General, Research, Technology

How are nightmares useful?

Everyone in this world is simply obligatedsleep at night, because a good rest protects us from deadly cardiovascular diseases. However, some people cannot fully sleep due to nightmares in which they see bloodthirsty vampires and other evil spirits. Many might think that the dreaded horrors do only harm our body, but scientists from Switzerland and the United States have revealed a very useful function of nightmares. As a result of two experiments, they found that experiencing negative emotions during sleep, we prepare ourselves for the troubles in real life.

Photo from the filming of "A Nightmare on Elm Street"

Scientists from all over the world study human sleep onfor many decades. Judging by an article published on the website of the University of Geneva, in a new study, Swiss scientists and their American colleagues decided to find out how nightmares affect the work of the human brain. This goal was quite easily achieved in one experiment, so the researchers decided not to stop there and found out the role of scary dreams in human life.

One of the most common nightmares is falling from high altitude.

Why do you have nightmares?

But let's start in order. In an initial experiment by Swiss scientists on the effects of nightmares on the brain, 18 volunteers took part. 256 electrodes were connected to their heads, which led to the so-called electroencephalographic apparatus for measuring the electrical activity of the brain. During the study, the participants in the experiment were sleeping, and upon awakening, they talked about their dreams and the presence or absence of anxiety during rest.

By the way, sleepy paralysis often interferes with night sleep. You can read about this terrible phenomenon in our special material.

By comparing brain activity with duration andthe level of anxiety of people during sleep, scientists made a very interesting discovery. It turned out that during nightmares in the human brain, two areas are activated under the names of the islet and the cingulate gyrus. It is known that the islet plays a large role in the formation of consciousness and emotions, and the waist gyrus is sometimes responsible for body movements in dangerous situations. It is noteworthy that these parts of the brain are responsible for fear, not only in sleep, but also during wakefulness.

The location of the islet lobe of the human brain

The benefits of nightmares

After this discovery, scientists launched anotheran experiment in which participants were required to keep diaries in which they recorded the essence of their dreams and the emotions they evoked. After a week of keeping a diary, participants were shown unpleasant images with violence and other shocking content. Brain scans showed that volunteers who often had nightmares reacted much more calmly to the images.

Do you remember your worst nightmare? Tell us about him in the comments or in our Telegram chat, it's really interesting!

From this, scientists concluded that nightmaresas if they temper a person and in the long run help to survive stressful situations in real life. It is believed that this discovery will allow the development of new methods of treating anxiety disorders. In addition, the results of the study can become the basis for new scientific works on the study of nightmares, which, despite their identified benefits, still interfere with people sleeping.