Here are five scientific findings about nightmares to help demystify your creepiest dreams:
Nightmares may be your brain's way of releasing anxiety.
Recurrent nightmares can be a sign of post-traumatic stress disorder or some other psychiatric health issue, but in most cases they're unrelated to mental illness. In fact, there's nothing wrong with having nightmares -- they might actually be good for you!
A video from New York magazine's Science of Us series, "The Good Side of Bad Dreams," explains that nightmares can act as a way for us to process and let go of our day-to-day anxieties. The mind does this by taking an abstract fear or worry and fashioning a story out of it. That story then becomes a memory that your brain can file away and be finished with.
In addition to fear, nightmares can give rise to a number of other negative emotions, including helplessness, despair, guilt and anger -- possibly allowing the mind to process these feelings as well.
Through these case studies, the researchers identified common themes that come up in people's nightmares -- and there's a good chance you've had at least one of them. Based on this and other research, psychologists have found that the most common nightmare themes include insects and vermin, falling, being chased, death of family and friends, interpersonal conflict and violence, feeling an "evil presence" and health-related concerns.
"Our nightmares pick up on universal fears that people have," Antonio said.
Trying to interpret your nightmares probably won't get you very far.
Sigmund Freud saw dreams as a window into the unconscious mind, and he was fascinated with dream interpretation. The Austrian psychoanalyst believed that all dreams carry information about subconscious (and often sex-related) desires and fears.
Since Freud's time, research has failed to support the idea that dream themes and symbols have universal meanings, and psychologists have all but abandoned the practice of dream interpretation.
So while it may be tempting to turn to that dream dictionary to analyze the images in your nightmares, it probably won't help you decode your dreams in a meaningful way, Antonio said.
"That's not to say that nightmares aren't meaningful," he added. "They certainly are meaningful and they are metaphorical, but the way they are presented varies greatly from person to person."
Men tend to dream of natural disasters, while women dream of relationship troubles.
Apocalyptic dreams of extreme natural disasters or asteroids wiping out the Earth's population aren't uncommon.
In the University of Montreal study, disasters turned out to be a common nightmare theme. Interestingly, the data revealed that men were significantly more likely to dream of catastrophe, with 9.4 percent of men and just 4.7 percent of female participants reporting this theme. Similarly, an earlier study found that men tended to have war and terrorism show up more often in their dreams.
Women, on the other hand, are more likely to dream about having intense interpersonal conflicts.
"Having really severe arguments with family, friends or colleagues is more common in the nightmares of women," Antonio said.
Nightmares are linked to some sleep disorders.
The biggest problem with nightmares is usually that they can impair sleep quality and cause next-day drowsiness. But in some rare cases, it can become more serious.
When nightmares are frequent and severe, the individual may suffer from nightmare disorder. This is a type of parasomnia, a class of sleep disorders that involve uncomfortable experiences while falling asleep, sleeping or waking up.
Other forms of parasomnia include sleep terrors, which cause the individual to sit up and cry out, or to attempt to escape the room, while still asleep. Sleep hallucinations, another rare nightmare-related disorder, occur when a person experiences intensely vivid images while falling asleep or waking up, resulting in feelings of fear or dread.
There are few things more unsettling than experiencing a full-on nightmare, with all the menacing imagery and bizarre dream logic that attend them. But the next time this happens to you, and you wake up in the middle of the night with your heart pounding, just remember you're not alone.
17 Things You May Not Have Known About Horror Movies
Since Halloween is this weekend, E! News put together a list of 31 interesting facts about horror movies. Here are 17 of our favorites:
1. "The Exorcist" is the first horror movie to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. It lost out to "The Sting".
2. In "The Exorcist", Linda Blair's character was supposed to vomit on Father Karras' chest. But the tube they used misfired, and it hit him in the face. So the look of disgust as he wipes off the vomit is genuine.
