With severe cases of nightmare disorder, a person’s ability to function and lead a healthy life is made difficult.
Symptoms of Nightmare Disorder
Nightmare disorder could cause the following:
- The frequent occurrence of nightmares
- Daytime fatigue and low energy
- Sleepiness due to lack of sleep
- Problems with behavior when going to sleep
- Fear of the dark
- Problems with memory and concentration
- Can not stop thinking of images from nightmares
- Major distress and impairment
- Anxiety or persistent fear
- Bedtime anxiety
Nightmare disorder normally affects children, adults can also experience it.
When to Call a Doctor
Since a nightmare disorder can affect the health of both adults and children, and disrupt their daily lives, it is important that affected patients set an appointment with sleep specialists.
Although nightmares may cause extreme distress in children and adults alike, the occasional bad dream is not something you should worry about. However, do seek help when you or a loved one experiences any of the symptoms mentioned above.
Experts will ask for your medical history as a new medication may be causing these frequent bad dreams. You will also have to undergo a physical examination to help the doctors correctly diagnose your condition and provide you with proper treatment.
How to Avoid Having Nightmares
There are certain ways on how to avoid nightmares but do remember that you can not entirely avoid this natural phenomenon. You will still dream and will sometimes get nightmares.
However, doing the following can help reduce the chances of having a nightmare:
- Avoid late-night snacks since eating before you sleep can cause the brain to be more active, which increases your chances of having a bad dream.
- You should also avoid taking narcotics or antidepressants before sleeping as they cause chemical reactions in the brain that are often linked to nightmares.
- Blood pressure medications may also cause bad dreams, so avoid taking them before bedtime.
- Take care of your mental health and get help if you have anxiety or depression as these psychological issues are often connected to frequent nightmares.
- Set a regular sleeping schedule, so avoid taking naps and sleeping late in the day.
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and using cigarettes, especially late in the day.
- Exercise is important. But do it early in the day and not before going to sleep or near bedtime.
- Try to relax before going to sleep and avoid stressful thoughts.
- Avoid scary or stressful TV shows, movies, books, or video games.
Nightmares are a part of life and the majority of adults and children experience them at least once in their lives. Though frightening when one experiences them, nightmares – according to scientists – serve a purpose. Nevertheless, do not be afraid to ask for help if it occurs more frequently, if you suspect a nightmare disorder, especially if it starts disrupting your life. Remember, in some rare instances, constant bad dreams could be a sign of a nightmare disorder, or dream anxiety disorder.
Learn more about Healthy Sleep here.