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Nightmares – Why they happen and how to avoid them

Do you know a good lifestyle is the single most important factor for a life well-lived?

If yes, then you should also know that a good lifestyle constitutes of three main factors – sleep, exercise, and diet. Needless to say, but we don't go the quality in any of these three. It results in a poor-quality of lifestyle and can affect our physical and mental wellbeing in the long run.

Nightmares and Sleep

It is common for people to sleep and dream about different things. When dreams are associated with negative feelings and harbor fear and anxiety, they are called nightmares. These nightmares can become a reason for the poor quality of sleep or reduced sleep time.

Causes of Nightmares

1.      Stress and Anxiety

Stress is a silent killer that can quietly be the sole reason for a disturbing life. Stress and anxiety are also the most common factor behind nightmares. The stress and anxiety that a person might experience in the day can be converted into nightmares at night. These nightmares usually happen when a person is in REM (Rapid Eye Moment) part of their sleep.

2.      PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

PTSD – post-traumatic stress disorder is something that people who have gone through a trauma or an incident might face. One of the most recurring factors in PTSD is that the survivor will have flashbacks or re-experience the whole episode.

It can cause severe trauma, and these flashbacks can also result in nightmares where they re-experience the traumatic incident. Having nightmares due to PTSD can have severe adverse effects on a person – worsening of PTSD, poor quality of sleep, and an increase in depression.

3.      Bedtime Meals

For many people, the cause of nightmares is simple – late bedtime meals. Snacking just before bed or taking proper meals just before bed can cause your brain to stay active and start the metabolism process. All of this can result in low sleep quality and nightmares. The safest way to avoid these nightmares is by eliminating the habit of eating near bedtime.

4.      Substance Abuse

Substance abuse is a common reason for many people facing nightmares. In attempts of withdrawal from substance usage, these nightmares are more likely to get worse. Though, they do reduce a few weeks into getting sober.

5.      Sleep Disorders

Certain sleep disorders can lead to the recurrence of nightmares - sleep apnea is one of them. It is a condition where breathing repeatedly stops and starts. It can result in several things, along with nightmares at night. Another sleep disorder is narcolepsy – it's chronic. It can cause nightmares and also causes hallucination in people.

Prevention of Nightmares

There are several measures that you can adapt to ensure the reduction and prevention of nightmares. A few of them are listed below:

  • Get into the habit of a consistent sleep-wake schedule. Remember, consistency is key.
  • Lower your substance usage.
  • Review your sleep medications with your doctor
  • Try Imagery Rehearsal Therapy for PTSD. Change the ending of your nightmare into a happy one.
  • Seek treatment for your sleep disorders
  • Seek treatment for your underlying health conditions
  • Avoid eating at bedtime
  • Exercise during the day.
  • Use night lights
  • Try to relax and set a mood before you set off to sleep.


Lastly, it is impertinent to remember and practice good sleep hygiene. It will save you from sleep deprivation and will most likely lead you towards a better quality of sleep with fewer or zero nightmares.


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