What is nightmare disorder
Nightmare Disorder: Here's How To Put An End To It
Probably the worst part of nightmares is that the awful feeling you had a moment ago doesn't just go away as soon as you wake up; the dream itself was terrible enough, but now it continues to have an effect all day. And who knows whether after such a night and these fresh memories of what you dreamed - regardless of whether it was about ghosts, three-eyed monsters, giant rabid dogs or whatever - you can even go back to sleep the next evening. Fortunately, if you are one of those unlucky ones who are frequently plagued by nightmares, there are ways to put an end to them.
When it comes to nightmares (and dreams in general), the emotions you feel along the way count more than the strange things that happen in your dream cinema, says nightmare expert Dr. Barry Krakow. "Let's say you had a dream in which you were very angry with a dinosaur," he says. “The animal is, of course, just a pipe dream. But what is real are your feelings - in this case, your anger. You should therefore possibly get to the bottom of her. "
While we all have nightmares at some point, some of us have them more often than others - especially those who are already struggling with mental health problems. So, if you are plagued by very vivid nightmares that affect the rest of your life, you may be suffering from a nightmare disorder. It can also easily worsen other mental illnesses. “Chronic nightmares are detrimental to our health and significantly impair our sleep and thus also our quality of life. They also lead to increased anxiety or depression, ”says Dr. Krakow.
Chronic nightmares can occur after a traumatic experience. In these cases you can contact Dr. Krakow said it could be a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This is especially the case when it comes to recurring terrible dreams in which you go through almost the same scenario over and over again. Insomnia is also common in people with PTSD, which may be made worse by fear of nightmares.
The following may be another cause of nightmare disorder: Some people process emotions in a slightly different way than the majority of us, explains Dr. Krakow. Research has shown that people who often have nightmares tend to be more fearful and neurotic, but also more empathetic and creative than the average person. Lighter forms of stress (e.g. an angry email from the boss) can also make them more prone to this type of sleep illness.
So what are the best things to do when you are affected? Well, there are a few scientifically proven options: One of them is Imagery Rehearsal Therapy (IRT). This technique was developed by Dr. Krakow and his colleagues: developed and is ideally suited for the treatment of a nightmare disorder. As part of such therapy, you talk to therapists about your nightmares and essentially rewrite them into more positive memories.
For example, if your dreams are plaguing you with giant figures appearing on the horizon, your therapist may help you turn them into a peaceful mountain range instead. The following is also very important here: You should play this new version of a terrible dream in your head before you go to bed. If your nightmares are combined with a mental illness or sleep problem (such as severe insomnia or PTSD), it is probably best to take this step with the help of therapeutic guidance. However, if you don't have any other mental health issues, Dr. Try Krakow on your own (using a workbook and audio guide). If this is not how you get rid of your nightmares and you are still having trouble sleeping, you should definitely seek professional help.
There are also other psychotherapy methods that can be useful in this context, such as: B. Lucid dreaming. Like IRT, this activity can help you rewrite the plot of your dreams. Some medications have also been shown to reduce nightmares, especially if you have severe insomnia.
Interestingly, there is also a mysterious link between frequent nightmares and sleep apnea, another sleep disorder that causes people to experience paused breathing while sleeping. In addition, the number of nightmares can be reduced by connecting patients with PTSD-related chronic nightmares to a CPAP ventilator, which regulates breathing while they sleep. The reasons for this are not yet fully understood, but one thing is certain: if those affected can be helped to sleep without breathing problems, other symptoms of their disorder and thus their nightmares can be alleviated.
The bottom line: There is a solution to your common nightmares. If you are also struggling with insomnia or a mental health problem, it is especially worthwhile to seek professional help. This is how you can find out how to make peace with your dreams and get some well-deserved rest.
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