DALLAS—Night owl Leete Jackson has a hard time falling asleep--and when he enters never never land it's all too often interrupted by a nightmare.
It's usually the same theme--walking, windows and faces he can't put a name to. The ending is never good.
"Inevitably I will wake up right before something drastic would happen, like someone with a knife or something like that," Leete said. "It feels like somebody is following me or chasing me."
A new study appearing in the Journal Sleep and Biological Rhythms found that Leete isn't alone.
Turkish researchers studied the sleep habits of 246 university students and found that those who considered themselves to be night owls tended to have more nightmares.
Sleep expert Dr. Nabeel Farah of Sleep Medicine Consultants of North Texas said there may be a connection between the stress hormone cortisol and REM sleep cycles which night owls have more of.
"They are having a longer period of time to have any kind of dream," Dr. Farah said. "It's not surprising that if you spend more time in dream sleep then you are going to have a higher percentage of nightmares."
Dr. Farah said that 80% of adults report having at least one nightmare a year.
While daytime stress and anxiety may play a part--sleep is still in many ways the final frontier.
"We don't even know what the purpose of dreaming is," Dr. Farah said. "In many ways and there is a lot of research that needs to be done on dreaming itself, much less nightmares."
Nightmares can turn into a vicious cycle--some people don't want to sleep because of the nightmare that may follow.
As for Leete--he's sought professional help but still the nightmares come.
"There is no going back to sleep after having a nightmare for me," Leete said. "It will make you pop right up and not go back in that state of sleep, that's for sure."