This article on Epainassist.com has been reviewed by a medical professional, as well as checked for facts, to assure the readers the best possible accuracy.

We follow a strict editorial policy and we have a zero-tolerance policy regarding any level of plagiarism. Our articles are resourced from reputable online pages. This article may contains scientific references. The numbers in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.

The feedback link “Was this Article Helpful” on this page can be used to report content that is not accurate, up-to-date or questionable in any manner.

This article does not provide medical advice.


What Are The First Symptoms Of Nightmare Disorder & How Do You Test For It?

Nightmare disorder is a disorder characterized by disturbing sleep at night with negative feelings such as anxiety or fear. However, nightmares are common but nightmare disorder is uncommon. It affects females more than males. It may develop in young children but it may affect teens or adults and may remain throughout life. Occasional nightmares are common and there is nothing to worry. A nightmare disorder may awake you in the mid of sleep and disrupt your sleep that may induce fear of sleep.

What Are The First Symptoms Of Nightmare Disorder?

What Are The First Symptoms Of Nightmare Disorder?

Nightmare disorder is called parasomnia in which undesirable experiences appear in the dream that wakes you up. It appears in the second stage of sleep.(1)

Nightmares are usually experienced in the second half of the night when a person is in the second stage of sleep. In this stage of the sleep cycle, more REM (rapid eye movement) is present.(2) Nightmares may happen rarely in one’s life or may happen frequently or many times in a single night. Its episodes may occur frequently briefly that may awaken you at night. It becomes very difficult to get back to sleep.(3)

Awakening at night after having frightful dreams in a repeated manner are the first symptoms of nightmare disorder. It happens in the second half of the sleep period. It is characterized by naps having detailed recall of the frightening dreams. The dreams usually involve major threats to survival, self-esteem or security of the dreamer. These dreams make the patient more alert and oriented. The dreamer is unable to get back to sleep.(4)

The signs of nightmares involve-

  • The dreams appear real and may make the dreamer upset and as the dream progresses further, it becomes more disturbing and frightful.
  • The subject of the dream is related to safety and survival.
  • The dreams may awake you from sleep.
  • The dreamer feels anguish, anger, sadness, and disgust after waking up.
  • His heartbeat is rapid and he highly perspires in the bed.
  • He can recall the full events of the dream.
  • He is unable to sleep again due to the distress caused by the dream.(4)

The signs of nightmare disorders include-

  • Frequent occurrences of similar dreams
  • Persistent feeling of fear and anxiety at the bedtime
  • Problems with memory or concentration
  • The dreams roll in the mind
  • Excessive sleepiness in the daytime with fatigue or low energy
  • Lack of attention in the school or work
  • bedtime anxiety or fear of the dark
  • behavioral problems(4)

How Do You Test For Nightmare Disorder?

If you doubt that you may have nightmare disorder, then if these questions may help you to have self-test-

  • Do you wake up from the sleep after a disturbing dream?
  • Do these dreams make you feel sad, fearful, angry, and sad or disgust?
  • Do you get alert soon after waking up?
  • Do you remember all the details of these dreams?
  • Do these dreams appear in the late stages of your sleep?
  • Can you face trouble in falling back to sleep after these dreams?

If you get yes as answers to these dreams, then you should consult a certified physician. A sleep specialist can also diagnose your condition and rule out other possible causes or underlying causes or complications. It is also advised to keep a sleep diary for two weeks to track sleep patterns and dream frequency.(5)


Nightmare disorder is a bunch of unwanted dreams that haunt a person and awake him. Its first symptoms involve sudden awakening in the late portion of sleep with the recall of the dreadful dreams preventing to sleep again. By asking the above questions to self and if the answer is yes to each question, then self-evaluation of nightmare disorder can be done.


Also Read:

Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:October 14, 2019

Recent Posts

Related Posts