When do nightmares occur?

Sleep of a healthy person is divided into two phases. The first one is a sleep of NREM (non-rapid eye movement). The second one is sleep of REM (rapid eye movement). While REM sleep isn’t typically divided into stages, then NREM, because of the participation of the slow waves, is divided into four stages. Normally NREM takes 80-100 minutes, then is followed by REM sleep, which takes about 15 minutes. These phases are repeated after each other cyclically during the night. Adult man will experience from 4 to 6 such cyclical phases in his sleep. During both, REM and NREM, you can experience dreams, however most often they are formed in the REM stage, which is identified with dreaming and therefore nightmares.

Who suffers from nightmares the most?

In general, nightmares are a common issue among the population [1, 2]. They occur in about 2 − 8% of adults, although their prevalence tends to decrease with age, being more frequent during childhood (19% of children experience nightmares at least once per week) [3]. Nightmares are also correlated with various diseases such as PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) or depression. Depending on the severity of PTSD, nightmares are reported by 19 − 71% of patients [4].

What are the causes of nightmares?

Dreams are mainly based on our sub-consciousness. Everyday life, our problems, our memories, our past and our plans for the future – those are the elements which create dreams. It means that if you experience an upsetting, stressful moment in your life, it is more likely for nightmares to occur. What’s more, even high-fat or spicy food can influence your sleep and cause terrifying dreams.

Irregular sleep and sleep deprivation also contributes to bad dreams. Side effects of medicaments like antidepressants, blood pressure drugs, beta blockers, pills used to treat Parkinson’s disease or to help you stop smoking may be a trigger for nightmares.

What is a nightmare disorder?

According to the 10th revision of the ICD (International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems) – a medical classification list created by the WHO (World Health Organization) – nightmare disorder is characterized by a repeated occurrence of frightening dreams, which lead to awakenings with a detailed reminiscence of the nightmare . Nightmare disorder is a complex problem and an independent risk factor for suicide [5].

Proven & safe: theory behind the Nightly

Our technique is based on research revealing that, meaningful, external stimuli can be incorporated into dream content [6, 7]. In case of nightmares, usage of a positive stimuli can change the dream content and improve patient’s quality of sleep.

All you have to do is choose one of our carefully designed video themes. Video with positive tone stimuli is played before sleep and then, at night the app plays specific sounds at specific moments of your sleep so that your brain does not create nightmares.

Nightly prevents nightmares in 85%+

We are not only researching and exploring sleep theory but we have also tested the app with real-life people who suffer from frequent nightmares. Our study was conducted over the period of six weeks, being split into two-week long series. After each night participants filled in a questionnaire referring to their well- being, level of regeneration after sleep, remembering dreams with their description. They also declared whether their sleep was disturbed by any sounds from the application. Total results show that using the Nightly app reduces amount of nightmares in 85%+ of cases.

Nightly was tested clinically

We also performed tests in clinical conditions to make sure that Nightly doesn’t change your sleep architecture or worsen sleep quality. The study was recorded using polysomnography. During that recording patients were connected to EEG (Electroencephalography), EOG (Electrooculography), EMG (Electromyography) and EKG (Electrocardiography). This study was divided into three parts, each lasting three nights (summing up to 27 nights). The total number of 10 participants were examined. Results of polysomnography showed that Nightly doesn’t change sleep architecture and actually improves sleep quality. Moreover, Nightly significantly reduces awakenings.

[1] Krakow B, Haynes PL, Warner TD, Santana E, Melendrez D, Johnston L. Nightmares, insomnia, and sleep- disordered breathing in fire evacuees seeking treatment for posttraumatic sleep disturbance. Trauma Stress. 2004; 17: 257-268.

[2] Langston TJ. Nightmares and sleep quality in children and adolescents: a comparison based on trauma status (Phd dissertation) USA: University of Tulsa; 2007.

[3] Abdel-Khalek AM. Prevalence rates of report nightmares in a cross-sectional sample of Kuwaiti children, adolescents, undergraduates, and employees. Sleep Hypn. 2010; 12: 13-22.

[4] Maher MJ1, Rego SA, Asnis GM. Sleep disturbances in patients with post-traumatic stress disorder: epidemiology, impact and approaches to management. CNS Drugs. 2006; 20(7): 567-590.

[5] Jstrm N, Hetta J, Waern M. Persistent nightmares are associated with repeat suicide attempt: a prospective study. Psychiatry Res. 2009; 170(2-3): 208-211.

[6] Rahimi, Sadegh et al. Sophisticated evaluation of possible effect of distinct auditory stimulation during REM sleep on dream content, International Journal of Dream Research;Oct2015, Vol. 8 Issue 2, 146.

[7] Dement, W., & Wolpert, E. A. (1958). The relation of eye movements, body motility, and external stimuli to dream content. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 55, 543-553.

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