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Fuel
11-22-2002, 12:49 PM
are there any documentations of people, old or young, dying from being scared to death of their own dreams? how about premanent damage to heart? i just had a nightmare last night that, when i woke up, i thought my heart was gonna explode it was beating so hard and fast! this can't be healthy!

not particularly worried about this, just curious.

tcdaniel
11-22-2002, 01:06 PM
People die in their sleep all the time, but it would be very difficult if not impossible to prove their dream caused heart failure since you can't tell anyone about your "killer" dream and you're dead. The med. examiner doesn't look for something he can't find. That would make a good movie about a scientist who examined the dreams and thoughts of the dead.

I had a very frightful dream once that made me jump up in a total panic. It was an either jump or be eaten alive situation dream.

Even if this is possible, there is anti-nightmare dream pill available to prevent what you dream, so maybe that's why we say "Sweet Dreams".:)

Fuel
11-22-2002, 01:24 PM
i'm sure docs could tell, from their body chemistry, if their sleeping patients died right after severe paranoia or high blood pressure. (ie. adrenaline)

Fuel
11-22-2002, 01:30 PM
or victims' sleeping partners could testify that they were having a nightmare and then died shortly thereafter.

KneadToKnow
11-22-2002, 01:31 PM
That may be the case, Fuel, but I think the point made above is that you'd have a tough time connecting one thing to the other.

Zelmph(!)
11-22-2002, 02:28 PM
Slight hijack: Could doctors really measure if someone was experiencing paranoia? I know that it's possible to infer some things from brain chemistry (little seratonin could indicate depression), but is there any way to diagnose mental states based on chemistry?

andymurph64
11-22-2002, 03:30 PM
I don't see why it couldn't happen. I've heard of people having heart attacks from being scared while awake. I can imagine that someone being surprised in a dream could have the same response.

Fuel
11-22-2002, 07:20 PM
Originally posted by KneadToKnow
That may be the case, Fuel, but I think the point made above is that you'd have a tough time connecting one thing to the other.

it would be tough to connect wife having a viscious nightmare and then dying from heart attack at the age of 30?

slipster
11-22-2002, 07:26 PM
It may be that your experience was a form of "night terror". There are various terms for this. Such conditions are more related to physiology than to dreaming, although the condition may lead to disturb dreams. That is, you don't have a racing heart because of a nightmare, rather, your heart speeds up from a physiological cause and you get bad dreams in reaction.
You may wish to see a doctor if this recurs.

Such experiences sometimes involve a short-term paralysis upon waking. While readily explained by medicine today (and the physiology of sleep has made tremendous advances in just the last couple of decades), night terrors were long a subject of superstitious awe and were associated with possession, or at least harassment, by spirits. The word "nightmare" apparently referred orignially not to bad dreams, but to the experience of awakening suddenly and feeling as though a horse were standing on your chest. I recall reading once that the term "the old witch" was used in connection with night panics and paralysis in some parts of New England.

There are anecdotal accounts of people apparently dying from a nightmare but one can't really prove things one way or another. First there is the question of whether the story really happened, and then one has to be able to claim you know the person wouldn't have succumbed to a heart attack, a burst aneurism, or whatever, except that they were having the dream.

I dimly recall a small human interest story in the paper back when Skylab was expected to fall--I believe that was in the summer of 1979. The family of an elderly man (in the Phillippines?) said that he started screaming "Skylab! Skylab!" in his sleep and then died.

When I was a kid (in the 60s) it was a firmly extablished article of playground medicine that if you died in your sleep and didn't wake up immediately then you "had" to die in reality. From personal experience I know this is not true. I was also told from the same sources at about the same time that drinking ice water when you were very hot could give you a heart attack, that farting and belching at the same time caused all of the air to rush out of your body so that you imploded, and that a piece of chewing gum, once swallowed, remained in the digestive tract for seven years.

manhattan
11-22-2002, 07:34 PM
Am I nuts, or did Cecil answer this question.

OK, only answer the second question.

But I could have sworn he did, but it's not in the archives I can find. And I'm away from the books. Can someone check? Thanks.

Eats_Crayons
11-22-2002, 07:41 PM
I think the part that would be hard to connect would be as tcdaniel said to prove you were having a nightmare. No one else can be in your head to know for sure you were having a mortally scary dream.

Somebody could be there watching you toss and turn and then assume that your tossing and turning was a nightmare, but then it could also be that your tossing and turning was related to your discomfort from heart palpitations.

If you were being monitored more scientifically (brainwaves, REM sleep and such) then maybe...

Besides that, with the nightmare/heart attack combo: assuming you could prove someone was definitely having a nightmare, how would you know that the nightmare caused the heart attack and not the other way around?

I've had bad tummy aches and had wicked nightmares (and I don't think mightmares tend to give you tummy aches). And with one bad bout with the flu I ended up having violently awful dreams.

It wold be really tough irrefutably connecting one to the other. You'd have to speculate a lot and that doesn't go over well with "documented cases."

I'd say it's possible that it happens, but very, very difficult to prove with acceptable certainty.

