Treatment for nightmares isn't usually necessary. If the nightmares are causing you distress and interfering with your daytime functioning, talk to your doctor. The cause of the nightmare disorder helps determine treatment.
Aug. 09, 2014
- Medical condition treatment. If the nightmares are associated with an underlying medical or mental health condition, treatment is aimed at the underlying problem.
- Stress or anxiety treatment. If stress or anxiety seems to be contributing to the nightmares, your doctor may suggest stress-reduction techniques, counseling or therapy.
- Medication. Medication is rarely used to treat nightmares. However, medications that reduce REM sleep or reduce awakenings during sleep may be recommended if you have severe sleep disturbance.
- Imagery rehearsal therapy. Often used with people who have nightmares as a result of PTSD, imagery rehearsal therapy involves changing the ending to your remembered nightmare while awake so that it's no longer threatening. You then rehearse the new ending in your mind. This approach may decrease the frequency of nightmares.
- Nightmares and sleep. National Sleep Foundation. http://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-disorders-problems/abnormal-sleep-behaviors/nightmares-and-sleep. Accessed May 27, 2014.
- Goldstein CA. Parasomonias. Disease-a-Month. 2011;57:364.
- Augedal AW, et al. Randomized controlled trials of psychological and pharmacological treatments for nightmares: A meta-analysis. Sleep Medicine Reviews. 2013;17:143.
- Sateia M. International Classification of Sleep Disorders. 3rd ed. Darien, Ill.: American Academy of Sleep Medicine; 2014. http://www.aasmnet.org/EBooks/ICSD3. Accessed May 20, 2014.
- Sleep-wake disorders. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2013. http://www.psychiatryonline.org. Accessed May 30, 2014.
- Sleep-wake disorders. American Psychiatric Association. http://www.psychiatry.org/dsm5. Accessed May 30, 2014.
- Carter KA, et al. Common sleep disorders in children. American Family Physician. 2014;89:368.
- In-lab sleep study. American Academy of Sleep Medicine. http://www.sleepeducation.com/disease-management/in-lab-sleep-study/overview. Accessed May 30, 2014.
- Haupt M, et al. Just a scary dream? A brief review of sleep terrors, nightmares and rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder. Pediatric Annals. 2013;42:211.
- Nightmares. American Academy of Sleep Medicine. http://www.sleepeducation.com/sleep-disorders/nightmares. Accessed May 30, 2014.
- Brain basics: Understanding sleep. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/brain_basics/understanding_sleep.htm#dreaming. Accessed May 30, 2014.
- Silber MH (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. June 25, 2014.
- Olson EJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. July 1, 2014.
- Kotagal S (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. July 7, 2014.
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