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Nightmares. What helps?

Discussion in 'Sleep' started by taniaaust1, Jun 5, 2011.

  1. taniaaust1

    taniaaust1 Senior Member

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    Im wondering if anyone has got any recommendation on how to treat nightmares.

    Im having such an aweful time as not only do I have extreme insomina in which I cant get to sleep.. when I finally do get to sleep (often 3.30-5.30am) I then get woken up due to nightmares to which each time it takes time to settle down from.

    Last night after finally falling asleep some time after 3.30am (I'd gone to bed tired and had laid in bed awake from midnight.. the same as the night before in which was even worst) .. I was woken up twice after getting to sleep.

    Horrid dreams.. I dont just dream about bad stuff which has taken place in my life (possible PTSD) but also dream of so much other aweful stuff too.

    eg Last night I dreamed of kittens being tortured by squewering which woke me up. I did managed to get straight back to sleep after that one thou I found it quite disturbing but then went into dreams about being hung by rope and woke up terrified and still feeling like I had a noose around my throat.

    This noose feeling from the nightmare persisted for a while and with the adrenaline still racing from the dream.. it took me ages to get to sleep again.

    Im suffering from so much sleep deprivation.. not just from my insomina (my melatonin which used to help has stopped working and the doctors wont give me sleeping pills) but also the nightmares I so often get when I do finally get to sleep and then just get woken up by them.

    Im ending up trying to survive on 5-6 hrs sleep per (24 hrs) sometimes less when Im a person who needs 8-9 hrs sleep due to the chronic illnesses I have.

    Anyway.. has anyone got any ideas on what to do about Nightmares waking one up at night.

    (they dont always wake me up .. my neighbours have rung the police this year as I was screaming in my sleep and scared them.. on that occassion the police actually banging on my door concerned, woke me up. With that dream I couldnt remember it).
    ......

    Anyway.. back to my original question. Has anyone here had success in treating nightmares? (Im not currently taking B vitamins as Im aware they can make dreams more vivid)
     
  2. ankup

    ankup

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    I had dreadful nightmares for ages like you and now they are gone for some years. I stopped all sleeping medication (tranquillizers, sleeping pills, antidepressants) and they gradually disappeared but I also "accepted" my erratic sleeping patterns since sleep deprivation brings them back and awakenings with panic and fears too.

    So I just managed to adapt to sleeping during the day whenever my body falls sleep and take good care of not fragmenting it or sleeping too short.

    I tried every remedy on earth for insomnia and for nightmares and panic awakenings. Nothing helped longer than a few days and always paying side effects.

    I avoid all stress if that is possible. And I sleep an average of 7-8 hours deep and sound, something that I never managed to do when on medication. I could never sleep longer than 3-4 hours in a row for many years and nightmares all the time, mostly related to traumatic events from childhood and teens that come with us all our lives.

    Obviously, I don't work and do nothing, which to me has been crucial to improve on this matter, but I know that it's not possible for everyone.
     
  3. taniaaust1

    taniaaust1 Senior Member

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    Thanks for the reply. Im not on any of those drugs but are on new supplements but sleep issues were an issue before I started those.

    Unfortunately in my case I can rarely sleep during the day (trying to get to sleep is even worst then).. so dont get to like try to catch up on sleep then (same issue of laying in bed for up to 4 hrs or more when tired if I try to sleep in daytime too).

    If I havent managed to get to sleep by day break.. Im completely stuffed then as cant sleep during the day and hence then end up awake till the wee hrs of the morning after and have to go all day without already not having slept the night before. At times Ive missed sleep for nights/days.
     
  4. Lala

    Lala Senior Member

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    Hi tania,

    I am sorry you have such rough time. I know this very well, I have suffered from horrible nightmares for ages, almost twenty years. I had period when I was unable to sleep for more than few minutes, then I woke up with pounding heart from some horrible dream like that someone is chopping me. I was afraid to sleep because of this. I remember I once did not sleep for three days, then I was totally exhausted. I even learned how to partly control dreams and I often changed the end of the dream.
    This all lasted till I started antibiotic protocol and since then my sleep very slowly and gradually improved to the degree I slept whole night without waking up and those nightmares disappeared.
     
