Person writhing in bed, sheets, fear, kept awake at night,

Medication Induced Nightmares

Last updated: July 2022

Due to my ankylosing spondylitis (AS), I take a lot of medication. Some work, some don’t. But I must try them. And when I find the right 1, all the horrible side effects are worth it. And believe me there have been some terrible side effects when my AS medication affects my insomnia – including medication-induced nightmares.

Medication-induced nightmares

These nightmares are like nothing I have ever experienced before. They are so vivid that I think they are real. I wake up in a ball of sweat. Usually, screaming and crying. I’m too afraid to go back to sleep. Normally, I get up out of bed and distract myself. Sometimes I am too scared to leave my room. I get up and turn the light on and play a game on my Nintendo Switch. Sometimes, I even tidy my room or try out some makeup. Anything to keep me awake.

I know that the nightmare may only be a couple of minutes in real life, but while it’s happening it feels like a lifetime. I wake up afraid and confused.

More sleep means more nightmares

There have been times when I have fallen back to sleep. But each time I end up having another nightmare. So, I know I must distract myself and go without sleep. To me, no sleep is better than the horrible terror these nightmares cause.

I feel so uneasy. This would often last for the following day. I wouldn’t feel right, I would feel on edge. It really is a terrible feeling. A terrible feeling that my mind can cause this much distress.

The brain is a crazy thing

Over the past 2 years of being on medication, these nightmares have happened a lot. So much that even in my sleep my brain tries to protect me. Even though my brain is causing these nightmares. Well, the medication is the cause; but still, it’s my brain.

Anyways, I’m not going to bore you with my dream. I enjoy telling people about my dreams and nightmares, but I’ve realized that listening to someone else's dream can be very boring. Last night I had a terrifying nightmare. But, my brain was able to realize that it was a nightmare, and I was able to wake myself up.

In the nightmare, my friend was there. Throughout the nightmare, she would change from herself to the character Barbara from the TV show ‘Stranger Things.’ Some time had passed in my dream, and I hadn’t realized it yet.

A lightbulb moment

Among the panicking and screaming that I was doing in my dream, I thought to myself; Barbara can’t be here. This is supposed to be Emma (my friend). As soon as I realized this, I was able to wake myself up. Even though I figured this out mid-nightmare, I still woke up crying and feeling traumatized. But I also felt shocked that I was able to somewhat control my nightmare.

I was absolutely fascinated that this had happened. Our brains are so powerful and smart. Even though it was my brain causing this nightmare, my brain still wanted to protect me.

Has something similar happened to you?

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