It’s very likely that you’ve experienced a nightmare at least once or twice in your lifetime. You may have woken up in the middle of the night with your heart beating fast and lay in your bed recalling the scary stuff that filled your dreams. In general, these bad dreams are normal and isolated events, but when they begin to occur more frequently, you might start to wonder whether they are a sign of something more serious.
What are Nightmares?
The experience of a having a bad dream is clinically called a nightmare. Nightmares are characterized by suddenly waking from REM, or the rapid eye movement stage of sleep, and recalling the distressful content of your dreams. It’s very common to have a fast heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and difficulty falling back to sleep afterwards.
These bad dreams might be caused by daytime stress, death of someone close to you, or intermittent illness. If your nightmares begin occurring more frequently than normal and you’re finding your quality of sleep is lacking, consider making an appointment with your physician.
Could My Nighttime Waking Be From Night Terrors?
If you’re experiencing frequent waking and can remember the vivid details of your bad dreams, you’re most likely not having night terrors. Despite it’s spooky name, night terrors aren’t a sign of poor health and are usually not an indicator of a larger health problem. Night terrors are similar to nightmares in that you’ll often have increased blood pressure and large pupils when they occur but are different because you won’t truly wake up after a night terror episode. You may experience sleep walking or screaming in your sleep but you’ll have little to no memory of it in the morning.
When to Talk to Your Doctor
For some, night terrors accompanied by sleep walking can be dangerous. You may attempt to walk down stairs, go outside, or cook food while asleep. Talk to your doctor about what steps they recommend you take to prevent you from harm. You may also need to investigate whether or not your night terrors are wrongly diagnosed, as sometimes the symptoms can be confused with other health conditions such as epilepsy.
If you’re concerned about lack of sleep from nightmares and you’re waking in the morning with headaches, or dry mouth, ask your doctor about sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea can increase episodes of nightmares and is a medical condition in which a person experiences frequent waking and momentary lapses in breathing. It also causes snoring but has more serious effects overtime, such as kidney disease, diabetes, and stroke.
What if Sleep Apnea is Causing My Nightmares?
If your nightmares turn out to be related to untreated sleep apnea, you’ll be relieved to know that Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, or CPAP therapy, can help. One study found that the use of CPAP machines corrected nightmares in 91% patients.
Sleep apnea is a serious disorder. Whether from lack of sleep, stress related nightmares, or long term adverse cardiovascular effects, treatment is important. Ask your prescribing health care provider for sleep apnea mask style recommendations, and visit a trusted CPAP retailer. Breatheeasycpap.com is a health care practitioner based online business. You’ll be pleased with the variety of CPAP systems and sleep apnea accessories available at their website. Getting you a good night’s rest, free of nightmares and night terrors, is their passion. Don’t let sleep apnea keep you awake any longer.