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Who Is At Risk For Nightmare Disorder & Is There A Home Test For It?

Nightmare is a common condition. But when nightmares start affecting the sleep for a long period, the condition is termed as nightmare disorder. Various factors increase the risk of occurrence of nightmare disorder. There is no home test for this condition but through symptoms, the condition can be identified.

Who Is At Risk For Nightmare Disorder?

Who Is At Risk For Nightmare Disorder?

Nightmare disorder is a condition characterized by frequent awakening during the night due to fear or anxiety. It is a phenomenon more common in children but found in the adults too. As age increases, the frequency of nightmare decreases. Various risk factors act as a trigger for nightmare disorder. These factors include:

Medications And Drug Abuse: Some drugs increase the chance of getting nightmares and also trigger your nightmares such as steroids, beta-agonist, niacin, selective reuptake serotonin inhibitors, and modafinil.1

Sleep Disorder: Some sleep disorders such as insomnia, sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome cause difficulties in sleeping which trigger your nightmares.

Family History: The nightmare is the most common disease. If any family member has nightmares then the risk of causing this disease is increasing.

Anxiety: Anxiety can cause difficulties in sleep. Anxiety can cause fast breathing, excessive sweating and fast heart rate which can trigger your nightmare.2

Depression: Sleep deprivation is one of the most common symptoms of depression. Depression is a mood disorder which can cause insomnia and trigger your nightmare.3

There are some other risk factors which can cause nightmares and trigger your condition such as:

  • Reading and watching scary stuff,
  • Dissociation,
  • Thought process,
  • Poor sleep habits,
  • Stress, and
  • Underlying medical conditions.

Is There A Home Test For It?

Although there is no home test for nightmare disorder, the presence of this condition can be identified through the appearance of various symptoms. For diagnosis of a nightmare at home, the patient needs to notice some factor such as:

If the patient is deprived of sleep or the sleep gets disturbed during the night because of nightmares,

  1. Do these dreams cause fear, sadness, and anger?
  2. You have difficulties in falling back sleep after wake up from these dreams
  3. You have a fear of getting back to sleep

When the above factors affect you sleep for a prolonged period then talk immediately to your doctor. Your doctor will comprehensively evaluate the condition and will try to know the causes of your nightmare disorder.5

Diagnosis Of Nightmare Disorder

There is no routine test available for diagnosis of nightmare disorders. Nightmare disorder only diagnoses when you have difficulties in sleep from dreams and do not able to get enough sleep. Diagnosis of nightmares depends upon your medical history and sign and symptoms. Your doctor did some examinations to diagnose nightmare disorder such as:

Physical Exams: For diagnosis of nightmares disorder your will do a physical examination and try to know factors which contribute to your nightmare disorders by asking various questions related to your life and lifestyle. If your doctor found that the nightmare is caused by anxiety and depression then he may advise you for counseling.

Discussion Of Your Symptoms: Nightmares disorder commonly diagnose based on your symptoms. Doctor firstly asks about your symptoms, family history, and your medical conditions. The doctor may also ask about the behavior of sleep in your partner to discuss other night sleep disorders

Polysomnography (Nocturnal Sleep Study): If your sleep is continuously disturbed then your doctor advises to have an overnight study to determine factor which contributes to nightmares. In this technique a sensor is placed in your body which monitors and records your brain waves, activities of hand and legs, level of oxygen in your blood, breathing and heart rate while you fall in sleep.4


People, who have a family history, have a sleep disorder, and suffering from anxiety and depression are at risk of having nightmare disorder. Certain symptoms help diagnose this condition.


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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 16, 2019

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