Treatment typically isn’t necessary unless one may be experiencing long periods of extreme distress or sleep disturbance, which may also interfere with daytime functioning. Before seeking or determining the right route for treatment, it’s important to consider the cause of the nightmare disorder. Once this has been considered, treatment may include:
- Medical Treatment:If an underlying medical problem is determined, medical treatment can target the underlying condition.
- Stress or Anxiety Treatment:If stress or anxiety appears to be contributing to the distressful dreams, stress-reduction methods and/or therapy may help
- Imagery Rehearsal Therapy:Those who have nightmares due to PTSD may benefit from imagery rehearsal therapy, as it works to change the ending of a remembered threat or nightmare while awake, in order to remove the threat.
- Medication:Though it is rarely used to treat nightmare disorder, medication may be recommended to help those with PTSD, suffering from severe nightmares.
What to Do About Nightmares
Lifestyle changes may help decrease the frequency of your nightmares. You can try:
- exercising at least three times per week
- limiting the amount of alcohol and caffeine you drink
- avoiding tranquilizers
- engaging in relaxation techniques, such as yoga or meditation, before you go to bed
- establishing a sleep pattern by going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time every morning
If your child is having frequent nightmares, encourage them to talk about their nightmares. Explain that nightmares can’t hurt them. Other techniques include:
- creating a bedtime routine for your child, including the same bedtime each night
- helping your child relax with deep breathing exercises
- having your child rewrite the ending of the nightmare
- having your child talk to the characters from the nightmare
- having your child keep a dream journal
- giving your child stuffed animals, blankets, or other items for comfort at night
- using a nightlight and leaving the bedroom door open at night
One of the ways you can reduce recurring nightmares is to create healthy sleep habits by improving your bedtime routine.
- Create a sleep schedule. A sleep schedule can help to make sure that you’re getting enough sleep throughout the night. It can also provide some routine stability if you’re experiencing recurring nightmares due to stress or anxiety.
- Ditch the electronics. A huge part of getting better sleep is making sure that your body is ready to sleep. The blue light from electronics is known to suppress melatonin, the sleep hormone, making it harder to fall and stay asleep.
- Avoid stimulants. Taking stimulants before bed can make it more difficult to fall asleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, alcohol, cigarettes, and caffeine can all negatively affect your sleep. Trusted Source
- Set the stage. You should make sure that your bed, pillows, and blankets are comfortable. In addition, decorating your bedroom with familiar, comforting items can help create a safe space to fall asleep.
Besides the higher nightmare frequency and the higher PVP and four NEQ scale scores, the nightmare disorder patients had higher scores of FRQ Paternal Abuse, and lower ones of General Attachment, Maternal Encouragement, Maternal Freedom Release, and Paternal Freedom Release. The PVP was correlated with some NEQ and FRQ scales in both healthy volunteers and patients, and it functioned as a mediator between Physical Effect and Maternal Dominance in patients. Regarding predicting NEQ by FRQ, Paternal Abuse predicted Physical Effect, Maternal Dominance predicted Physical Effect and Horrible Stimulation, General Attachment predicted Horrible Stimulation (−) in healthy volunteers; Maternal Dominance predicted Physical Effect, Meaning Interpretation, and Horrible Stimulation, Paternal Freedom Release predicted Physical Effect (−), and Paternal Dominance predicted Meaning Interpretation and nightmare frequency in patients.
Our study has demonstrated that the inappropriate family relationships were linked with different aspects of nightmare experience, especially in nightmare disorder patients.