How much do you know about nightmares?

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When your head hits the pillow at night, do creatures lurk? See how much your know about terrifying dreams.

Question 1 of 12

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What's more likely to give you nightmares?

Dream researchers say we need to wake up within 5-10 minutes of having a nightmare or dream in order to remember it. Spicy foods or anything that causes indigestion are more likely to make you toss and turn and wake up during the night. And that ups your odds of remembering scary dreams. Eating close to bedtime has the same effect — and that makes your sleep less restful.

Question 2 of 12

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When do nightmares happen?

During sleep, you go back and forth between REM and non-REM sleep. REM stands for "rapid eye movement," and during REM sleep, your eyes move around quickly. That's when we do all of our dreaming, typically more than two hours each night. Sometimes nightmares can be so bad they wake us up.

Question 3 of 12

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What percentage of adults have nightmares?

Nightmares are more common among children, but half of all adults have nightmares every once in a while. For about 2 to 8 percent of adults, they have a serious nightmare issue and are faced with them on a regular basis when they go to sleep at night.

Question 4 of 12

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Mary Shelley wrote "Frankenstein" after a nightmare.

Mary Godwin was traveling with the poet Percy Shelley (who would later become her husband) and other writers through Europe when one stormy night the group decided to have a contest to see who could tell the best horror story. The scary tales prompted Shelley to have a nightmare which, she said, became the basis for the famed scientist and his monster.

Question 5 of 12

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What is the most common theme of nightmares?

You're not alone if you've had a nightmare about being chased. According to the International Association for the Study of Dreams, that's the most common bad dream. Adults usually dream about being chased by an unknown male figure, while children have nightmares about being chased by an animal or some fantasy figure.

Question 6 of 12

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The word "nightmare" comes from the idea that your bad dreams gallop in at night.

The word has nothing to do with horses. It actually derives from "mare" or "mara," Old English and Old Norse terms for mythological demons or goblins who tormented sleepers, often by sitting on their chests, causing them to have horrifying dreams.

Question 7 of 12

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What percentage of dreams are negative?

Experts who study dreams estimate that about three-fourths of the time, they evoke negative emotions. That could be because we have more nightmares than we have happy dreams. Or it could be because we're more likely to remember unpleasant, scary dreams than nice ones.

Question 8 of 12

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At what age do nightmares typically start?

Dream researchers aren't totally sure on this one. Most cognitive psychologists believe that kids start to have real dreams and nightmares with actual stories when they're about 5 to 7 years old. But there are some who believe that babies dream and many parents of toddlers have been awakened by screams from their children's bad dreams.

Question 9 of 12

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Drugs can trigger nightmares.

All sorts of drugs can cause nightmares or make them worse. Antidepressants and narcotics — drugs that affect the brain — often are linked with nightmares. But other non-brain-related medications such as antihistamines, melatonin and some blood pressure medications can also cause nightmares in adults.

Question 10 of 12

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Who is more likely to have nightmares?

Nightmares seem to be more common with girls than boys and that appears to continue into adulthood. Women report having more nightmares than men. (Or maybe guys just won't admit it when they have them!)

Question 11 of 12

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What impact can nightmares have on stress?

Stress can cause nightmares, but can nightmares cause stress? Some psychologists believe that bad dreams ease tension because your brain gets to act out its fears. But more recent research shows that nightmares may actually increase your real-life anxiety.

Question 12 of 12

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Men and women basically have the same type of nightmares.

Men and women dream differently. According to a recent study in the journal Sleep, men are much more likely to report having nightmares about natural disasters and being chased, while women are more likely to report bad dreams about interpersonal conflict, such as fighting with a friend or a spouse.

You scored out of 12
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