Sleep Science by: Abigail Gillis

Nightmares, Dreams and Sleepwalking!

Below is a digital version of the poster I created. Hope you enjoy!

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What is a nightmare?

A nightmare is a dream that occurs during REM sleep (rapid eye movement). A nightmare can sometimes reflects on waking metal state. It becomes a nightmare and not a dream when it becomes “scary”.

How is a nightmare caused?

Nightmares can be caused by anxiety of something that happened in the past. Nightmares most often occurs from a traumatic event like a car crash or a war. Healing from the trauma can cause less nightmares to occur. Nightmares can be caused by medications like, antidepressants and/or narcotics. This can cause people to have a hard time figuring out if something is fantasy or reality. It results in feelings of terror, fear and/or anxiety. Stress is a large factor in having nightmares, it is sometimes the reason a nightmare occurs.

What are some positive benefits that come out of having nightmares?

Having nightmares make people more creative because of the weird scenarios. Great stories can come out of nightmares that can be extremely entertaining.

Why do people have recurring nightmares?

Recurring nightmares are a series of nightmares with a similar theme. If you are under the age of 10 then recurring nightmares are normal, unless they begin to interfere greatly with sleep or social development. If recurring nightmares happen as adults it is either linked to stress, trauma and anxiety or a mental health disorder.


What is a dream?

Dreams are a sequence of thoughts and images. As well as nightmares, dreams occur during REM sleep. They can be romantic, adventurous, mysterious and mythical!

How are dreams caused?

While you are asleep your mind is just as active as when you are awake so as your mind is constantly thinking you form thoughts which then create your dreams.

Can you be awake and asleep at the same time and if so, what does that look like?

Being awake and asleep at the same time is called microsleep. Microsleep is partially falling asleep for just a few seconds. Parts of the brain are alert and others doze off to sleep. They can still physically do tasks and have their eyes open, however they may not notice everything around them.

What causes us to not always remember our dreams?

The same part of the brain that collects important and memorable events is working while you are dreaming. It will pick up on any important facts and information. If your brain feels that a dream you had has no important information, you will not remember the dream when you wake up.


What is sleepwalking?

Sleepwalking is a physical activity that people do while asleep, but not in bed. The scientific name for sleepwalking is Somnambulism. It is most common in young children; 1 in 10 children sleepwalk and 1 in 50 adults sleepwalk.

How is sleepwalking caused?

Sleepwalking can be caused by; fatigue, interrupted or insufficient sleep, illness, medication, anxiety/stress, going to bed with a full bladder or it could also be hereditary.

Why should you not wake up a sleepwalker?

Waking up a sleepwalker does not do much, however it can cause harm to the sleepwalker. The person sleepwalking can hurt themselves by being startled or confused. If someone were to wake up a sleepwalker at first they may not know where they are. This can cause them to physically hurt you or themselves.

Is it likely to be sleepwalking and dreaming at the same time, and if so what does that look like?

Sleepwalking most times occurs during stage 3 non-rapid eye movement and dreams/nightmares occur during rapid eye movement stage. These occur at different times resulting in not dreaming and sleepwalking at the same time.

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