How to overcome nightmares and their causes

What are nightmares 

Nightmares can make a person wake up from sleep feeling afraid or anxious. Almost everyone has had bad dreams from time to time, but there are also people who often experience them. To deal with nightmares that occur too often, you first need to find out what causes them.

When having a bad dream, a person will wake up from sleep with various reactions, such as screaming or even crying. Nightmares can also make the heartbeat fast and trigger sweating.

Nightmares often make people who experience them afraid to go back to sleep because they are still imagining the events in their dreams.

Causes of Nightmares

Generally, children experience nightmares more often, but that doesn’t mean adults can’t have them.

Children usually experience nightmares at the age of 2-6 years and the intensity of the nightmares will begin to decrease by the time they are 10 years old. Nightmares usually occur between 4 and 6 in the morning. At least, about 25 percent of children experience one nightmare a week.

In adults, nightmares occur in a variety of ways. Some are very rare and some are experiencing it every week. The triggers for the occurrence of nightmares are many and can be different for each person who experiences them.

Here are some common causes of nightmares:

1. Stress

Stress is one of the factors that can trigger nightmares. Stress can be caused by many things, ranging from pressure at school, moving places, pressure at work, daily problems, to sad events, such as the death of a loved one.

2. Trauma

Nightmares can also be triggered by a traumatic event that has been experienced. A person suffering from PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder is more likely to have nightmares.

This is because traumatic events, such as accidents, injuries, bullying, or sexual harassment that have been experienced, may resurface in memory through nightmares.

Not only appear during nightmares, dark memories that trigger trauma can also appear when someone is awake or daydreaming.

3. Lack of sleep

Changes in sleep schedule that cause irregular or reduced sleep times can cause nightmares. Someone who suffers from insomnia or difficulty sleeping is also more prone to having nightmares.

4. Certain drugs

If you are taking certain medications, it is possible that the drugs you are taking can trigger nightmares. Some types of drugs that can cause nightmare side effects are blood pressure-lowering drugs, Parkinson’s disease drugs, and antidepressants.

In addition, excessive alcohol consumption or drug abuse, such as amphetamines, are also frequent causes of nightmares.

5. Scary books or movies

Watching a movie or reading a scary book before bed can trigger nightmares. This is because scary stories in books or movies can be remembered when we sleep and trigger nightmares

6. Eat close to bedtime

Eating too late at night can stimulate your metabolism and your brain to be more active during sleep, which may trigger nightmares.

How to Overcome Nightmares

In order not to have frequent nightmares, here are things you can do:

1. Enough sleep

So that the quality of sleep can be better and you don’t often have nightmares, try to adjust your sleep time again. It is recommended that you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. If you often have trouble sleeping, try doing habits that make you sleepy quickly or apply sleep hygiene.

There are various ways that can be taken, one of which is to create a comfortable and quiet bedroom. If this doesn’t help, try taking a warm bath, relaxation, or meditation before bedtime.

2. Manage stress

If your nightmares are triggered by stress or anxiety, you can try talking about how you feel with someone you trust, so you can reduce your stress. In addition, also do relaxation by taking deep breaths or meditating.

If various ways to deal with stress have been done, but stress still persists, try to consult a psychologist.

Undergo psychotherapy and take drugs from the doctor

Nightmares due to trauma or certain mental disorders, such as PTSD or anxiety disorders, can be treated with psychotherapy. One of the psychotherapy techniques that can be used to treat nightmares is cognitive-behavioral therapy.

If needed, complaints of nightmares can also be overcome by giving drugs by a doctor, such as trazodone, clonidine, prazosin, and olanzapine.

To overcome nightmares caused by drug side effects, your doctor may make changes to your dose or change the type of medication you are taking.

Nightmares are actually not a serious problem if they only occur occasionally and do not interfere with the quality of life.

However, if nightmares occur so often that they make you sleep-deprived, stressed, daily activities, you should consult a psychiatrist to get the right treatment, either through therapy or medication.

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