Whatever has you tossing and turning at night may depend on your gender. Bad dreams and nightmares differ between men and women, according to a recent study published in the journal Sleep.
Researchers at the University of MontrÃƒÂ©al analyzed the dream journals of 331 adults, noting any bad dreams or nightmares. That's right—it turns out the two are actually different. While both are defined as disturbing dreams, nightmares are unpleasant enough to wake the dreamer up, while bad dreams are the ones you remember after your alarm clock goes off.
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Surprisingly, the dream journals revealed that men and women aren't suffering from the same scary, subconscious thoughts. Men's nightmares were more likely than women's to contain themes of disaster and calamity, including everything from fires and floods to war and the end of the world. Yeah, we definitely don't envy them. Themes of interpersonal conflict—like fighting with a friend or being betrayed by a spouse—occurred in about 34 percent of bad dreams for both men and women. However, these were twice as common in women's nightmares than in men's (23 percent for women, 11 percent for men).
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Why are tricky relationship situations keeping more women up at night? The study authors suggest that our emotions probably play a role. For instance, dreams of social conflict may elicit a more intense emotional response in women, leading to a greater proportion of those dreams having a nightmare ending. But even though you're dreaming about accidentally hitting reply all, while he's dreaming of the zombie apocalypse, they're both pretty terrifying in their own right.
So whatever's keeping you up at night, check out our tips for sleeping soundly both solo and next to your partner—because those end-of-the-world dreams will probably involve some middle-of-the-night thrashing.
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