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Can You Die From Nightmare Disorder?

A nightmare disorder is a term used to describe nightmares that occur frequently. It is a type of parasomnias, which comprise of all behavioral disorders related to sleep.(1)

Can You Die From Nightmare Disorder?

Can You Die From Nightmare Disorder?

A nightmare disorder may lead to sudden death during sleep, which is mainly caused due to a heart attack while having a nightmare.

Aside from this, if the nightmare disorder is of a serious level, it means that you are eventually sleep-deprived and hence, cannot function as you should during the daytime. This may pose a significant threat to your life.

Imagine if you work in a job that needs you to handle heavy machinery. Sleep deprivation can lead to a lack of concentration and focus during your daytime jobs and you may get involved in an accident caused due to mishandling of heavy machinery. Similarly, if you are a driver, you may get involved in an accident while on the road, simply because you dozed off in the middle of your drive because of the sleep deprivation that you have been facing due to the nightmare disorder.

So yes, we can conclude that one can die from nightmare disorder if it progresses to such a severe extent as to compromise your daily work. Also, one can die during a nightmare due to a heart attack.

Symptoms Of Nightmare Disorder-

Nightmares usually occur in the second half of your night-time sleep. Nightmares may happen once or several times during the night. The duration of the nightmares may be very small; however, they will awaken you and you may face trouble falling asleep later.(2)

A nightmare may consist of-

  • Intense and real dreams, that are upsetting. They become more and more upsetting as the dream unfurls.
  • Usually, the content of the dream is related to safety or life threats. However, there may be another story at times.
  • You are awakened by your dream.
  • You feel emotions like anger, fear, anxiety, disgust or unhappiness because of the dream
  • You experience raised heartbeat or arrhythmia and profuse sweating as a result of your dream.
  • You are able to recollect the details of your dream after you awaken, and you are able to think clearly
  • You may get upset or depressed so much so that you find it difficult to fall asleep again later.(2)

Nightmare Disorders Occur Only If-

  • You get them very frequently
  • Your daytime activities get significantly affected
  • You have trouble going to bed every night, fearing the nightmare would happen again
  • You may face problems regarding concentration
  • You may keep thinking about the images you saw in your dream
  • You may have problems with your memory
  • You may feel extreme sleepiness during daytime
  • You may feel excessive tiredness
  • You may face problems in school or work due to sleep deprivation
  • You may develop a fear of the dark.(2)

Complications Of Nightmare Disorder

A nightmare disorder may result in some complications, including-

Extreme Sleepiness During Day-Time-

Due to lack of sleep at night, you may feel extremely tired and sleepy during the daytime. You may face problems at school or work and while performing tasks like driving, handling machinery, concentrating on studies, etc.(2)

Mood Disorders-

There may be a problem with your mood and behavior, and you may face problems like stress, depression, anxiety, mood swings, etc.(2)

Fear Of Going To Bed At Night-

You may resist going to sleep at night for the fear of getting another nightmare if you fall asleep.(2)

Suicide Attempts-

You may start getting suicidal thoughts or attempt suicide due to the mental disturbance resulting from a nightmare disorder.(2)


One can die from nightmare disorder if it turns severe in intensity. One can die from a heart attack during a nightmare or due to committing suicide or while performing a task like driving.


Also Read:

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:October 10, 2019

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