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Feature - Spooky dreams may be just what the doctor ordered

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11/4/2011 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Ghoulish figures, demonic clowns, man-eating zombies and vampires. There was enough frightening stuff out there this Halloween that even the most fearless may have been spooked this year. So which of these nightmares are still keeping you up at night? For some individuals out there, Halloween was not their only nightmare of the year. As many as 25 percent of the adult population will wake up after an intense and fearful vision brings them out of their rest. In fact, almost three percent of adults were reported to have nightmares frequently to always, based on the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM-IV-TR." The Wilford Hall Clinical Health Psychology Center at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, which specializes in behavioral sleep medicine, defines a nightmare as a frightening and complex dream that may lead to being awakened from sleep. These dreams are often a lengthy, elaborate dream sequence that is highly anxiety-provoking or terrifying. They may also become a beneficial habit after a traumatic event that leads to post-traumatic stress disorder and a way of processing the event. After time, these nightmares actually are reduced to being just a bad habit and involve the individual reliving the traumatic event multiple times over again. "Many people do not realize that frequent nightmares may be able to be treated at one of our behavioral sleep clinics," said Capt. (Dr.) JoLyn Tatum, a Wilford Hall Clinical Health Psychology Center fellow. "We treat nightmares as a behavioral problem and use a form of treatment called 'imagery rehearsal therapy' in our 'Nightmare Class' offered at the clinic." The Nightmare Class was developed from the studies of Dr. Barry Krakow, the Maimonides International Nightmare Treatment founder and a board certified sleep disorders specialist. Dr. Krakow developed the technique of imagery rehearsal therapy, which basically consists of educating the individual on how to change the frightening imagery through techniques of rescripting the nightmare.


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New Research

Posted in In the News

by Barry Krakow, MD | PubMED

Prevalence of sleep breathing complaints reported by treatment-seeking chronic insomnia disorder patients on presentation to a sleep medical center: a preliminary report.

PURPOSE: Few studies have examined the co-morbidity between insomnia and sleep-disordered breathing in the clinical setting. This study evaluated treatment-seeking insomnia patients and their self-report of sleep breathing complaints.

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7 Signs You're Overstressed: Learn the Truth Behind Hives, Memory Loss, Pain, Fatigue, and Painful Periods: Crazy, Surreal Dreams

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Crazy, Surreal Dreams When your mind gets overloaded with anxiety and doesn't know how to process it, a bad dream can be its way to work through the stressful experience so it becomes less threatening, explains Barry Krakow, MD, medical director of the Maimonides Sleep Arts and Sciences in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Nix It: Think of the dreams as free psychotherapy, a possible clue to what's making you tense, and a suggestion on how to deal with it. Focus on how you felt in the dream. If you were afraid or embarrassed, consider why. Then ask yourself what makes you feel the same way in real life. For example, you might realize you've said or done something embarrassing at work and need to apologize to someone or be more careful. If bad dreams are starting to interfere with your sleep, occur nightly, or are truly disturbing, you may need professional help to sort things out, says Dr. Krakow.


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REM Sleep State Takes Edge Off Painful Events

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When a physician at a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in the Seattle noticed a blood pressure drug was preventing recurring nightmares a UC Berkeley researcher got interested in why. Turns out the drug suppresses the neurotransmitter norepinephrine and that during REM sleep norepinephrine goes down so that the brain can process painful memories in order to take the edge off them the next day. So in the REM sleep state it appears the brain processes emotionally difficult experiences to enable you to better handle these memories the next day.

They say time heals all wounds, and new research from the University of California, Berkeley, indicates that time spent in dream sleep can help.

UC Berkeley researchers have found that during the dream phase of sleep, also known as REM sleep, our stress chemistry shuts down and the brain processes emotional experiences and takes the painful edge off difficult memories.

The findings offer a compelling explanation for why people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), such as war veterans, have a hard time recovering from painful experiences and suffer reoccurring nightmares.They also offer clues into why we dream.

"The dream stage of sleep, based on its unique neurochemical composition, provides us with a form of overnight therapy, a soothing balm that removes the sharp edges from the prior day's emotional experiences," said Matthew Walker, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at UC Berkeley and senior author of the study to be published this Wednesday, Nov. 23, in the journal Current Biology.

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Spooky dreams may be just what the doctor ordered

Posted in In the News

US Air Force

by Jon Stock - Air Force Surgeon General Public Affairs

11/4/2011 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Ghoulish figures, demonic clowns, man-eating zombies and vampires. There was enough frightening stuff out there this Halloween that even the most fearless may have been spooked this year. So which of these nightmares are still keeping you up at night?

For some individuals out there, Halloween was not their only nightmare of the year. As many as 25 percent of the adult population will wake up after an intense and fearful vision brings them out of their rest. In fact, almost three percent of adults were reported to have nightmares frequently to always, based on the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM-IV-TR."