Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

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.

  • 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.
Aug. 09, 2014