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Having the occasional nightmare is normal and experienced by over half of the population. A variety of events and disorders cause nightmares and frequency varies between individuals. Children have nightmares more often than adults. Only two out of every twenty-five adults experience reoccurring nightmares compared to a third of children and adolescents.

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1. Nightmares and Night Terrors

Nightmares usually involve realistic, vivid imagery and intense emotions including guilt, sadness, anxiety, and fear. Anger is also an intense feeling expressed in nightmares, but many professionals in psychology and psychiatry consider anger a secondary emotion prompted by other feelings.

Nightmares happen towards the end of the sleep cycle during the rapid eye movement, or REM, phase. Night terrors are often called nightmares, but they are different. Night terrors occur halfway through the sleep cycle and cause sleepers to wake up suddenly with an inexplicable feeling of fear or terror. Nightmares are structured with recognizable imagery or events, although people can't always recall details. Night terrors do not have a structure or recognizable imagery.

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