We’ve all had nightmares at some point in our lives. Several people are plagued with them as if they were in a film caught in some sort of terrifying loop destined to repeat itself while others are fortunate enough to hardly ever have one. Yet, we really don’t put much emphasis into the origin of the word “nightmare”. Many of us shudder at the mere thought of even considering it. So quick are we in wanting to forget such frightening visions, but the truth of the matter is that the word “nightmare” dates back from Old English times when the word “mare” referred to folkloric demons that terrorized people by sitting on their chests while the individuals slept, causing them to have haunting dreams. These so-called demons were often thought to be incubi and/or succubi. The prefix “night” was later added to articulate the dream condition.
Nightmares, as we all know, can cause us to awake abruptly in cold sweats with palpitating heartbeats. Sometimes they can be so disturbing and vivid that the horrifying dreams can linger in our minds all throughout the waking day. Studies report that they happen mostly during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and that we are more apt to remember nightmares than we are the more pleasant dreams.
It’s interesting how the mind works, how each and every one of us reacts to something that can leave such an impact like a nightmare. They can be so daunting that nightmares can even lead to insomnia. What causes such startling hallucinations in our sleep? Several things actually from living a stressful life that one’s subconsciousness can weigh heavily on the slumbering mind, drugs like antidepressants can also contribute to nightmares and many people even claim having scary dreams after eating late night snacks.
A lot of times, nightmares (or any other kind of dreams for that matter) can reflect feelings that a person subconsciously may not even be aware that exists. For example, let’s just say that an individual has a nightmare that involves a threatening storm with a huge house crashing down upon them. Does it literally mean that this will happen to them in real life? Let’s hope not! But it could possibly symbolize that there may need to be a change in the structure of their waking life. However with this subject, it taps into the discussion of dream analysis and that’s a whole other topic.
The way our subconsciousness works can certainly be full of loaded questions with “one of a kind” answers for everyone is different in their own unique way. How we all handle things can be compared to fingerprints, there are no two that are just alike. I’ve had my share of frightening dreams, but the way I’ve dealt with them was by bringing them to life with paper and pen, giving birth to the poems and stories that I’ve so happily created.
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~ Sheila Renee Parker on Twitter @sheilarparker.