United We Care | A Super App for Mental Wellness

Nightmares:7 Shocking Truth To Overcome

May 23, 2023

7 min read

Avatar photo
Author : United We Care
Nightmares:7 Shocking Truth To Overcome




During sleep, our minds engage in mysterious dreaming. Dreams can bring about feelings of joy and happiness. They can also take a turn, causing fear and distress that disrupts our sleep. When we are awakened by a dream, it is referred to as a nightmare. While having a nightmare is common, some people experience them frequently, which can significantly impact their sleep quality and daily lives. It is important to understand the differences between dreams, nightmares, and nightmare disorder in order to identify the causes of nightmares, seek treatment, and ultimately improve overall sleep quality.

What are Nightmares?


Nightmares are distressing dreams that evoke feelings of fear, terror, or anxiety. They typically occur during the eye movement (REM) stage of sleep when dreams are most intense and immersive. These dreams often involve threatening situations, such as being pursued, attacked, or trapped.

When experiencing a nightmare, the emotions and sensations can feel incredibly real, causing us to wake up suddenly. Upon awakening from a nightmare, we may still feel lingering unease, fear, or discomfort. It has the potential to disrupt our sleep patterns, resulting in sleep deprivation and daytime fatigue.

While having nightmares is considered normal during sleep cycles for individuals, frequent or recurring nightmares may indicate an underlying issue.

There are factors that can trigger nightmares, such as stress, trauma, anxiety, medication, and sleep disorders.

What are the different types of Nightmares?

There are primarily three types of nightmares:

What are the types of Nightmares?

  1. Idiopathic Nightmares: Idiopathic nightmares are dreams that occur without any known cause or trauma. They can create scenarios. Evoke feelings of fear or confusion. Managing them involves using relaxation techniques and addressing factors.
  2. Recurrent Nightmares: Recurrent nightmares involve recurring dream themes or situations. They stem from traumas or psychological distress. Treatment may include therapy to address the root causes and reduce their frequency.
  3. Post-Traumatic Nightmares: Post-traumatic nightmares are distressing dreams that occur after experiencing an event. They directly relate to the trauma experienced. It can worsen symptoms of traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Treatment involves therapy and medication to address the trauma and provide coping mechanisms.

Understanding and addressing idiopathic, recurrent, and post-traumatic nightmares is crucial for managing sleep disturbances and promoting well-being.

What are the symptoms associated with nightmares?


Nightmares can manifest with symptoms including;

  1. Experiencing fear or anxiety during the dream.
  2. An increased heart rate upon waking up.
  3. Difficulty falling back asleep after experiencing an episode.
  4. Remembering the dream vividly with all the emotions and details that came with it.
  5. Disturbed sleep, waking up frequently throughout the night.
  6. Feeling physically and emotionally exhausted due to disturbed sleep.
  7. After waking up, I still had lingering feelings of uneasiness, fear, or distress.
  8. Finding yourself avoiding situations or activities related to the content of the nightmare.
  9. Your mood seemed to change with increased irritability, sadness or heightened anxiety.
  10. Overall, your daily functioning and well-being were impaired because of the disturbed sleep.

While having nightmares is considered normal for people, it’s important to seek professional help if they start affecting your daily life significantly.

Causes of Nightmares


The causes of nightmares vary from person to person. However, some common factors that may contribute to experiencing them include:

Causes of Nightmares or dream

  1. Stress and anxiety: High levels of stress or anxiety in life can increase the likelihood of having nightmares during sleep.
  2. Past traumatic experiences: Nightmares can be triggered by events such as accidents, abuse or witnessing distressing incidents. This happens as our minds process and try to cope with the impact.
  3. Medications and substances: Certain medications, like antidepressants or drugs that affect our system can disrupt our sleep patterns and contribute to having nightmares.
  4. Sleep Disorders: Sleep-related disorders such as sleep apnea, insomnia, or restless leg syndrome have the potential to disrupt our natural sleep cycle and lead to nightmares. 
  5. Irregular sleep patterns: When our sleep patterns are irregular, we experience sleep deprivation. Frequently wake up during the night, increasing the chances of having nightmares.
  6. Mental Health Conditions: Additionally, mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be associated with the occurrence of nightmares. 
  7. Environmental Factors: It’s worth noting that external factors such as temperatures, noise disturbances or an uncomfortable sleeping environment can also contribute to disrupted sleep and the development of nightmares.

