Monday, September 12, 2011

Night owls have more nightmares, study claims

The early bird might catch the worm because it sleeps better than the night owl, not just because it awakens earlier.

At least that appears to be the case for humans, according to a new study.

Researchers found that night owls -- “evening-type individuals”-- are significantly more likely to suffer from poor sleep quality, daytime sleepiness and disturbing nightmares than early birds -- “morning-type individuals”-- or folks whose bedtime falls somewhere between the two.

“Evening-type people have more nightmares because of their sleep patterns,” says lead author Yavuz Selvi, assistant professor of psychiatry at Yuzuncu Yil University in Van, Turkey, whose paper was published online Aug. 25 in the journal Sleep and Biological Rhythms.

Staying awake late at night and waking up late in the morning disrupts the relationship between the body’s internal clock and its ability to maintain normal sleep patterns, Selvi explains. In other words, it really screws up your circadian rhythm.

Nightmares usually awaken you, so if they occur frequently, you might begin to fear falling asleep, cutting into your snooze time even more. Epidemiological studies have found that nearly nine in 10 adults reporting having at least one nightmare in the previous year, Selvi says, with 2 percent to 6 percent reporting weekly nightmares.

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