Soul Searchers, that’s the Psychologists, have propounded that women experience far more nightmares than men do.
The Researchers have explained that women fail to switch off their emotions at the end of the day and they carry forward their worries into nightmares. The Psychologists further added that changes in woman’s body temperature due to monthly menstruation cycles increase the magnitude of their nightmares as compared to the nightmares men undergo.
Nightmare means “a dream full of terror or fear”. It also means “terrifying experience or terrifying thought”. In the latter sense, a person need not necessarily be in sleep condition because the person may pass through terrifying thoughts and experiences even while awake. But the core factor of a nightmare is that it is a dream the contents of which are terrifying and dreadful. Since dreams are visual experiences, nightmares also ought to have to be visual, in essence.
Based on the nature and occurrence, psychologists have propounded several conclusions about nightmares, from time to time. Their assertive versions go like this:
“Prevalence of nightmares varies according to the gender and the age of the sleeping persons; Children between the age group of three and five undergo severe nightmares; Almost 6.9% to 8.1% of the adult population suffer from chronic nightmares; Occurrence of nightmares can be multiple on some occasions or it can be none in other conditions”.
There are number of significant factors in the formation of nightmares: Society, social norms of obeisance and cultural pursuits are important among them. For example, in the so-called advanced society, most people consider that nightmares are indicative of physical and mental health hazards. At the same time, for people who are steeped in religious faiths and superstitious beliefs, nightmares are created by supernatural powers, spirits and ghosts.
All the attributes and explanations to and about nightmares as propounded by the psychologists appear to be silly and difficult for assimilation and acceptance. They are basically subjective conclusions of certain section of the trade who lack awareness of neuro-pathological backgrounds other than the concepts of Freudian psychology. They have arrived at imaginary conclusions based on phenomena rather than reactions of the sensory centers in response to stimuli from both the internal and the external environs.
For example, take the case of children below the age of five. The Psychologists’ conclusion is that these children undergo severe nightmares. When stimuli from external environs disturb the inhibited sensory centres in the cortex of the brain, dreams take place to avoid sudden waking up. As for a child of three or four years of age, it has not fully developed its sensory neural connections through conditioning. All its dreams are therefore connected with basic physical needs such as breathing, blood circulation and ingestion of food. A normally healthy child will have no problems of breathing and blood circulation. Hence lack of timely feed of mother’s milk or other food may logically result in the formation of only pleasant dreams and not dreadful dreams. Same is the case with almost all the subjective conclusions of the Psychologists about the origin of nightmares.
It is a well-known truth that women are more subjugated in the present day social environments compared to men in every area of existence. Whether it is home front, work place or social engagements, women have to undergo lot many regulations, lot many constraints. These environmental restrictions and constraints have their direct impact on the nervous functions and consequential mental attitudes of majority of the present day women. This is one aspect of the situation where women carry more emotions and worries compared to men. But then, all dreams are not formed on the basis of emotions and worries. Moreover, times are changing where women are more or less equal or above the men folk in every day interactions and existential pursuits.
Mental worries and emotions to some extent might disturb continued inhibitory state of the nerve cells, the state which is sleep. The disturbance might consequently result in the formation of dreams and nightmares. The major part of dreams are caused by external stimuli like weather conditions of heat, cold, wind and external disturbances from insects, mosquitoes, sounds, lights and smells. It is therefore not true to suggest that women have more nightmares than men because they fail to switch off emotions at the end of the day or they face more heat during menstrual cycles.
Whether one switches off emotions at night or during day, dreams have nothing to do with the switching on and switching off of emotions. But then, the question remains as to how a person can switch off emotions at intervals as one pleases? The proposition is unscientific and impracticable; it is a wishful thinking because switching off of emotions at will, can seldom happen. Not that is all: Any attempt to keep away worries and emotive thoughts while waiting for sleep will create negative impact: The worries and emotions will become far stronger and long lasting due to the attempt.
The argument about the rising of body temperature during menstrual cycle and its role on women’s nightmares does not go well with facts. During the life-span of a female, the first and the subsequent few more menstruation might be really painful. Once the menstruation cycle becomes regular part of life, it becomes less and less agonizing for the women concerned. In general, dreams whether they are good or bad, are not caused by routine physical conditions. Dreams have no common or specific source: Anything or everything that a person has faced or experienced or heard or even imagined may appear in dreams at any point of time during the life of the individual. Even in such dreams there may not be any clear depiction of what has been faced or experienced or heard or imagined.
Nightmares are dreams. Dreams may be dreadful and fearsome. But they too are part of the dream world. Dream world protects the organism. There is no substance in the findings of the Psychologists that women have more nightmares and men have less night mares. Nightmares do not depend on the gender of the persons.