It is important to acknowledge that each individual’s experiences are unique, and there may be factors that play a role in causing nightmares. If you find yourself consistently experiencing nightmares or if they significantly affect your well-being, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional who can help explore causes and discuss treatment options.

How Can We Prevent Nightmares?


Nightmares can be distressing and disrupt our quality of sleep, leaving us feeling anxious and uneasy about going to bed. However, there are steps we can take to minimize their occurrence and promote sleep:

How to Prevent Nightmares

  1. Stick to a sleep schedule: Establishing a routine for bedtime can help regulate our body’s internal clock and encourage better sleep patterns while reducing the likelihood of experiencing nightmares.
  2. Relaxation Techniques: To promote sleep and prevent nightmares, try incorporating relaxation techniques into your bedtime routine. Engage in calming activities, like reading a book, listening to soothing music, or taking a bath to help relax both your mind and body.
  3. Managing Stress: It’s also important to manage your stress levels. Find coping methods such as exercise, practicing mindfulness or meditation, or even journaling your thoughts and feelings.
  4. Creating a sleep environment: Creating a sleep environment can make a difference as well. Make sure your bedroom is comfortable, quiet, and free from distractions that may interfere with sleep.
  5. Stimulating Substances: To avoid disruptions to your sleep and minimize the chances of experiencing nightmares, it’s advisable to limit or avoid consuming stimulating substances like caffeine, alcohol, and heavy meals before bedtime.
  6. Seek Help: If nightmares persist or significantly impact your quality of life it may be beneficial to seek help. Consider reaching out to healthcare professionals or therapists specializing in sleep disorders or dream therapy for guidance and assistance.
  7. Review Medications: Additionally, it could be helpful to review any medications you are taking. If you suspect that certain medications might be causing nightmares, discuss your concerns with your healthcare provider, who can explore alternatives or adjustments.



Understanding the causes and triggers of nightmares can empower us to take steps to prevent them. By adopting sleep habits and managing stress levels through various techniques mentioned earlier, establishing a calming bedtime routine tailored to our needs while seeking professional help when necessary will contribute positively towards achieving restful nights without distressing dreams.

The Sleep Wellness Program offered by the UWC app provides individuals with a range of resources to effectively manage nightmares, improve the quality of their sleep, and enhance their well-being. With its designed features and expert guidance, this program aims to help people find relief from the effects of nightmares and attain better sleep health.



[1] “Nightmare disorder,” Mayo Clinic, 05-Jun-2021. [Online]. Available: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/nightmare-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20353515. [Accessed: 18-May-2023].

[2] Schredl, “Nightmare disorder,” in The Parasomnias and Other Sleep-Related Movement Disorders, M. J. Thorpy and G. Plazzi, Eds. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001, pp. 153–160.

[3] Suni, “Nightmares,” Sleep Foundation, 09-Oct-2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/nightmares. [Accessed: 18-May-2023].

[4] “Nightmares and the brain,” Harvard.edu. [Online]. Available: https://hms.harvard.edu/news-events/publications-archive/brain/nightmares-brain. [Accessed: 18-May-2023].

[5] Pietrangelo, “Nightmares,” Healthline, 17-Jul-2012. [Online]. Available: https://www.healthline.com/health/nightmares. [Accessed: 18-May-2023].

Unlock Exclusive Benefits with Subscription

  • Check icon
    Premium Resources
  • Check icon
    Thriving Community
  • Check icon
    Unlimited Access
  • Check icon
    Personalised Support
Avatar photo

Author : United We Care

Founded in 2020, United We Care (UWC) is providing mental health and wellness services at a global level, UWC utilizes its team of dedicated and focused professionals with expertise in mental healthcare, to solve 2 essential missing components in the market, sustained user engagement and program efficacy/outcomes.

Scroll to Top

United We Care Business Support

Thank you for your interest in connecting with United We Care, your partner in promoting mental health and well-being in the workplace.

“Corporations has seen a 20% increase in employee well-being and productivity since partnering with United We Care”

Your privacy is our priority