Por que temos pesadelos? | Nível avançado

Cientistas dizem que não deveríamos ter medo dos nossos pesadelos. Será?


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Why we shouldn't fear our nightmares


During the pandemic, people started having weird dreams. The effect was more present in those particularly affected by the virus and in countries with strict lockdown measures. For people on the frontline, the dreams became nightmares. Of 114 doctors and 414 nurses working in the Chinese city of Wuhan, more than a quarter reported having frequent nightmares.


People living under regular stress are more likely to have nightmares. And children are particularly susceptible because their brains are still developing. And while nightmares are strongly linked to many mental illnesses, some vivid dreams help us to process the emotions of the previous day.


While we sleep, we organize and file away our memories of the previous day and give our older memories a bit of a dust-off and reshuffle. In the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage (just before we awake or as we dip into sleep), we store our most emotional memories. These become the subject of our dreams.


How about nightmares?

It's one thing having the odd beneficial bad dream and another entirely having chronic nightmares. With nightmares the process seems to be stuck. Your brain might intend to process an emotional event, but it gets stuck because you wake up in the middle of it so you don't see it all the way through. Once you have nightmares over a long period of time they become a kind of habit. Teaching chronic nightmare sufferers how to take control of their bad dreams by lucid dreaming helps. These treatments focus on finding ways to make sure patients sleep through the night without waking, giving their brains the rest they need to improve their cognitive function.


In some diseases, nightmares are a way to access bigger problems. In patients with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), for example, if you fix the nightmares first, you can fix other symptoms, like depression and addictions.


So next time you have a bad night's sleep, think of it as your brain's way of regulating your emotions by tearing up the receipts for the previous day's stresses. Scientists say you should only be concerned if nightmares are regular or if they start to affect your health. For most people, the odd bad dream might be a good thing.


Texto adaptado de artigo da BBC. Você pode ler o original aqui.

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VOCABULARY


To file away (phrasal verb)

To put a file in a place and store it.


Dust-off (noun)

Removing the dust, sometimes in order to use something again.


To reshuffle (verb)

To randomly mix, shuffle, organize something in a new way.


To dip into (phrasal verb)

To lower something into something, usually a liquid, for a moment before taking it back out again.


To tear up (phrasal verb)

To reduce a piece of paper into pieces.

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