Nightmare Research Paper

Submitted By JordanAnderson20
Words: 1326
Pages: 6

Jordan Anderson
Psyc 2301 - 3H1
Ms. Sledge, TTh, 8:35-10:10

Nightmares The cause of nightmares is a very interesting topic in the field of Psychology. There are multiple definitions of the word nightmare. For this paper, nightmare will be defined as "a disturbing mental experiences that generally occur during REM sleep and often result in awakening" (Schredl, 1). Researchers have learned that the content and cause of nightmares correlates to age, gender, stress, and traumatic experiences. Although many of the studies correlate with each other, the true cause is yet to be discovered. This paper will examine the relationship between nightmares and the field of Psychology. I choose my topic of nightmares, because I was very interested on why they happened and what was their relation to our lives. I used to have nightmares when I was younger, but as I have learned in doing research that is very common among children. I do remember one Halloween after I watched a scary movie, that night I had a nightmare about being chased and killed. I chose this topic because I wanted to learn why my nightmares happened. I knew it was just a movie and I had nothing to fear, but there was something which caused my nightmares and I wanted to learn what that something was. Through multiple studies it was shown that nightmares are related to real life stressors. One very important factor that contributed to the cause of nightmares was age. Nightmares for children are very common because they sometimes do not understand; for example that scary movies are fake and are made to enforce fear. Most adults do not have nightmares after they watch a scary movie, which proves that age does have an influence to the cause of nightmares. Hartmann (1998) believes that the reason why children have more nightmares is because they are vulnerable and uncertain in childhood in general. The themes of children's dreams are very basic and a majority of the time in their nightmares they are being chased by a fictitious monster or something larger than them. It was observed that the complexity of dream themes follows the child's cognitive development and increases with advancing age (Foulkes, 1999). Although, war related dreams are the only exception, because they do not change in content over time. In a study of German men who fought in World War II, these men still had nightmares of war, years after the war was over. Researchers have also learned that gender plays a role in the cause/content of nightmares. Men and women have very different types of fear which causes different nightmares. In a study done by Michael Schredl he observed that "women tended to report nightmare topics such as sexual harassment, close persons disappearing/dying, and teeth/hair falling out more often, whereas physical aggression, loss of job, and war/terror were reported less often in comparison with men" (1). Women have nightmares about what relates to their life, so it is more common for women to have nightmares about sexual harassment, and physical appearance change. Men do not fear the same things women do therefore the content of men's nightmares is different from women's. Men are more likely to have nightmares about being fired and not being able to support their family. Stress is also a major contributor to the cause of nightmares. People with stress in their life are more likely to have a nightmare than someone who is stress free. The reason for the higher frequencies of nightmares is because nightmares are related to real life situations. Individuals who experience high level of stress at work are more prone to have a nightmares about being stressed at work. Say if someone was repetitively late to work and their boss tells them the next time they are late, they are fired. That night the all the individual can think about is not being late, which can cause a nightmare about being late to work and getting fired. One studied showed