Scientists Just Discovered a Hidden Advantage to Having Nightmares


Those endless labyrinths, ghosts and frightful clowns that haunt your dreams aren't as bad as they are terrifying — they may actually indicate that you're just a creative person, according to New York Magazine.

Previous research has led to two main theories on why people have nightmares: The first is that they're a response to what happens when you're awake, and the second is that they're simulations to help prepare you for handling real-life possible threats.

Recently published research has found that those people who constantly experience nightmares are also good at thinking "outside the box on word-association tasks," according to New York Magazine. This "imaginative richness" from dreaming trickles into our conscious thoughts every day, researcher and Ph.D. candidate Michelle Carr wrote, according to New York Magazine.


Other research, such as that by Ernest Hartmann from the 1990s, supports Carr's by suggesting that people who are notably haunted by nightmares are also more sensitive rather than fearful. However, a 2002 study on kindergarten children linked more frequent nightmares to higher levels of anxiety.

Vivid nightmare-havers also have more positive dreams than the average folk. "The evidence points toward 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," Carr wrote, according to New York Magazine

A 2007 self-reported study of over 1,000 participants who kept dream diaries echoed Carr's sentiment by finding that dreams "that stimulated waking-life creativity" helped with creative work and problem-solving, as well as "emotional insights." 

Read more: Here's Why Your Anxiety Dreams Are Actually Good for You