What To Do To Stop Having Nightmares?
Nightmare disorder is a sleep disorder in which frequent disturbing dreams interfere with a person’s ability to function well during the day or cause emotional distress.
Nightmares typically occur during a phase of sleep called rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. This phase usually occurs relatively late in the sleep period. Often in the second half of the night. Some people may experience multiple nightmares during the night.
For those experiencing the condition known as nightmare disorder, these disruptive nighttime experiences may occur as often as nightly. In addition, they disrupt their daily lives and their mental health in a variety of ways.
Many different factors can contribute to a higher risk of nightmares:
- Stress and anxiety: Sad, traumatic, or worrisome situations that induce stress and fear may provoke nightmares. People with chronic stress and anxiety may be more likely to develop nightmare disorder.
- Mental health conditions: Nightmares are often reported at much higher rates by people with mental health disorders. Like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, general anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. People with PTSD often have frequent, intense nightmares in which they relive traumatic events, worsening symptoms of PTSD, and often contributing to insomnia.
- Certain drugs and medications: Using some types of illicit substances or prescription medications that affect the nervous system is associated with a higher risk of nightmares.
- Withdrawal from some medications: Some medications suppress REM sleep. So when a person stops taking those medications, there is a short-term rebound effect of more REM sleep accompanied by more nightmares.
- Sleep deprivation: After a period of insufficient sleep, a person often experiences a REM rebound, that can trigger vivid dreams and nightmares.
What can you do about recurring nightmares?
Name your fear.
In fact, identifying and managing the biggest stresses in your life can go a long way toward your peace of mind. Ask yourself: what are your biggest worries? What can you do about them right now? As well as, are you willing to make those changes to address the problem?
Don’t avoid sleep, and keep a regular sleep-wake schedule
Avoiding sleep leads to less rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is the stage of sleep where most dreaming happens. When the brain is deprived of REM, it brings REM back with a vengeance later in the night or the next night. This is called a REM rebound effect. The brain gets into REM faster, stays there longer, thus creates more intense dreams.
See a doctor or specialist.
If you believe you are having medication-induced nightmares, you may need the dosage adjusted. When you have persistent nightmares or sleep terrors, you may need to have a sleep study done to identify a problem. If you think your nightmares are linked to anxiety, counseling can be helpful in identifying and managing those fear