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This is what your dreams mean

LIFESTYLE
By Gardy Chacha | October 25th 2013

By GARDY CHACHA

NAIROBI, KENYA: While for a long time scientists have believed that interpretation of dreams is nothing but astrological hocus-pocus, a team of researchers have now discovered that dreams do really have tangible meaning in life.

Bad dreams, for instance, have been connected to an existing heart or chest problem.

According to a study of more than 6,000 people published in the Netherlands Journal of Medicine, an irregular heartbeat increases the risk of nightmares threefold, while suffering from chest pain increases it sevenfold.

The researchers explain that this could be because people with heart problems are more likely to suffer from breathing problems, which may lower oxygen levels in the brain.

Nightmares can also be a warning of an impending migraine as they also point to a problem in the head.

Being drunk towards sleep has been found to cause a surreal half-sleep, half-awake state, triggering bizarre dreams, postulated Dr Patrick McNamara, a neurologist from Boston University Medical School.

Medication too can cause certain types of dreams.

Like the anti-malarial drug mefloquine was found to trigger long dreams with lots of colour and unusual characters.

The researchers argue that drugs disrupt levels of the brain chemical acetylcholine, which play a crucial role in controlling dreams.

Professor Horne, who took part in the studies, adds that menstruation too can lead to certain types of dreams.

“Some women say that they have more dreams around the time of their period. This could be because they get very uncomfortable, with bloating or cramps, causing them to wake up more.”

Acting out stressful dreams, such as when you’re being attacked or chased, can be an early sign of a brain or nerve disease like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, says Dr Oscroft, another scientist who took part in the analysis of the study results.

Psychologist Ian Wallace adds that dreams of a sexual nature increase as we get older, and are particular common among the over-60s. “Many of my clients in their 60s and 70s report having these. The dreams don’t actually represent anything about their sex life, but are connected to increased creativity.”

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