Are nightmares caused by adrenaline or vice-versa?

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I had this dream. Simple and short and woke me with a start. I walk outside the front door at night with my two small dogs so they can pee. It isn't dark in the yard or in the neighbor's across the street due to a large street lamp the neighbor has at the corner. I can't see beyond the corner, it's all dark there.

The dogs are sniffing around and doing their thing. I notice a rabbit half hidden by a small bush. Then a couple more by a tree. Then more further away under another tree. The dogs become alert toward the dark and neighborhood cats come running into the yard from the dark and Harry starts to bark. I'm straining to see what's caused the commotion and a wolf is walking into the yard.

As I turn and run inside I see a full grown lion charging (at me or dogs). I'm in and I want to close the door but the dogs are a yard or so from the door and not moving. I know the lion has had time to get them and I'm calling them in fear knowing I'm about to shut them out.

Suddenly Peanut runs in front of Harry inside (very uncharacteristic of her) he runs in behind her. I shut the door before a house cat can follow them. It jumps on the door. Then I wake. I'm not afraid of anything in the dream before the wolf and lion. So did chemicals cause the adrenaline to cause the dream or did the dream cause the reaction to cause the rush?
 
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jim mcnamara
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Basically, your response to the dream "imagery", since it was scary, resulted in your adrenal system triggering the fight or flight response. You just scared yourself awake, so to speak. This happens, especially to young children, but nobody is immune to it. No worries.

This is a nuts and bolts discussion: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2917081/
PTSD and some other problems make this system go into overdrive.

If you do a search for 'Adrenal response to dreams' you will get a huge amount of woo-woo stuff. Some actual science is out there as well.
 

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