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Is Nightmare Disorder A Serious Condition & Can It Be Reversed?

Prolonged and untreated nightmare disorder significantly affects the patients both mentally and physically. The condition becomes less pronounced as the age increases. Various measures are available to reverse the condition.

Is Nightmare Disorder A Serious Condition?

Is Nightmare Disorder A Serious Condition?

Nightmare disorder is the condition characterized by disruption of sleep at night due to nightmares. The occurrence of a nightmare is a common condition and not all the people with nightmares are classified to have nightmare disorder. Only the people who have chronic sleep disruption and insomnia because of nightmares are kept in the category of nightmare disorder. Nightmare disorder significantly affects the quality of life of the patient. If the nightmare disorder is not treated during the initial period, it may lead to various complications. Some of the complications of nightmare disorder include:

Excessive Day Time Sleepiness1: Nightmare disorder does not allow the patient to have a sound sleep at night. Either the patient has difficulty in sleeping or even if the patient gets sleepy, this disorder makes the patient awake during the night and the patient faces difficulty in falling asleep again. This results in excessive day time sleepiness. The ability of the patient in performing daily activities at home or the job gets reduced.

Fear Of Going To Bed: The patient with nightmare disorder is so feared with the nightmares that he starts resisting going to bed. This condition becomes more severe if proper treatment is not provided to the patient. This is because the patient fears that if go to sleep, he might encounter another nightmare.

Depression And Anxiety: People with chronic nightmare disorder have depression and anxiety. The mood disorder poses a problem in managing tasks of routine life. If the condition is not treated at an early stage, the symptoms of depression and anxiety progress to a critical level.

Suicidal Attempts: Chronic and untreated nightmare disorder may cause suicidal thoughts in the patients. The patient gets fed of his life of fear, anger, anxiety, depression and a reduction in quality of life. In severe cases, the patient may attempt suicide. Proper treatment and counseling are provided to such patient depending upon the cause of nightmare disorder.

The Occurrence Of Other Medical Disorders: Patients whose nightmare disorder are not properly managed for a prolonged period are at significant risk of developing other medical conditions. These medical conditions include sleep apnea and sleep terror disorder.2

Can Nightmare Disorder Be Reversed?

Nightmare disorder is not hard to treat a medical condition. The patient can easily get rid of this condition through conventional therapy, lifestyle changes and by managing his food habits. The nightmare disorder most commonly found in the children and has occasional occurrence in adults. Thus, as the age increases, the symptoms of nightmare disorder become less severe and the condition may disappear. Following are some of the treatment options available for reversal of nightmare disorder:

Medications: Various medications are recommended for nightmare disorder, especially caused due to trauma. These main medications include prazosin and clonidine.3 Other medications that are also for treating nightmare disorder include trazodone and gabapentin.

Lifestyle Changes: Various lifestyle changes also have a positive impact on this condition. Lifestyle changes focus on providing sound and prolong sleep to patients. Keeping yourself relax, and away from stress helps sound sleep.

Managing Food Habits: Foods which improves sleep should be taken during bedtime while those which interferes with sleep should be avoided.

Imagery Rehearsal Therapy: This therapy is also advised in patients suffering from a post-traumatic nightmare disorder. The patients are tried to get rid of their fear by changing the overall outcome of the nightmare.

Natural Remedies: Various natural remedies such as essential oils, and warm bathing are also effective in nightmare disorder.


A nightmare disorder may result in serious complications such as excessive day time sleepiness, anxiety, depression, fear of going to bed, the occurrence of medical conditions such as sleep apnea and suicidal attempts. The condition can be reversed through various treatment strategies.


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:October 11, 2019

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