Nightmares tend to occur most often during early morning hours which are around the end of your sleep time. They may vary from person to person. However, there are some common bad dreams that many people experience. For instance, not being able to outrun the danger or about falling from great heights.
Nightmares occur more often especially after traumatic event, such as an accident. You may have dreams about that terrifying experience. Such dreams and night terrors may seem alike as they both cause people to awake in great fear, but they are actually quite different. Night terrors are experienced as feelings, not dreams. In most cases, people do not recall why they are terrified upon awakening. They may have hazy visions at most.
Symptoms of Nightmares
Doctors refer to nightmares as undesirable experiences that one goes through during their sleep time. You’ve had a nightmare if you awake from your dreams, able to recall your dreams clearly, happened near the end of your sleep time or your dreams prevent you from falling back to sleep easily.
Nightmare content varies with age especially for the younger age group, typically becoming more and more complex. For instance, a young child might dream of monsters living under his bed, but an older child might have nightmares about school.
Causes of Nightmares
Nightmares have been associated with late-night snacks based on studies. These snacks increase the metabolism rate and signal the brain to be more active. Some medications are also known to contribute to the occurrence of nightmares. Drugs that have effects on the brain, such as antidepressants and narcotics, are often linked to nightmares.
Withdrawal from medications or other substances such as alcohol or drugs may trigger nightmares. If there’s a difference in your nightmare frequency after taking a medication, consult your doctor for further actions.
There can also be a number of psychological factors that cause nightmares. For example, anxiety and depression can cause nightmares. Post-traumatic stress disorder such as after an accident or an attack can cause people to experience chronic, recurrent nightmares.
Nightmares can also be caused by certain sleep disorders. If no cause can be determined, chronic nightmares may just be another distinct sleep disorder. Nightmare disorder runs in the family, which means people who have relatives with nightmare disorder have higher risks of going through nightmare disorder.
There are certain steps you and your doctor can take to reduce the nightmares and the impact they have on your life. If your nightmares are linked to a particular medication, you should consult your doctor for a change in your dosage or prescription to stop this side effect.
People with sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome should get them treated as they are linked to the occurrence of nightmares. Getting treatment may help alleviate the symptoms.
Make your bedroom a relaxing place that is reserved only for sleep or other relaxing activities, so that you don’t associate it with any stressful activities. Be cautious when it comes to alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine, as they can disrupt sleep patterns and cause nightmares.