with their normal days due to distress or lack of sleep. In children, it can lead to a fear of the dark or behavioral problems.
Music for nightmares
According to Smithsonian Magazine, there is new hope for sufferers of nightmare disorder, who may number somewhere between 10 million in the U.S. alone.
A study showed those people might be able to take charge of their dreams and change their tone using music.
“Sounds played during sleep may reduce the frequency of nightmares and promote positive emotions that can help lead to a better slumber. Existing therapies coach sleepers to imagine and rehearse alternate happy endings to their nightmares before bed, a practice known to significantly reduce bad dreams. Now, Swiss scientists aim to supercharge this idea by associating those happy endings with an audio cue that will trigger them during sleep. When nightmare disorder sufferers listened to a piano chord while they practiced imagining a good dream, then heard that same chord while they were in REM sleep, bad dreams were frequently kept at bay.”
This is called imagery rehearsal therapy (IRT), and it’s a cognitive-behavioral technique that only takes about 5 or 10 minutes a day. — WTF fun facts