Whether it’s running from axe-wielding murderers or showing up naked in the school cafeteria, most of us have been jolted awake by a nightmare at some point. When nightmares move beyond occasional annoyance to near-nightly terror, however, you might have nightmare disorder. People with nightmare disorder often wake in a cold sweat with vivid memories of horrible dreams. Their waking life suffers. They may dread sleep.
Stress and sleep deprivation are major nightmare triggers, as are some medications, according to the American Sleep Association (ASA). In severe cases, counseling or sedative drugs might be necessary to soothe the anxiety underlying the bad dreams. For most of us, though, banishing the nighttime axe-murderer is as easy as taking a relaxing bath and going to bed on time.