3. The vomit used in "The Exorcist" consists mostly of pea soup.
4. The blood used in "Night of the Living Dead" is chocolate syrup. Of course, the movie was in black-and-white. (This was actually common in black-and-white films. It was used for the shower scene in "Psycho" as well.)
5. The color red is present in almost every shot of "The Shining".
6. Due to his experience as a volunteer firefighter, Jack Nicholson took down the prop door with the ax in "The Shining" too quickly. They had to switch it with a real door for that scene.
7. While filming "Scream", the actors were never allowed to see the man who voices Ghostface. Director Wes Craven thought it would make their performances more realistic, and so the guy, Roger L. Jackson, would hide on set and actually make the phone calls during scenes.
8. Sissy Spacek slept in her bloody clothes for three days while filming the "Carrie" prom scene in order to maintain continuity.
9. None of the actors and actresses who were playing high school students in "Carrie" were actually teenagers.
10. The original title for "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" was 'Head Cheese'.
11. The original title for "Halloween" was 'The Babysitter Murders'.
12. Church the cat in "Pet Sematary" is played by seven different cats.
13. The story for "Final Destination" was actually an abandoned idea for an "X-Files" episode.
14. "Saw" was filmed in only 18 days. There are no exterior shots because they couldn't afford them.
15. It only took eight days to film "The Blair Witch Project".
16. To make the tension between the actors authentic in "The Blair Witch Project", the directors gave them less and less food each day.
17. You may have heard this one before, but it's still pretty amazing: "Psycho" was the first American movie to show a toilet being flushed. That was in 1960.
These 2 are some of the coolest and most polite and friendly guys I have ever met. They walked in to the meet and greet at the Norva the other night with guitars in hand. Little did we know, we were getting a quick performance of "Say Hey" I Love You. Click the link below to watch.
Four Things That Happen When You Take a Break from Drinking
According to experts, taking a break from drinking can have huge health benefits, even if it's only for a few weeks. Here are four things that happen when you stop . . .
1. You sleep better. Once recent study found that drinking before bed increases alpha wave patterns in your brain, which usually happens when you're awake but resting.
2. You end up with more money in your bank account. If you're not hitting the bars every weekend, or stocking up on wine or cases of beer, obviously you'll spend less.
3. You lose weight. A study in 2013 found that women ate 30% more after they had the equivalent of two drinks. And another study found men consume an extra 433 calories on days they drink a "moderate" amount . . . women consume 300 calories more.
4. Your skin looks healthier. Alcohol dehydrates you, which dries your skin out. Stopping drinking can also help with dandruff, eczema, and rosacea.
About 9 million U.S. adults use prescription sleep aids to ensure quality rest, according to a recent CDC study. But experts caution that sleeping pills aren't always effective or safe, and many think their use should be limited.
So how do you get to sleep when you just can't? These all-natural sleep aids will have you drifting off in no time, no Rx necessary.
13 all natural ways to fall asleep faster
1. Consider Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia or CBT-I is considered the gold standard for insomnia treatment, the method with the most scientific evidence to support it, says Kelly Glazer Baron, Ph.D., M.P.H, a sleep researcher and neurology instructor at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine.
Typically, CBT-I involves meeting regularly with a therapist for various sleep assessments, according to the National Sleep Foundation, and you may be asked to keep a sleep journal and change a number of your sleep habits.
2. Get Out Of Bed
One of the biggest problems people say they have falling asleep at night is that they just can't stop their minds from racing, says Grandner. Without proper time to wind down before hopping into bed, our brains are likely to say, "Well, here's what's on my plate!" as soon as you're under the covers, essentially training us to associate bedtime with fretting, he says. "It's a little counter-intuitive," he adds, "but get out of bed if you're not asleep after 20, 30, 40 minutes." Technically a CBT-I theory, this practice of "stimulus control" can be used by anyone, anywhere, and helps you re-associate the bed with sleep, he says. Do something else for 30 or 60 minutes out of bed until you're really feeling tired, he says. Just make sure it's not something too stimulating or involving bright light.