Eats_Crayons
11-22-2002, 07:47 PM
Originally posted by manhattan
Am I nuts, or did Cecil answer this question.

OK, only answer the second question.

But I could have sworn he did, but it's not in the archives I can find. And I'm away from the books. Can someone check? Thanks. I think the Great One dealt with the question "if yo're killed in your dream, do you die in real life?" I did a quick search of the archives, but didn't find it. I'll check Snopes.

Pushkin
11-22-2002, 08:31 PM
Urban Legend perhaps but I do recall that the Nightmare on Elm Street movies were based on the story of a boy who croed out in his sleep and was found dead, supposedly of a bad dream.

clairobscur
11-22-2002, 10:15 PM
Originally posted by Fuel
or victims' sleeping partners could testify that they were having a nightmare and then died shortly thereafter.



Normally, when you're dreaming, you can't move (don't know the english word for this phenomenon), so usually, your sleeping partner would be unaware that you were having a nightmare...

butter pie
11-22-2002, 11:07 PM
I can personally testify to both heart palpitations and stress causing bad dreams (not necessarily the other way around), as well as that dying in your dream doesn't mean you die in reality. Unfortunately I'm all to familiar with the sensations.

Fuel
11-22-2002, 11:22 PM
wow. the idea of heart palpitations causing nightmares is intriguing. i actually would tend to believe this, rather than the other way around. i have a documented heart palpitation. i learned about it a year ago, and the doc said it's nothing serious. sometimes i feel a little irregularity and it goes away, a quick thing. happens about every other day that i actually notice it, usually happens at night i have realized. very odd.

any other info on this would be great. i hope i'm alright..... i have nightmares about every month or two where i actually scream out loud...... heart is always cranking at full steam when i wake up. those dreams usually come in waves of 2-3 a month, then not again for a while.

GusNSpot
11-23-2002, 01:59 AM
Originally posted by clairobscur
Normally, when you're dreaming, you can't move (don't know the english word for this phenomenon), so usually, your sleeping partner would be unaware that you were having a nightmare...

I don't know about that. I have done some real strange things that were acting out parts of a dream I was having. The wife can attest to this. I have a lot of dreams and I remember a lot also. Always have. I even have had some luck with control of them sorta. All kinds - repeats, colo, B/W, just all kinds. Some nightmares and some just a kind of scary action dream. But I do move a lot. YMMV

LadyMack
11-23-2002, 02:14 AM
Have there been any documented cases of the wife killing the husband, when he has one nightmare too many...??

:D

Eats_Crayons
11-23-2002, 10:34 AM
Originally posted by clairobscur [/b]
Normally, when you're dreaming, you can't move (don't know the english word for this phenomenon), so usually, your sleeping partner would be unaware that you were having a nightmare...
Originally posted by GusNSpot
I don't know about that. I have done some real strange things that were acting out parts of a dream I was having. The wife can attest to this. I have a lot of dreams and I remember a lot also. Always have.
[b]clairobscur is correct, remember Clairo wrote "normally" you can't move when you're dreaming. When we sleep, part of the brainstem, the Reticular Activating System, kicks into paralyze voluntary muscle movements -- this is to specifically keep us from wandering around acting out our dreams.

If this function isn't quite working properly (it's serotonin based, so if the chemistry is a little wonky...), we'll act out some of the movements in our dream. Usually, it's smaller stuff -- I once dated a guy who had violent nightmares and you had to be careful that he didn't smack you in his sleep -- at it's most extreme, you'll start sleepwalking.

Cecil did a column about the effect of the opposite: when you wake up, but you're still paralyzed. The column describes the chemistry pretty well.

[url="http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/mastral.html"http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/mastral.html[/url]

Eats_Crayons
11-23-2002, 10:36 AM
Shot! That was http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/mastral.html

MustangSpirit_WildnFree
05-28-2003, 12:25 AM
Originally posted by clairobscur
Normally, when you're dreaming, you can't move (don't know the english word for this phenomenon), so usually, your sleeping partner would be unaware that you were having a nightmare...

Normally, yes you don't move in your sleep...actually can't. BUT there are circumstances that allow you to This site has more information on night terrors and such (http://sleepdisorders.about.com/library/weekly/aa050602a.htm) I have had experiances where my ex-fiance has litterally had to hold me down to keep me from hurting myself by acting out a dream. So there are instances where your spouse or partner would know for sure if you were having a nightmare

Horatio Hellpop
05-28-2003, 01:13 AM
I've had dreams where I fell from a tall building and hit the ground, and I'm still alive. Not often, but once or twice. The bit about "If you don't wake up before you hit the ground in your dream, you die for real" is a plot device for stories, not grounded in actual medical fact.

doctordoowop
05-28-2003, 03:07 AM
There is a dexamethasone suppression test. It is complicated to explain, but if positive, & assuming no serious physical problems, it is very specific -95% accurate -to diagnose bi-polar disorder.(manic-depressive), & those folks are frequently paranoid. BTW, of all people who die in their sleep, it is not from a nitemare (but how do we know?) & is most likely to occur from about 3AM-5AM. I recall being taught this, but have no cite.