  5. Esther12

    Esther12 Senior Member

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    Edit: I was saying someone found CBT for sleep helpful... they've since changed their mind, and said it was a waste of time, and just rituals which they wanted to believe were helpful.

    Some of the things sounded sensible to me at the time (oops: I encouraged them to stick with it).
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2013
  6. illsince1977

    illsince1977 A shadow of my former self

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    Tania-
    Years ago when I was still treated as "atypically depressed" and bipolar, I was taking antidepressants that dangerously interacted with many meds and was also having nightmares. I am not theorizing that the psych meds caused them, but they did restrict greatly what I could safely consume. My psychiatrist had me take benadryl(diphenhydramine) for the nightmares. It helped, but I've no clue as to why. I know some people take it for sleep and it is basically an antihistamine, but it worked for me at the time.
     
  7. currer

    currer Senior Member

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    I'm so sorry you are going through all this, tania. I know of several people with this problem, one was a very close friend.
    He used to say he tried not to sleep because he dreaded his nightmares. eventually they diminished as his general health improved. It is a recognised problem in CFS/ME. My friend used to sleep better in the daytime, actually.
    I dont have a solution, only sympathy.
     
  8. jen1177

    jen1177

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    This may sound nuts but it totally worked for me. I had been having periodic bad dreams, nightmares, and the kind of dreams where you are paralyzed and can't speak but you are awake but also know you are still dreaming (sleep paralysis with hypnogogic hallucinations) which were scary and stressful. What ended up all but eliminating all these bad dreams was not sleeping in any electromagnetic fields (EMFs). I moved my bed into the middle of the room so that I was away from the alarm clock, the water heater closet, the fan, outlets, the refrigerator in the kitchen (shares a wall with the bedroom), and any other electrical device in the room or along the wall outside the room. It has made a HUGE difference. My bad dreams have been reduced to about 2 a year down from about 4 or 5 per month.
    Can't hurt to try it out, right?
    Good luck. And sweet dreams. :)
     
  9. taniaaust1

    taniaaust1 Senior Member

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    That's not crazy at all jen. Ive been sensitive to EMF in the past and hence dont have electric alarm clocks etc anywhere near my bed. EMF I know can disturb me.

    umm your post thou has me really thinking as I know my bed is over an underground stream.. (there are two streams which cross over each other in my bedroom area.. that can cause chaotic energy stuff). It would be hard to shift my bedroom over to another room in my house but Im wondering now if I did, whether that would help. Its something I certainly should think about I think (i dont know if underground streams can help to cause some people to get nightmares or not.. Im going to have to try to research that as I need to get away from anything which is making things worst).

    Ester.. I havent tried CBT for it. I have mentioned to my psychologist about my nightmares before and told her the neighbours had called the police over one and she does know i have sleep issues but she didnt suggest suggest anything herself and we moved onto discussing other things.
    She has recommended me to go to a sleep clinic place thou for some kind of sleep treatment thing they do over 6 sessions (I assume its CBT? and other recommendations). I didnt get up following up on it as I previously ended up getting melatonin again which at the time was helping me a lot with my sleep issues. I plan to try to follow up now with the sleep clinic **fingers crossed** thou i dont really see how CBT is going to help but its worth a try.

    currer.. Im glad your friend got better :).

    Mine do get worst the sicker I are but then I end up reaching a state if Im very very bad where Im like comatose and hypersleep like a log if Im at my worst.. so dont get dreams then at all (when I reach a full time bedridden state.. my dreams stop, its like my body actually becomes too sick for any awareness at all). Its this inbetween state which is the issue for me.. not well but not severely ill currently. Its interesting how varies stages of health affect dreams differently.

    Thanks for the benadryl idea illsince1977. I'll probably give that a go to.

    Thanks everyone :) . I now feel like Im armed with a good plan of action to try to tackle it so hopefully something said will work.
     
