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Alternative Names : Dreams – bad; Bad dreams
Definition :Nightmare is the term currently used to refer to a dream which causes a strong unpleasant emotional response from the sleeper, typically fear or horror, or the sensations of pain, falling, drowning or death. Such dreams can be related to physical causes such as a high fever, or psychological ones such as psychological trauma or stress in the sleeper’s life, or can have no apparent cause. If a person has experienced a psychologicaly traumatic situation in life, for example, a person who may have been captured and tortured the experience may come back to haunt them in their nightmares. Sleepers may waken in a state of distress and be unable to get back to sleep for some time.
It is a dream occuring during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep that brings out feelings of strong fear, terror, distress, or extreme anxiety. Nightmares are usually in the latter part of the night and wake up the sleeper, who is able to remember the content of the dream. It is Night terror & Sleep disorders
Nightmares tend to be more common among children and beome less frequent toward adulthood. About 50% of adults have occasional nightmares, women more often than men.
Eating just before going to bed, which raises the body’s metabolism and brain activity, may cause nightmares to occur more often. Adults who have repeated nightmares that become a significant problem should seek help.
Anxiety and stress are the most common causes of nightmares. A major life event occurs before the nightmare in most cases.
Other causes of nightmares include:
*Illness with a fever
*Death of a loved one (bereavement)
*Reaction to or side effect of a drug
*Recent withdrawal from a drug, such as sleeping pills
*Excessive alcohol consumption
*Abrupt alcohol withdrawal
*Breathing disorder in sleep (sleep apnea)
*Sleep disorder (narcolepsy, sleep terror disorder)
If you are under severe stress, you should ask for support from friends and relatives. Talking about what is on your mind can really help. Also, follow a regular fitness routine, with aerobic exercise if possible. You will find that you will be able to fall asleep faster, sleep more deeply, and wake up feeling more refreshed. Learn techniques to reduce muscle tension (relaxation therapy), which also will help reduce your anxiety.
Practice good sleep hygiene. Go to bed at the same time each night, and wake up at the same time each morning. Avoid long-term use of tranquilizers, as well as caffeine and other stimulants.
If you noticed that your nightmares started shortly after you began taking a new medication, contact your health care provider. He or she will let you know how to stop taking that medication if necessary, and recommend an alternative.
For nightmares caused by the effects of “street drugs” or regular alcohol use, ask for advice on the best ways to quit. An Alcoholics Anonymous group, for example, might suggest a safe way for you to stop drinking without putting your health at risk. You can also attend their regularly scheduled meetings. See also: Alcoholism – support group.
Also, look at your lifestyle — friends, work, family — to find and change factors that encourage substance abuse.
When to Contact a Medical Professional :-
Occasional nightmares are commonplace, but recurrent nightmares can interfere with sleep and may cause people to seek medical help. A recently proposed treatment consists of imagery rehearsal. This approach appears to reduce the effects of nightmares and other symptoms in acute stress disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder
Contact your health care provider if:
You have nightmares more often than on a weekly basis
Nightmares stop you from getting a good night’s rest and keeping up with your daily activities for a prolonged period of time .
What to Expect at Your Office Visit :-
The doctor will examine you. The physical exam may include physical, neurological, and psychological tests.
You may be asked any of the following questions:
*Do you have nightmares often (recurrent)?
*Do they occur in the second half of the night?
*Do you wake up suddenly from sleep?
*Do the nightmares cause you intense fear and anxiety?
*Do you remember a frightening dream (one with vivid images and a story-like plot)?
*Have you had a recent illness?
*Did you have a fever?
*Were you in a stressful situation recently?
*Do you use alcohol? How much?
*What medications do you take?
*Do you take “street drugs?” If so, which ones?
*Do you take natural supplements or alternative remedies?
*What other symptoms do you have?
Tests that may be done include:
*Blood tests (such as CBC or blood differential)
*Liver function tests
*Thyroid function tests
If therapies for stress and anxiety, medication side effects, and substance use do not treat the problem, your health care provider may want to send you to a sleep medicine specialist for a sleep study (polysomnography). In very rare cases, patients need to take special medications that suppress or reduce REM sleep to prevent nightmares .
Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose