Saturday, February 1, 2014

Not all nightmares invoke fear, study finds



Scientists have been investigating the specific emotions that separate a nightmare from a bad dream.

While most of us will remember waking up in the middle of the night after experiencing a particularly terrifying dream, researchers now believe that not all nightmares involve an element of fear. Instead, up to half of the unsettling dreams we experience may revolve around other emotions such as anger or sadness.

The team collected together more than 10,000 dream reports from 572 respondants and analyzed the emotional aspects of both nightmares (that wake the person up) and bad dreams (that generally do not cause the person to awaken.)

What they found was that nightmares tended to feature some form of physical threat such as being chased or falling from a great height, while bad dreams tended to revolve around some sort of psychological threat such as an interpersonal conflict or public embarrassment.

"Death, health concerns and threats are common themes in nightmares, but it would be wrong to think that they characterise all nightmares," said lead author Dr Geneviève Robert. "Sometimes, it is the feeling of a threat or an ominous atmosphere that causes the person to awaken. "