What is Nightmare Disorder?
By Ama H. Vanniarachchy
Nightmares could be depressing. A dark dragging dream, you being chased or scared of the unknown, and waking up panting and sweating is greatly daunting. These nightmares could be so realistic it could take a few minutes for you to figure out what is happening; where are you, or to figure out if this is a dream or a reality. After being awakened shocked, drenched in your own sweat, and a panting heart, you might not be able to fall asleep for a while. Sometimes, the next day you might feel exhausted and disturbed. Such is the way of nightmares.
Nightmares are bad dreams that are disturbing, make you feel sad, scared, and worried. They disturb sleep. Nightmares can happen to anyone at any age and occasional nightmares are not a reason to worry. But, if they occur quite often, deprive you of a sound sleep, and keep you awaken in the middle of the night panting and lost; then it is a reason to worry. Such nightmares may have a negative impact on your mental as well as your physical health. That is when you should worry about nightmares. This situation is called Nightmare Disorders. To understand more about this let us find out why nightmares occur and when to worry about them.
What is nightmare disorder?
Nightmares may happen when you are stressed or depressed or overloaded with work at home, school, or work. According to mayoclinic.org, although nightmares are common, Nightmare Disorder is a relatively rare situation and is surely a situation that you should take into consideration. It further says that a Nightmare Disorder is when nightmares happen often, cause distress, disrupt sleep, cause problems with daytime functioning or create fear of going to sleep.
How to know if it is nightmare disorder?
If you are experiencing nightmares every other day and awakens scared and feeling lost, then it is a reason to worry about. In severe cases, they may occur several times a night and as continuous episodes. Also, these dreams seem to be so vivid and realistic you end up being confused for a few seconds trying to figure out what is actually going on. If your nightmares occur frequently and if they are;
- Vivid and detailed
- The feelings of the dream are very real
- Feeling unsafe or threatened or vulnerable in the dream
- Waking up exhausted, sad, confused, and scared
- You are sweaty
- Your heart is beating fast and loud
-You can clearly remember details of your dream and the feelings very realistically
- Remaining stressed for the rest of the night and even the next day If this happens frequently and makes you feel exhausted and fatigue is a reason to worry. Also, if you have frequent nightmares, if it scares you off going to sleep, if it makes you reluctant to go to sleep, then it is considered a disorder.
Also, if the dream keeps you disturbed or shocked or distressed the next day if you feel down, it is hard to concentrate, and if it develops a fear of the dark and night time, then, it is a situation of a Nightmare Disorder. In the worst case, this may lead a person to develop suicidal thoughts eventually. Hence, Night time disorder should be taken into consideration and see a doctor if the above-mentioned situation has arisen. The many reasons that cause Nightmare Disorder
- Physical or sexual abuse/ injuries
- Undergoing medication
- Drugs and alcohol
- Watching disturbing movies/ TV-shows/ or reading such books or stories
- Underlying diseases
The problem with nightmares is that they affect your quality of life. Comfortable, sound sleep is a must for your mental and physical life. A night of disturbed sleep is not at all comfortable and it may mess with the daytime including your professional and personal life. Hence it is important to address the causes of Nightmare Disorder.
What you can do before you sleep?
As the pandemic is messing with our daily lives, it may be another risk to go visit a doctor. Also, it may be that the pandemic situation is causing nightmares as people are heavily stressed these days. So, there are few things that you can follow at home to avoid nightmares, and keep your mental and physical health balanced and relaxed. Here are a few ways to do so.
- Detox your mind at the end of the day before you go to sleep
- Meditate a few minutes before you sleep (concentrate on your breathing or spread loving compassion)
- Do yoga before your sleep
- Eat a light dinner and finish your dinner early
- Have a relaxing hot bath before you sleep
- Make sure your bed is not cluttered with books
- Keep the bed clean and comfortable
- Avoid listening, watching, or reading things that will disturb you or keep you thinking about them
- As you refresh and shut down a computer at the end of the day, learn to relax, refresh and fully calm your mind and body at the end of the day
- Keep your bedroom clean, tidy, calm and dark =Avoid loud music while sleeping
- Learn stress managing and time management to lessen your daily stress and workload.
Remember that Nightmare Disorders cannot always be psychological, as they can sometimes be a reason for some underlying physical illness or physical pain. Therefore, it is important to keep track of your sleep and nightmares and see a doctor if there seems to be no improvement.