Nightmares are vividly realistic, disturbing dreams that rattle you awake from a deep sleep. They often set your heart pounding from fear. Nightmares tend to occur most often during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, when most dreaming takes place. Because periods of REM sleep become progressively longer as the night progresses, you may find you experience nightmares most often in the early morning hours.
People of all ages have nightmares. However, nightmares are more common in children, especially those under age 10. Girls are more likely to be troubled by their nightmares than boys. Nightmares seem to be a part of normal development, and except in the case of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), they usually aren’t symptoms of any underlying medical condition or mental disorder.
However, nightmares can become a problem if they persist and interrupt your sleep pattern. This can lead to insomnia and difficulty functioning during the day. Consult with your doctor if you are having trouble coping with nightmares.
The subjects of nightmares vary from person to person. There are, though, some common nightmares that many people experience. For example, a lot of adults have nightmares about not being able to run fast enough to escape danger or about falling from a great height. If you’ve gone through a traumatic event, such as an attack or accident, you may have recurrent nightmares about your experience.
Treatment typically isn’t necessary unless one may be experiencing long periods of extreme distress or sleep disturbance, which may also interfere with daytime functioning. Before seeking or determining the right route for treatment, it’s important to consider the cause of the nightmare disorder. Once this has been considered, treatment may include:
Nightmares are generally harmless. They occur frequently in children but can also be a problem for adults. It is common to experience nightmares once in a while. A person may have a nightmare disorder if he repeatedly experiences nightmares. This can result in sleep deprivation. A child may be afraid to go back to sleep after an episode. Someone who experienced nightmares the night before may be afraid to go to sleep the following night.
Nightmare disorder is an upsetting condition that’s very difficult for most people to manage. Even an occasional nightmare has the potential to be deeply upsetting and troubling. If you add the consistency of recurring dreams and consistently inadequate sleep to the mix, then you can see how nightmare sleep disorder can make waking life a living hell. The good news is that there are some incredibly effective treatments available for nightmare disorder. Your doctor or healthcare provider will be able to suggest a treatment plan based on your background and symptoms.
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