Nightmares can be defined as a frightening dream that will awaken an individual from REM sleep. Most people, when asked, will recall the content of the dream, and in some cases, even days after it occurred. If you ask people, almost everyone can recall having had a nightmare, but there are some unfortunate souls who have them with great regularity.
I have had several patients come to me with stories of both nightmares and insomnia. These patients will often present in clinic with:
* An inability to fall asleep.
o This can often be due to fear of having a nightmare.
* An inability to stay asleep.
o This can occur when they are woken up in the middle of the night, from a nightmare and do not want to go back to sleep for fear that the nightmare will continue.
* Restless sleep.
o This is often the accumulation of both of the above situations.
So what are some of the current nightmare treatments available?
Unfortunately, this topic is one that does not have a tremendous amount of research available but here is what we have seen:
Medication: medication has been shown to be both a cause and a treatment of nightmares.
* In some cases, vivid dreams or nightmares have been reported side effects of certain medications.
* While in other cases, certain anti-depressant medications (SSRIs and tricyclics) can reduce the frequency of nightmares by reducing the amount of REM sleep you are getting.
*Work has been done where the person having the nightmare will wake up and write down everything that they can remember about the dream.
* In as much detail as they can, even with the potential horrible endings (people getting killed, loved ones getting hurt, or persecuted).
* Next they collect these dreams over the course of a week or so and create a script as though it were a play or movie scene.
* Finally they CHANGE THE ENDING so that whatever is the horrible consequence is changed so that they become the hero of the dream!
* This new version of the dream is then read, by the person several times right before they go to bed, to influence their dreaming.
So what can you do if you are having nightmares?
* First, realize that this may be more common than you think.
* Next, speak to your doctor about any medication you are taking and be sure to read the package inserts on any medication to see if vivid dreams or nightmares may be a side effect.
* Consider that a drug interaction (two medications together, or a glass of wine before taking a medication) could be causing the effect.
* Consider speaking to a psychiatrist or your general practitioner about a medication to help reduce nightmares by reducing your REM sleep.
* Consider speaking to a therapist about how to begin the journaling process.
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Read the Original Article: Are You Afraid of Sleeping?