3. Try Progressive Muscle Relaxation
First developed in 1915, this technique will never get old. "Progressive muscle relaxation is a relaxation exercise in which you systematically tense and then relax all the muscle groups of your body," clinical director of UPenn Medicine's Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program Phil Gehrman, Ph.D., told Everyday Health. "It helps promote overall physical relaxation, which has a number of benefits on its own." It was shown to reduce fatigue and improve sleep quality in a study of women undergoing breast cancer treatment. Give it a try with this simple progressive muscle relaxation practice.
4. Take a warm bath.
You can skip the candles and rose petals, but a soothing soak really can help you get to sleep. That's because relaxing in the tub will raise your body temperature slightly, and when you get out, the rapid cooldown will mimic the natural temperature drop the brain triggers as it prepares for sleep. A small 1985 study found that people who take a warm bath before bed not only fall asleep more quickly, but also report better quality of sleep.
If you'd rather quiet your mind but leave your muscles out of it, a simple mindfulness meditation may also do the trick. A 2009 study found that meditation can help fight insomnia. The researchers found that meditators slept longer and better thanks to the deep relaxation powers of the practice. Try this 10-step meditation for better sleep tonight. If that's not quite your style, even just some deep breathing can help clear your mind and better prepare you for sleep.
6. Break a sweat
Regular exercisers may not realize it, but they're onto something. The physically active report getting better sleep than people who don't work out, according to the 2013 National Sleep Foundation's Sleep In America poll. It seems that the particular timing or form of exercise isn't as important as whether or not you simply move, says Grandner: "The evidence is out there that people who are even getting mild exercise are sleeping better than those who aren't." If that doesn't convince you to exercise even just a little, we don't know what will.
7. Do Yoga
As a form of mind-quieting physical activity, yoga may just be the best of two worlds. And while there aren't exactly scientific studies showing a regular yoga practice can help you get more or better sleep, we do know that yoga does wonders for relaxation. "If your sleep problem is that you're unable to relax, [yoga] could be a way to intervene," says Grandner.
8. Sniff aromatherapy
Whether it's an essential oil, a bath scrub, a sachet in an eye mask or even a pillow or mattress, lavender is the scent you're searching for if you want more and better sleep. In a small 2005 study, a whiff of lavender before bed resulted in more deep sleep. And a 2008 study found that smelling lavender helped a small group of women with insomnia fall asleep more easily, the Wall Street Journal reported.
9. Set Your Bedroom Up For Success
For people with insomnia, "the bedroom just becomes unpleasant, a war zone," says Baron. That's why she recommends making a few simple changes to make it as comfortable a setting as possible. Maybe it's as simple as buying a new set of comfy sheets, she says. Other bedrooms may be too light. Even the faintest bit -- whether it's from behind the drapes or beaming from the alarm clock -- can keep you up. The bedroom should also be quiet; consider investing in a white noise machine or app if it's not. Set the thermostat for a just-right temp somewhere between 60 and 67 degrees. And please, please, please leave the cell phones in another room -- or at least put them on Do Not Disturb.
10. Consider A Supplement
The good news is that most sleep supplements probably won't do harm. The bad news is that they're not very well researched, says Baron, and they're not regulated by the FDA.
"We hear the most about melatonin," she says, "but it's most useful for disorders that affect the body's clock." A small dose can help shift your circadian rhythm if you're recovering from jet lag, for instance, she says.
It's also frequently used wrong, says Grandner. Melatonin doesn't induce sleepiness the way most of us imagine, he says. Instead of right before bed, it's most helpful if it's taken a few hours before bedtime, as the body is just beginning to "ramp up its natural production" of the sleep hormone, he says.
Another supplement option is valerian, made from the root of the herb. Only small studies have been conducted with inconclusive results, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements of the National Institutes of Health. Baron says some people may find it to have a relaxation effect, meaning it could help with more mild sleep problems but probably won't cut it for insomnia, says Grandner.
