Symptoms and causes of nightmares

Have you ever had a nightmare where a zombie is just after you, and you have to run just to save your life? Huh! That is very normal. Most people have been wondering what results in nightmares without finding solutions. Here are the causes of nightmares you did not know.

A woman having a nightmares

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Having a nightmare in the middle of your sleep can be scary and disturbing. Besides, after a terrible nightmare, one may not even be able to go back to sleep. Most importantly, understanding the causes of nightmares can enable you control yourself from having bad dreams often.

Symptoms of nightmares

Some individuals experience nightmares regularly while others encounter them once in a while. The common symptoms of nightmares include:

  • Sadness and anxiety
  • Distress that takes away sleep
  • Increased heartbeat because of fear
  • Sweating resulting from extreme fear
  • A scary bad dream which appears real

Top 10 causes of nightmares

Nightmares are frequent in children, even thou teens and adults also experience them occasionally. The main causes of nightmares are:

1. Late night watching of scary movies

Research indicates that those people who watch scary movies such as horror are likely to have nightmares as compared to those who watch love movies. The scary vampires in movies appear in a person’s mind causing frightening dreams.

A man experiencing a nightmare

To avoid experiencing more nightmares, stop watching horror movies before bedtime.

2. Some medications may cause nightmares

Taking certain drugs such as beta-blockers and some antidepressants are likely to cause nightmares. Studies also show that taking high blood pressure drugs and Parkinson’s disease drugs may lead to bad dreams.

 Also, people who take drugs to control their smoking habits might experience frequent nightmares.

 3. Bad dreams also result from trauma

When a person overthinks about something, he/she is likely to encounter trauma. It is for this reason that those with post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) experience more nightmares.

Furthermore, many who get involved in road accidents, sexual abuse, and physical injuries experience nightmares more often because of trauma.

4. Reading scary books

Another cause of nightmares is reading of scary stories. Some studies indicate that if an individual reads a book full of frightening content, he/she is likely to have a bad night.

A boy having a bad dream

Therefore, avoid reading books with scary characters before bed because they may reappear in mind and trigger a nightmare.

5. Having too much stress

Stress results when an individual is not able to control himself/herself from thinking over a disturbing issue. Instances such as having a heartbreak, losing a job, a friend, a family member cause stress, which in turn may trigger nightmares.

To avoid stress, you can spend time with your friends, do some exercises such as running, jogging or watching your favorite movie as well.

6. Mental health disorders

One of the most significant causes of nightmares is having mental problems. These disorders interfere with healthy sleep. It is advisable for individuals with these disorders to seek proper remedies to avoid having bad dreams.

7. Irregular sleeping schedule

Tampering with your regular sleeping hours is also among the causes of nightmares. When an individual interferes with standard sleeping time, he/she is likely to experience nightmares. Besides, those people who reduce their sleeping hours are more likely to deal with bad dreams.

Scary dream

Maintain a regular sleeping and waking schedule and ensure you have enough sleep to reduce the chances of bad dreams.

8. Substance abuse

Some individuals who use alcohol and other related drugs are more likely to have more nightmares. In addition, addicts on rehabilitation drugs often experience bad dreams.

9. Use of sleeping pills

Sleeping pills can as well trigger nightmares. People who usually take pills before bedtime dream more. Besides, consumption of stimulants such as caffeine is a major cause of bad dreams.

Therefore, try to avoid stimulants before bed to have a peaceful rest.

10. Having anxiety

Anxiety is among the significant causes of nightmares. Studies show that an individual is likely to have bad dreams if he/she has stress.

Always relax your mind for proper management of occasional emotional breakdowns. This way, you will experience the peaceful nights that you desire.


Many causes of nightmares are manageable by watching sleep patterns, avoiding stress, reducing stimulant intake, skipping horrors and those scary stories. Moreover, doing away with all nightmare symptoms is the only way into a peaceful night. Get rid of bad dreams easily by maintaining a balanced lifestyle free of our discussed causes.