A nightmare is more or less a bad terrifying dream with negative content. Nightmares are more common among children, but with age, they decrease. Adults can also have nightmares, but they are not a common ordeal. While occasional nightmares are not problematic, when they become frequent and affect your day-to-day life to the point of experiencing sleep problems and inability to perform, then they become a complication. This is what nightmare disorder is all about. It is basically nightmares that recur with enough frequency and distress to impact nighttime or daytime function, and even affect your physical and mental health. The best way to prevent nightmare disorder is by seeking treatment in cases of underlying psychological disorders, and adopting good lifestyle modifications that will decrease the occurrence of bad, terrifying dreams.
What Are The Ways To Prevent Nightmare Disorder?
Living with nightmare disorder can negatively impact the quality of life in different ways. The good thing is that it can easily be managed with the right treatment protocol and incorporating that with various home remedies that will aid in reducing incidences of nightmares. Some of the ways you can prevent nightmare disorder include;
- Having a sleep schedule that accommodates enough time for sleeping at night so as to avoid daytime naps.
- Exercising during the day or 4hrs earlier prior to bedtime.
- Avoiding caffeine, smoking, and alcohol a few hours before going to bed.
- Taking time off from your gadgets – phones, computers, and tablets, at least an hour before sleeping. If you’re prone to having nightmares, it is also advisable that you do not watch any horrifying or scary movies in the evenings and at night.
- Do not go to sleep when you are angry or distressed. Take time to cool off and relax, then you can head to sleep once you are calm.
- Avoid eating right before going to sleep, especially heavy meals and foods that take longer to digest.
- Find someone to talk to about your nightmare experiences; it could be a friend or specialist. Alternatively, you can join a support group.
- Create a good sleeping environment that will help you relax, and get the quality sleep you deserve.
The Recurrence And Prevalence Of Nightmare Disorder
Nightmare disorder affects about 2-6% of adults, and most commonly in young adults. Women, in particular, have more occurrences of nightmares compared to their male counterparts. Recurring nightmares can be idiopathic, but they’re often related to either an underlying psychiatric disorder such as stress or anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), medication side effects, as well as drug abuse and even depression. For individuals with nightmare disorder, they have frequent nightmares and they can involve episodes of intense feelings of dread, humiliation, or failure. If associated with trauma, e.g. in cases of PTSD, patients may have recurrent bad dreams of the cause of their trauma.
Although it is unclear the true prevalence of nightmares, it is clear that occasional nightmares are common but frequent nightmares associated with nightmare disorder is less common. The recurrence of nightmares is dependent on continued exposure to the triggering factor and the actions taken to prevent or reduce the nightmares. Nevertheless, nightmares do not always require treatment, and some individuals may find that their symptoms resolve on their own after some time. On the other hand, if intervention is required, it is best that a top-down approach is used to manage the condition and start with a general evaluation of sleep and any predisposing risk factors including psychiatric disorders and traumatic experiences then moving down to more specific treatment for nightmares.
Nightmare disorder can be prevented by observing various good sleep habits that will reduce the risk of nightmares at night. Other than that, some lifestyle modifications may be beneficial in reducing the incidences of nightmare occurrence. For individuals with nightmare disorder, the nightmares are recurrent and frequent and can occur several times a night. This can be as a result of continued exposure to the triggering factors or lack of seeking help and changing certain behaviors that instigate nightmares.
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