L-theanine is an amino acid found naturally in green tea that seems to promote deep sleep. Since drinking enough tea to really reap the benefits would have you running to the bathroom all night long, some people opt for a pure L-theanine supplement.
11. Switch to herbal tea.
Caffeine's a no-no, but caffeine-free herbal tea may actually help you sleep. Many "Sleepy Time" teas are made from the same compounds used in supplements that promote sleep, like valerian or chamomile. Plus, there's something inherently calming about a warm sip before bed, even if it's just the ritual of taking the time to do so.
12. Cut Caffeine Earlier
Caffeine has a half-life of five hours, says Baron, meaning five hours after your last cup of coffee, half of its caffeine content is still in your system. Depending on how much you drink -- and how strong it is -- you could find yourself counting sheep when you'd rather be sawing logs. To avoid problems at bedtime, Baron recommends cutting yourself off after lunch.
13. Quit Smoking
Like caffeine, nicotine is also a stimulant, and may lead to sleep disturbances during the night. In 2008, Johns Hopkins researchers found that smokers were four times as likely to say they woke up feeling tired in the mornings than nonsmokers.
Not sure about you're current relationship? Check out these six signs that you're definitely in the wrong relationship.
1. You're settling for Mr. or Ms. 'Good Enough'. If you're settling for someone, you're really just biding time with them because you've gotten comfortable, or are afraid of being alone.
2. They're your harshest critic. If nitpicking and criticism are a regular thing in your relationship, that's not good.
3. You don't share a sense of humor. It might seem like a small thing, but if the person you spend most of your time with doesn't regularly laugh with you, it's a problem.
4. Your personal goals are at odds. The best relationships are built on a strong sense of partnership. And as a couple, you should support each other's goals.
5. You're more in love with the fantasy of who they COULD be than who they really are. When you're in love, it's easy to overlook incompatibilities and think about who they may become someday. But you're wasting your time with that.
6. You need to change who you are to keep them satisfied. No couple in the world loves EVERYTHING about each other. But if they look at you as someone they feel compelled to change, you're in the wrong relationship.
Financial experts say you're probably throwing away a few hundred dollars a year in ways you don't even notice. And you can save a ton of money by changing a few, small things. Here are five of them.
1. Re-think your premium subscription services. You may like having the OPTIONS, but if you're not using them, you're wasting money. How many of those cable channels do you ACTUALLY watch each month?
Do you have unused cell minutes and unread magazines stacking up? Take a good look at what you and your family actively use, then cancel or downsize your plans. If you can live without them, chances are you don't really need them.
2. Buy generic. You may think you're sacrificing quality, but you're not. Fancy brands cost more mainly because of the packaging.
3. Take it easy with coupons. They SEEM like they're saving you money. But they actually make you buy things you normally WOULDN'T, because you're getting a deal.
4. Never pay full retail price. Almost all consumer goods go on sale at some point, and that's when you should buy them.
5. Don't buy suggested add-ons. Rental car workers are trained to get you to buy their insurance, when your own insurance policy probably covers you. Those kinds of extra fees can add-up over time, so learn to say no.
Look, I LOVE WalMart, it's one of my FAVORITE places to shop. I spend SOOOOO much of my hard earned money there, but according to a recent report, there are 10 things you should NEVER buy from there. And they are::
1. High-definition TVs. The prices are decent, but it's because the TVs they sell aren't that great. You can get a better TV for about the same price at Costco.
2. Nuts and seeds. Almonds are about $1.50 a pound at Walmart, compared to a dollar a pound at Trader Joe's.
3. Gift cards. People sell them on sites like CardCash.com for less than face value. For example, you can get a $25 iTunes gift card on there for about 20 bucks.
4. Laptops. You can get a better computer for a better price if you buy it online.
5. Wrapping paper. You're better off going to the Dollar Store.
6. Large appliances, like a refrigerator. Stores like Sears and Best Buy tend to run more sales on appliances, and usually offer free delivery.
