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How Can I Get Rid of Nightmares

Published: August 11, 2010
Dear TeenHealthFX,
How can I get rid of my nightmares? Usually, I'm a really good sleeper, and I have no trouble sleeping through the night. But lately it seems like every night I have nightmares that wake me up at some point. They're usually violent, like being raped, beaten, someone throwing rocks at me, etc. Other times they're things like getting in major arguments with people, things going wrong at school, or being ignored. I've never had a major "traumatic" event like some of the ones I mentioned, although I do have depression. I don't consider myself to be an abnormally anxious person, though. I'm stressed, but no more than usual. This is just so much different from normal. I've actually woken up more than a few times already in tears because they felt so real. At times I have trouble discerning what is a dream from what is real life, because they've gotten so realistic or dramatic. Please help if you can.
Signed: How Can I Get Rid of Nightmares

Dear How Can I Get Rid of Nightmares,

 

A common held perception about unpleasant dreams is that is the mind’s ways of dealing with unconscious conflict that occurs in life. They can result from everyday activities or during major life changes such as moving or the illness or death of a loved one. Watching a scary movie or reading a scary book before bed can also lead to nightmares. Some other factors that can lead to nightmares:

 

·         Abrupt alcohol withdrawalalcohol withdrawal

·         Breathing disorder in sleep (sleep apneasleep apnea)

·         Excessive alcohol consumptionalcohol consumption

·         Illness with a fever

·         Recent withdrawal from a drug, such as sleeping pills

·         Side effect of a drug

·         Sleep disorder (for example, narcolepsynarcolepsy or sleep terror disordersleep terror disorder)

·         Eating just before going to bed, which raises the body's metabolismmetabolism and brain activity

 

If your nightmares started shortly after you began taking a new medication, contact your health care provider. He/she will let you know whether to stop taking that medication, or recommend an alternative.

 

If you are under stress seek support from friends and relatives. Talking about what is on your mind is a good way to reduce stress and anxiety. Following a regular exercise routine can help you fall asleep faster, sleep more deeply and wake up feeling more refreshed.

 

Practicing good sleep hygiene can also be beneficial. Try to go to bed at the same time each night and wake up the same time each morning. Avoid the use of coffee or other caffeinated beverages before bed.

 

It is a good idea to seek professional help for nightmares if you  are having them once or more on a weekly basis, they stop you from getting a good night’s rest or they interfere with you performing your normal daily activities.

 

If you live in northern New Jersey and need help finding a therapist you can call the Access Center from Atlantic Behavioral Health at 888-247-1400. Outside of this area you can log onto the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website for referrals in your area.

Signed: TeenHealthFX

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