Nightmares and Insomnia

Last updated: August 2022

Nightmares are never a pleasant thing to experience. They can be very unsettling and leave one feeling anxious about going back to sleep. Or just about going to sleep at all. Some nightmares are so vivid that we wake up feeling the emotional toll, sweating, crying, and generally just not exasperated. This would make it rather challenging to fall asleep again. If you experience this on a regular basis, it is possible that it could cause insomnia, and sleep anxiety.

Nightmares and insomnia

Either way, nightmares can cause insomnia or be a repercussion of insomnia. It can be hard to tell the difference. For me, it is both. I often experience very intense nightmares. My insomnia is around for many different reasons. The more sleep-deprived I get the worse my nightmares get.  This creates a vicious circle of nightmares and sleep deprivation.

Bad dreams versus nightmares

While bad dreams and nightmares are classified differently, they can both contain upsetting content. Nightmares, as I understand, would normally wake you from a deep sleep, while bad dreams do not necessarily wake you up.

To me, however, they both affect my mental health and my sleep very seriously. My nightmares often hang around for a while and some of them remain as memories and never go away.

Nightmare triggers

I am aware that depression, PTSD, and anxiety could make nightmares much worse and it could trigger nightmares. Below are the lesser-known triggers for me. Knowing what they are can help make sense when they arrive. Then, you can look at things that might have changed and could cause the nightmares.  There are a variety of things that could cause nightmares.

  • Withdrawal from certain medications
  • Starting certain medications
  • Increase in stress
  • REM rebound
  • Substance abuse
  • Late night eating

When is it time to chat to your health care provider

There is no doubt that nightmares can affect your daily life. There will come a time when you need to talk to your health care provider about them. There are various treatments available to try, from hypnosis to psychotherapy.

If you are finding that your nightmares are causing you severe distress and are the reason you do not want to go back to sleep, or if you are having nightmares more than once or twice a week, it might be a good idea to reach out and start thinking about getting some assistance. If you have changed medication and these are causing nightmares, please contact your doctor as soon as you can.

Sleep anxiety

While nightmares can be manageable when they are just a few and far between, when they never stop they can leave you exhausted. This can easily lead to sleep anxiety and cause a severe insomnia spell that will leave you feeling anxious about going to sleep. Sleep anxiety can be a very hard cycle to break, the less you sleep and the more nightmares you have the more reluctant you are to go to sleep. It is important to remember that you can find help for battling both insomnia and nightmares.

How do you manage sleep anxiety from nightmares and insomnia? Please share a comment below.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Insomnia.Sleep-Disorders.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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