7. Batteries. They're a lot cheaper at warehouse stores like Costco and Sam's Club.
8. Sheets. You'll find higher quality ones at stores like T.J. Maxx and Ross.
9. Pre-paid cell phones. They only cost $45 a month, but you don't get great coverage, their customer service is terrible, and the phones themselves aren't great.
10. Groceries. They run a few deals to get people to shop there. But overall, you're better off going to a grocery store.
Don't be embarrassed. We've ALL been there. But the next time you think you're about to have an emotional MELTDOWN at work, here are three things you can do that are more effective than screaming, or going to the bathroom to cry . . .
1. Use the Ten-Ten-Ten breathing method. Breathe in slowly for ten seconds . . . then out for ten seconds . . . and repeat it ten times. It takes almost three-and-a-half minutes, but that's kind of the point. It gives you enough time to reset.
2. Stare at something blue. Studies have shown that looking at the color blue, or touching something that's blue can have a calming effect, possibly because it reminds us of water.
3. Squeeze between the knuckles of your first two fingers. Meaning your pointer finger and your middle finger. Basically, you use your thumb to push down on the side of your middle finger where it meets your palm.
There's a pressure point there that's used in Eastern medicine to relieve stress, and apparently it can lower your blood pressure.
Here are eight foods that can make you look younger . . .
1. Watermelon. It has lycopene, which acts like a natural sunscreen and prevents UV damage. One serving is like putting on SPF 3.
2. Pomegranates. They have a ton of antioxidants that increase collagen production in your skin, to prevent wrinkles.
3. Blueberries. The vitamin C and vitamin E help brighten your skin.
4. Lobster and other shellfish. The zinc accelerates the renewal of skin cells, and it can help with acne.
5. Kale. The vitamin K helps with blood clotting, which can prevent you from getting dark circles under your eyes. It also has a ton of iron, and if you don't have enough iron in your diet, you start to look pale.
6. Cantaloupe. The vitamin A helps prevent your pores from getting clogged.
7. Avocados. The omega-9 fatty acids help your skin retain moisture and look young.
8. Walnuts. The omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E help keep your hair looking healthy. They're also loaded with copper, and researchers think that having a copper deficiency is one of the things that causes grey hair.
The website EatThis.com put together a list of the worst things you can have for breakfast, in different categories. So, things like the least healthy cereal, and worst fast food breakfast sandwich. Here's the list . . .
1. Worst cereal: Honey Smacks. One bowl has 15 grams a sugar, which is more than Frosted Flakes or Cap'n Crunch. And it's coated in partially hydrogenated oil, which has trans fat.
2. Worst donut: Dunkin' Donuts Blueberry Butternut. It has 35 grams of sugar, and 420 calories, which is more than any other donut on the menu.
3. Worst breakfast burrito: Taco Bell's A.M. Crunchwrap with Sausage. 710 calories and 47 grams of fat.
Unless you're eating a whole 12-pack of their Cinnabon dessert things, the A.M. Crunchwrap has more fat than anything else on the menu.
4. Worst fast food breakfast sandwich: The Monster Biscuit from Hardee's and Carl's Jr. It has as much fat and calories as the A.M. Crunchwrap, but TWICE as much salt.
5. Worst breakfast that SOUNDS healthy: A Dunkin' Donuts Multigrain Bagel with Reduced Fat Strawberry Cream Cheese. It's 500 calories, has 17 grams of fat, and is pretty much nothing but carbs.
6. Worst pancakes: Denny's Peanut Butter Cup Pancake Breakfast. They're stuffed with chocolate, and have hot fudge and peanut butter on top. You also get sausage, eggs, and hash browns, so it's 1,670 calories, with 105 grams of fat.
7. Worst omelette: The Chorizo Fiesta Omelette at IHOP. 1,300 calories and106 grams of fat. And you can add pancakes, which is another 700 calories.
8. Worst overall breakfast: The Cheesecake Factory's Bruleéd French Toast. It has 2,780 calories, and as much saturated fat as six cheeseburgers from Sonic.