  10. taniaaust1

    taniaaust1 Senior Member

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    That sounds horrible :( .. glad you have partly learnt to control them. I capable of doing that too... I studied lucid dreaming for quite a few years in the past before I got sick, so if I do become consciousness aware in the middle of a nightmare while still asleep, I can usually change it or wake myself up from the nightmare. There is nothing worst then being stuck in a dream one cant change or wake oneself up from. (I left the lucid dreaming group I used to be in when I got sick as it seems to use a lot of my energy to maintain a lucid dream so what used to be easy for me to do actually become quite difficult).

    Thank God I arent having that issue like that.. aware while in the actual dream, nor stuck there... I just wake myself up which is easier to do to stop one (unfortuately thou Im still left with the feelings as its triggered adrenaline off and there is something wrong with my adrenaline system so it then dont shut back down properly even when then unafraid by the dream..the rush dont stop).

    Im not afraid to go to sleep (as I can usually wake up from the nightmares), what is stopping me from getting to sleep is I think something wrong with my brain wave state (my EEGs show it dont do the normal stuff when I shut my eyes and relax).

    Glad to hear your issue is better (umm antibotics .. interesting).

    That lucid dreaming dream changing was good advice thou much harder for one with ME to do then for a healthy person who has nightmares to do, so you did amazing well to learn dream control while ill. It usually takes much focus and concentration to do (and not drift back into unawareness) and shift the dream.
     
  11. Dainty

    Dainty Senior Member

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    Some good ideas in this thread and interesting thoughts.

    The only thing I have to add is that nightmares are a common chemical (MCS) reaction for me, especially to medication but can also happen from chemical-y food. In my case they're typically dictinct from "normal" nightmares (which I thankfully only get on rare occassions) by the fact that the nightmares do not "flow". That is to say that while I'm in a "normal" dream/nightmare, no matter how outlandish it is, at the time it feels like it makes sense or has some sort of storyline, even if the storyline completely changes every other second. Whereas when it's an MCS reaction every segment is choppy, nothing makes the slightest bit of sense, like someone took all my thoughts and cut them into miniscule bits and mixed them all together and the result is alarmingly fast skips from segment to segment without a hint of rhyme or reason. It's quite the unnerving experience to have no "flow" to a nightmare...I wish I could describe it better.

    Another distinguishing feature when I'm having it as an MCS reaction is that the nightmare begins practically the moment I fall asleep. I can wake myself up from it, but if I fall asleep it happens again.....and again, and again, and again. It can happen half a dozen times in an hour. Only after a good 6-8 hours have passed can I usually sleep peacefully; I assume it's from the chemicals having worked their way through/out of my system.

    Finally, often (but not always) with this reaction I'll be unusually drowsy, even when I ought not to be. For these medications drowsiness is not a known side effect, nor are nightmares, to my knowledge. And again, it can even happen when my food contains a chemical exposure that my body cannot handle.

    So for me the main factor in avoiding nightmares is to avoid the chemicals that cause them - I share in hopes that if it's the cause of others' the information might be of some use.
     
  12. lucy

    lucy Senior Member

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    Aside of all these smart insights about emf and mcs, I would like to comment on the dreams themselves from my personal experience.

    Our dreams are both post-processing of information and preparing for new possible experiences. So I redream some experiences without even knowing they were important to me (my brain thinks it is important and wants to process it better). Or, if I myself have some unresolved issues, and I try to sleep on them, even if it is an ugly business as I believe it is important to finish any unresolved things in my head.

    Another thing is that I (and I suppose others) dream situations which are about to happen in future. So my little brain is trying to prepare, it thinks it is better to train before the real stuff. Where we end up with this training is for every person different - from a hospital full of zombies to job interviews, funerals of people who in real life are alive. For me a nightmare means I am worried, and normally taking things into my hands (those things that I can take) helps. This is totally a bla-bla advice, but I what I mean - the night is a reflection of the day, if there is a way to work on the day, then it could help.

    I was myself once for five weeks without any deep sleep, and my future looked more and more bleak.
    I spent all days with teeth clenched just to survive through the day - most probably the worst period of my life. Dr put me on SSRI, which kind of improved my sleep - from 2h to 6h per night. In that case I really needed help from outside, I was in a circle where durng the day I was suffering because I did not sleep for a long time normally, during the night I was suffering, because I had spent my day in a terrible state, I was too tense and too tired to sleep.

