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Sleep: Do You Often Experience Nightmares? Here Are The Causes & Treatment

Read this article, to understand the many causes behind nightmares and how they can be treated.

Sleep: Do You Often Experience Nightmares? Here Are The Causes & Treatment

Sleep: Nightmares may be one of the symptoms of mood disorders such as depression

A nightmare is a frightening dream that causes you to wake up and is connected to unpleasant emotions like fear or worry. Children frequently experience nightmares, but anyone can experience them. Typically, occasional dreams are nothing to be concerned about.

Children between the ages of 3 and 6 may experience their first nightmares, which tend to lessen by the time they reach 10. Some individuals experience them as adults or their entire lives. Read this article, to understand the many causes behind nightmares and how they can be treated.

What are the causes?



Doctors refer to nightmare conditions as parasomnia, a sort of sleep disorder that comprises unpleasant experiences that happen as you're going to sleep, sleeping, or waking up. Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is the stage of sleep when nightmares typically happen. There is no known specific cause of nightmares.

Numerous things might cause nightmares, some of these being:

1. Triggered by trauma

After an injury, accident, sexual or physical abuse, or other traumatic incident, nightmares are frequent. People who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder frequently experience nightmares (PTSD). As mentioned above, this trauma can be triggered by both physical and mental stress.

2. Mood disorders

Sometimes everyday concerns, like a conflict at home or at school, might set off nightmares. The same thing might happen when there is a significant shift, like a move or the loss of a loved one. Dreams are more likely to occur when anxiety is present. Adults who experience nightmares may be affected by a variety of psychological triggers. For instance, anxiety and despair can result in nightmares in adults.

3. Poor sleep

Adult nightmares, which frequently result in people losing more sleep, may be caused by sleep deprivation. It has not been established whether this cycle can cause a nightmare problem, but it is conceivable. Changes in your routine that disrupt or shorten your sleep or that generate irregular sleeping and waking hours can raise your risk of nightmares. Nightmare risk is higher in individuals who experience insomnia.

4. Withdrawals

Nightmares may be caused by drug and substance withdrawal, including alcohol and tranquillizers. Consult your doctor if you experience fewer nightmares after changing your prescription. You can also consult a doctor regarding nightmares caused by withdrawal post-substance abuse.

5. Sleep disorders

Certain sleep disturbances can lead to nightmares in adults. These include restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea. Chronic nightmares may indicate a specific sleep disorder if no other reason can be found. A person's likelihood of developing nightmare disorder may increase if they have relatives who do.

How can it be treated?

For nightmares, treatment is typically not necessary. However, it is important to address any underlying physical or mental health issues. Here are some ways in which you can reduce nightmares:

  • Your doctor can suggest blood pressure medication if your nightmares are the result of PTSD. This form of the drug is effective in treating PTSD-related dreams, according to a new study.
  • Your doctor could advise stress-reduction strategies, counselling, or treatment with a mental health professional if a mental health condition like stress or worry appears to be causing the dreams.
  • Therapy using imagery might also be beneficial. In imagery rehearsal therapy, the ending of your recollected nightmare is changed while you are awake to make it less dangerous. This technique is frequently utilised with persons who experience nightmares as a result of PTSD. The new ending is then practised in your head. This strategy might lessen nightmare occurrences.
  • There are several further things that you can do on your own to possibly lessen the frequency of your nightmares. It's crucial to follow a consistent wake-sleep pattern.
  • You must try exercising regularly, which will help reduce the stress and worry that might cause nightmares. Yoga and meditation might also be beneficial to you.
  • Keep in mind that excellent sleep hygiene will help avoid the lack of sleep that might cause nightmares in adults. To prevent yourself from associating your bedroom with stressful tasks, make it a peaceful, relaxing space that is just used for sleeping.
  • Use caution while consuming substances like alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine because they can stay in your system for longer than 12 hours and frequently cause sleep disorders.

Keep these things in mind if you have been experiencing nightmares.


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Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for a qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.

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