Watching horror films before bed can severely affect the quality and quantity of your sleep (Uratex, 2018). Love or hate them, horror movies are difficult genre to avoid during the Halloween season. Last year’s horror films brought in $733 million at the box office. These movies however, can seriously disrupt your body clock and sleep patterns.
Here’s what happens to your mind and body:
The sophisticated and compelling fictional scenario’s that film makers create, tap into our primal human responses. After watching a horror movie, paranoia may be apparent. The imagination is a powerful tool and horror movies in particular, plant suggestions or ideas that your mind latches onto. Triggering emotive responses that could cause stress, anxiety and fear, during and after the film has finished.
During times of stress the brain inhibits our parasympathetic nervous system (Sciencedirect.com, 2018) or the “rest and digest” system. It is responsible for the relaxation of the body and in cases of stress it is more likely your body will tense up and prevent the “rest and digest” mode.
After viewing a horror film your mind tends to retain a particularly scary scene and replay it over and over in your head, and combine it with a number of other stressors in your life creating a nightmare. When your mind and body are unable to relax, the body relieves pressure through bad dreams. Such anxiety driven emotions may trigger a fear manifestation in your dreams. Most experts believe that nightmares are caused by everyday stress and trauma (Restonic, 2018).
There are studies (Han, Kim and Shim, 2012) that showcase how stress can also decrease REM sleep, increasing the likelihood of waking up in the middle of the night or experiencing nightmares. Nightmares don’t necessarily last one night, some take longer for our mind to forget. Ultimately affecting more than one night’s sleep, stealing precious hours of rest and recuperation.
The interrupted sleep patterns as a result of watching fear provoking films, can have detrimental affects on your productivity throughout the working week, increasing absenteeism in the work force. Productivity losses account for 68% of inadequate sleep in the Australian Economy (Sleep Health Foundation, 2017).
Regardless of whether you love these goose-bump inducing films, they still affect your sleep (Osman, 2018). All this stress is counteractive to restful, restorative sleep that our bodies desire. Over time we learn to disconnect from fictional stories and realistic threats making it easier to turn off the mind in preparation for sleep (Sleep Health Foundation, 2017).
If you are a horror movie buff and thrive on the thrill, there are a few tips to help get a good night’s sleep.
Plan ahead: If you are planning on watching the latest horror film, plan to watch it at a time that allows you enough sleeping hours in the night. For example, start watching it at 7pm to allow yourself at least 8 hours of solid sleep.
Wind down: To put your mind at peace try some relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga, to keep the imagination at bay.
Avoid stimulant food: If you’re binging on chocolate or other sugary foods whilst watching a horror film, it will take longer for your mind to settle, interfering with your deep sleep.
To alleviate the stressful affects of a horror movie be sure to give these tips a try to help you relax into a peaceful nights sleep.
Fight the fright this Halloween and treat yourself to an amazing night’s sleep.