Why Do I Keep Having Bad Dreams During The Night?

Everyone sometime or the other during their lifetime may have experienced a bad dream. For some people it may recur repeatedly while in some people bad dreams may be a single episode. Bad dreams are heart pounding and fearful and most often the person awakes with fear and anxiety after the dream.

Usually nightmares or the so called bad dreams occur in REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Most nightmares occur in the later part of sleep meaning in early morning hours. There are vivid varieties of bad dreams and each person may have different type. For example a person may dream of murder while another person may dream of falling from a tall building etc. Bad dream can cause fear, distress and anxiety in a person.

What Are The Causes Of Bad Dreams At Night?

Bad dreams may occur spontaneously without any probable cause. But on the other hand there are many other factors that may also contribute to cause fearful dreams.

  • Bad dreams may occur after eating late at night.
    Eating late can prolong the metabolic process and indicate the brain to work more and be active even if the person has fallen asleep after eating.
  • There are several medications that may be responsible for horrifying nightmares. These medications have chemicals which may interact with brain chemicals to produce unwanted bad dreams during the REM stage of sleep. Most often antidepressant drugs and narcotics are known to be associated with nightmares.
  • Certain anti hypertensive medicines are also suspected to cause scary dreams. If you experience increased frequency of bad dreams after change of medicines, talk with your doctor.
  • Many people may suffer from scary and fearful dreams after withdrawal of alcohol, drug withdrawal, tranquilizers etc.
  • Reduced sleep hours or when a person is deprived of sound sleep for a long time he may have greater susceptibility to experience bad dreams.
  • There are numerous psychological conditions that are responsible for bad dreams. Depressions, anxiety, fear, post traumatic stress disorder may cause chronic bad dreams.
  • A person is more likely to get bad dreams if he has someone in family having the same problem.
  • Sleep disorder such as sleep apnea is also responsible for recurrent nightmares.

How To Stop Bad Dreams At Night?

Fortunately in majority of cases treatment for bad dreams is not necessary. However, if scary dreams occur due to a cause that you know, than addressing it may resolve bad dreams. For example if you have started getting nightmares after taking certain medicine, talk to your doctor. He may switch over to another group of drug. If your bad dreams occur due to certain disorders such as sleep apnea than treating this condition will help to control bad dreams.

Often the underlying cause may be stress and depression. Management of stress and anxiety can reduce the episodes in such cases. Learn yoga and meditation as they are relaxing to mind and body. You can hear soothing music or take a warm bath before going to bed. Avoid reading or watching things that may cause fear and anxiety during your sleep. Avoid drinking alcohol and caffeinated drinks before going to sleep.

Counseling may be necessary in some chronic cases where the underlying cause is a serious traumatic event.