What Causes Nightmares and How to Get Rid of Them?

What causes nightmares

After you wake up, it is common to remember your dreams. However, if you’re having a nightmare it will be a bad dream that makes you wake up during the night. It’s normal to have nightmares once in a while, it’s more common around children in the 3 to 6 range. This is likely because they’re both at an age where their imagination is developing and they have trouble separating reality from a dream. Adults also tend to experience them more when they’re feeling stressed or undergoing emotional upheaval.

Is nightmares a cause for worry?

Nightmare frequency varies from person to person and does not necessarily signify underlying issues. If nightmares are recurrent and disruptive, one should consult a psychotherapist for help exploring the issue further.

Factors that can disrupt sleep?

  • Stress and anxiety

Stress and anxiety have a negative impact on our sleep cycle. For example, too much stress and anxiety can make it harder to fall asleep or stay asleep through the night. Furthermore, obsessive rumination & periods of insomnia that are causing stress together can lead to nightmares.

  • Certain medications and medical conditions

Some of the people that need medication such as beta-blockers, antidepressants, corticosteroids, statins and have conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus may also experience sleep difficulties. They may be tired during the day because these medications can interfere with quality sleep too. Cholinesterase inhibitors are a drug treatment for people with dementia, which can have a number of side effects. For example, it might result in vivid and unpleasant dreams or difficulties sleeping.

  • Sleep deprivation

Changes in sleeping patterns and insomnia can increase the likelihood of experiencing nightmares. Doctors might prescribe medicine or recommend other changes to lifestyle if it is a chronic condition.

Disturbing content

Research suggests children are more prone to nightmares after watching disturbing content. It’s also been observed that scary movies may lead to bad dreams and nightmares in adults, too.

How do you deal with nightmares?

It is normal to have bad dreams from time to time, but these are not the same as nightmares. Bad dreams are not related to being awake and don’t always happen at night. Nightmares often occur in the early hours of the morning and are often luckily forgotten after waking up.

Nightmares are very common in people who suffer from PTSD, since they have experienced trauma’s in life or were serving in military war zones. Research indicates that 80-90% of people suffering from PTSD experience such nightmares. As long as the problem doesn’t show up often, taking measures such as resting or using medicines may be sufficient: 

  • Practice yoga and brisk walking for 20 minutes daily
  • Spend time in the sun or take vitamin D supplements
  • Try supplements such as B vitamins, ashwagandha, and melatonin to lower stress 
  • Eat small non-spicy meals 
  • Listen to peaceful music before sleep. Sometimes you’ll have a bad dream and will wake up in the middle of it. However, these kinds of dreams are called “bad dreams”. If this is happening often, it’s worth speaking to somebody about it. Nightmares are different because they’re known to stop sleep.
  • Try to establish a regular sleep schedule by going to bed at the same time each night and waking up at the same time every morning. 
  • Some research suggests that less than 1 hour before bed may reduce your risk for insomnia and protect your sleeping hours.
  • It’s important to cut back on late-night snacking & alcohol consumption. Instead, drink a glass of warm milk before bed.
  • Wear comfortable clothing 

If you are having trouble sleeping, try not to worry. It can take up to 30 days or more for some people to establish a regular sleeping pattern.


Nightmares are disturbing dreams that can leave you with a negative feeling afterwards. They can cause sleep deprivation, which can in turn lead to depression. Doctors recommend relaxation techniques and maintaining a regular sleeping cycle if you want to avoid them. However, you should seek medical help if you do not get relief after following these treatments