What can I do if chronic nightmares keep me from getting sleep?

This question was asked in Fairfield, California on 07/02/2012.
I can have nightmares every other night in a week since I was a pre-teen! I haven’t had a trouble past experience, but I can’t stop nightmares such as: world ending in many ways and tragic accidents. Since I started to try controlling my nightmares while having them, I started to dream about spirits and demons telling me not to avoid them, as it was a gift. Is scary enough the simple fact of remembering them and talking about them. My husband tells me I talk while I'm asleep, sometimes snore and lately I wake up screaming, in sweat and crying. There has to be some sort of explanation for this. My mother and grand-mother suffer from similar nightmares, but they seem to live with them as they are only dreams, but I'm afraid is not my case. I need professional help and answers. I'm sick of it getting worst and its starting to affect my daily routine and my husband's night rest! Thank you!

Doctors Answers (3)

Syed Nabi, M.D.
Answered on: 7/10/2012

Best option sounds like maybe to see a board certified sleep specialist. I would probably start the workup with a sleep study and see if we can find anything wrong with sleep. These symptoms can be present in a broad range of sleep and some brain disorders. If they are starting to affect you, you should definitely seek professional help.

Richard J. Schumann Jr., MD
Answered on: 7/3/2012 8

Nightmares and night terrors are sleep disorders characterized as parasomnias that can begin in the childhood and the preteen years and persist in a small percentage of adults later in life. They are usually self limiting and sporatic but if they are increasing in frequency or are becoming more vivid and associated with automatic behavior then further investigation for another new sleep disorder or possibly seizures is warranted. You should see a sleep specialist for an evaluation and potentially a neurologist to schedule an EEG.

J. Douglas Hudson, MD, DABSM
Answered on: 7/3/2012 8

Nightmares are common but very disturbing, as you know. They generally occur during REM sleep when we usually dream. Treatment is available and you should see a board certified sleep specialist. Some of your symptoms such as snoring and sweating raise the question of sleep apnea which can also be associated with nightmares. The family history of your disorder tends to discount sleep apnea as a cause. There is also a disorder called "sleep terrors" which tend to occur in Non-REM sleep and are associated with screaming. Treatment is available for that disorder as well. A careful history given to the sleep specialist will help determine the diagnosis and treatment. Sometimes, an overnight sleep study is helpful to determine which stage of sleep these events occur.