    Muscle tension is a sleep enemy. When energy supply to the muscle is limited, the muscle stays tense, because more energy is needed to relaxe than to keep it tense (during relaxation, calcium is moved out, and that costs energy). In my case, the shoulders and all the back was stone hard during those weeks of insomnia. And massage does not help such muscles, but maybe acupuncture would?

    Other info, which is helpful to me:
    Body (if it is not totally energy deprived) relaxes when it is cooling down, which is after drinking hot tea or after a hot shower.
    Mint tea gives very vivid dreams - you might want to avoid it.
    Melissa, or ayurvedic sleep teas bring deeper sleep.
    I usually have to lie on my belly for 5 minutes before being able to think of sleep (I have no idea why it helps), I cannot sleep on my left side as I get palpitations - basically wanted to say, our bodies are so specific, that maybe there is a position which is better than others.
    No chance of sleep if feet are cold.
    Toxic/inflamed body for me means very shallow sleep.
    Some kind of pollen could also be a problem - I have more sleep problems in spring.

    I have no choice but to wish you sweet dreams!
     
  13. illsince1977

    illsince1977 A shadow of my former self

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    I think you described it very well!

    This is what I was experiencing too, which for some reason the benadryl addressed. I'd have to be reminded to take it because I couldn't seem to remember on my own.
     
  14. svetoslav80

    svetoslav80 Senior Member

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    Hey I was going to propose lucid dreaming but I see you are already familiar with it. I only managed to do that once , intentionally, after months of training, and a few times before that - unintentionally. The bad thing is I usually wake up seconds after I'm aware that I'm dreaming. Also I was never able to control my dreams as you - only realize that I'm dreaming. It's so difficult. The good news is that when I have a nightmare and realize that I'm dreaming - it disappears in a very beautiful way. Especially if it's a monster chasing me or something like that - it transforms into something harmless - say bunny ;> These are moments of great awareness for me.
     
  15. Lala

    Lala Senior Member

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    Interesting, for me lucid dreaming was very easy. I tried it few times and then it has never been problem. Actually I learned how to control dreams as a last defence against nightmares, but after some period of time I realized I was not able to have normal uncontrolled dreams. When I fell asleep I automatically controlled the dream since beginning and later I had strong feeling it was not ok.. I know nothing about neurophysiology of lucid dreaming, just had the feeling, so I finally stopped and let nightmares play their game again.

    I was so glad this horrible part of illness disappeared during antibiotic treatment! I was nightmares free for some time and slept well after many years, then recently I started a mild antidepressant mirtazapine and guess what- nightmares returned occasionally. It is melatonergic effect of this drug that is causing nightmares. So there can be apparently many causes...
     
  16. taniaaust1

    taniaaust1 Senior Member

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    dainty. I dont think its that currently for me (my MCS has settled down a lot) but that was something I hadnt thought of. thanks

    umm interesting as I have been drinking mint tea sometimes.. Im wondering now if the issue may be worst for me when I are. I will test that one out. thanks

    You can loose your ability to like sleep normally if one is lucid dreaming all the time. That happened to me when I was working with the lucid dream group daily.. sharing dreams. It got to the point where I was always aware when asleep.. I had awareness going into sleep.. the whole sleep time and also was choosing when to awake and maintaining awareness right throu. At one point I got scared as someone had told me that people go crazy if their brains dont shut off so at that point I tried to stop lucid dreaming and it took weeks before I slowly lost my ability to lucid dream.

    I took the lucid dreaming back up again after reading about yogis who lucid dreamed and that one recharges anyway in that state, I had in fact always felt rested when I woke physically up. I never regained thou my previous ability to lucid dream constantly with awareness never shutting down. Some yogis are conscious all the time. I then stopped doing lucid dreaming when I got sick (the lucid dreaming didnt give me this illness).
     
  17. illsince1977

    illsince1977 A shadow of my former self

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    I take a very low dose of mirtazapine nightly. Helps me sleep better. I have never causally associated it with any nightmares at all.
     

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