Unexpected Things That Influence Your Dreams
You know that sounds, smells and situations can invade them and certain medications spin them out of control. But not in your wildest dreams (maybe) did you think these could play a role.
Your Nocturnal Tendencies
If you're a night owl and happen to be female, you're especially prone to having nightmares, Nielsen found. One theory, he explains, is that go-to-bed-late types wake up at an earlier-than-usual circadian phase, in which dreams (or nightmares) are their most intense—and memorable
. Another is that evening types have more REM cycles nightly (that is, more opportunities to have nightmares) than others, especially when they sleep in on weekends. But Nielsen contends that the distressing dreams may be primarily a manifestation of mood disorders such as depression and anxiety, which prey on more owls than larks. The best advice, he says, is to experiment with going to sleep earlier. If that's not realistic, he recommends "imagery rescripting": a technique for "rewriting a bad dream" by reviewing it during daylight hours—usually with the help of a psychologist—and playing it back with a different twist or ending.