When you wake up in the middle of the night because of a bad dream, you probably don’t feel as though you’re living your best life. You’re most likely lying there, eyes wide, praying that you’ll fall back to sleep before the sun rises. However, according to a new study, bad dreams aren’t all bad.
The University of Montreal’s Center for Advanced Research in Sleep Medicine recently asked people who have at least two nightmares every night to participate in a study. To do so, they had to describe their waking daydreams, answer questionnaires, and complete creativity tests. These individuals also allowed researchers to monitor their brains while they napped.
The results are pretty fascinating (and great news for those who deal with frequent nightmares). “The evidence points towards the idea that, rather than interfering with normal activity, people who are unfortunate in having a lot of nightmares also have a dreaming life that is at least as creative, positive and vivid as it can be distressing and terrifying,” lead researcher Michelle Carr wrote in New Scientist. “What’s more, this imaginative richness is unlikely to be confined to sleep, but also permeates waking thought and daydreams.”
In other words, nightmares lead to creativity, empathy, and even positive thoughts and daydreams.
Interestingly enough, Michelle isn’t the only one to come to this conclusion. She adds that, during the 1980s, sleep researcher Ernest Hartmann observed that those with frequent nightmares weren’t always more fearful and anxious. They instead experienced “a dreamlike quality to their waking thoughts” which gave them a “creative edge.”
While this doesn’t change the fact that nightmares can be downright awful, it does make us appreciate them a bit more. Now, when we wake up in the middle of the night because of a bad dream, we’ll relish in the fact that we’re basically basking in creativity.