Vivid dreams

Nightmare disorder and vivid dreams

Are you one of those people who experience night terrors every other night? Do you also find it hard to relate with people having lively dreams full of rainbows and cupcakes? Unfortunately your condition, then, is not ordinary as chances are you can be experiencing a nightmare disorder. But do not worry, just keep on reading to find out how you can identify if your condition is normal or if it is a nightmare disorder as we have created a list of the popular diagnosis and causes for you.

Popular diagnosis and causes of Vivid dreams

Experiencing intense vivid dreams/ nightmares 

Dreams are a succession of sensations, emotions, ideas, and images that occur involuntarily in a person’s mind during certain stages of sleep. Dreams occur in the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep because this is when brain activity is high and most resembles that of being awake.

When in REM sleep, profound rest stages are a typical time for snoring. Despite what might be expected, dreams happen only at the last REM phase of each cycle. It would appear that you don’t snore when you dream, as these conditions show up in various rest stages.

Most people don’t even remember or just have a vague picture of what they had dreamt .However,  at times these dreams can be so intense that they linger above your head even after you wake up often referred to as vivid dreams. These can be both positive and negative, fantasy or realistic. Similarly, some dreams are so unrealistically fantastic that you might not be able to comprehend how your brain had conjured such strange scenarios. However, some vivid dreams can also be quite upsetting and interfere with one’s quality of sleep often referred to as nightmares. These dreams can cause nightmare disorder.

Difference between intense vivid dreams and a nightmare disorder 

It is important to note here that all nightmares or intense vivid dreams do not mean that you have a disorder. In fact, there are predetermined medically approved criteria for the diagnosis of this disorder. A vivid dream becomes a nightmare disorder only when it exceeds a period. In other terms, if you are experiencing night terrors every other day and then experience a fear of falling asleep.

Interesting signs that may mean you have a disorder

Not every case requires a visit to a Doctor, but if you feel the effects are giving above your brain even in daylight, then the issue is getting worse and requires proper medical involvement as soon as possible. We have listed down a few distinguishing characteristics that will help you identify if it’s a nightmare disorder.


Having a nightmare every 5th or 6th day is pretty normal and can be influenced by any external or internal factor that might be out of the ordinary. However, if the probation period remains consistent then there is a high chance it is a disorder.

Anxiety about falling asleep 

Having such frequent horrifying occurrences that it causes extreme level  fatigue and distress even during the day from thinking about falling asleep and experiencing terror all over again

Difficulty in concentration 

You may find your social and work life is affected with your attention span constantly decreasing. You will find yourself having a hard time concentrating on anything else as a major portion of your brain is still focused on the images of the nightmare.

Difficulty in falling asleep 

In many cases you will feel fatigued during the day and around midnight, you will have extreme difficulty falling asleep as still the terrors encompass your brain’s thinking abilities.

Why you might be experiencing nightmare disorder?

Doctors call nightmare disorder parasomnia, which is a sort of sleep disorder characterized by unpleasant experiences that occur when you’re falling asleep, sleeping, or waking up. Nightmares are most common during the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep. It is unknown what causes nightmares.

Nightmares can be brought on by a variety of things, including:

Anxiety or stress

Nightmares might be triggered by everyday concerns, such as a problem at home or school. A substantial change, such as relocating or losing a loved one, might have the same impact. Anxiety is linked to an increased likelihood of nightmares and thus can lead to a person having a nightmare disorder if the duration increases


After an accident, injury, or physical or sexual abuse, nightmares are typical. People with post-traumatic stress disorder frequently suffer nightmares (PTSD). These memories feel so realistic and the trauma so deep that these nightmares leave a trace in your brain. These can take up a critical form as it not only affects the mind psychologically but can have severe impacts on the physical well being of an individual as well. In some cases, people experiencing such intense vivid dreams or those diagnosed with this disorder might have behavioral issues regarding bedtime such as aggressiveness or extreme fear


Sleep deprivation is a condition in which a person does not get enough sleep. Changes in your schedule that generate inconsistent sleeping and waking hours, or interrupt or diminish the quantity of sleep you get, can make you more susceptible to nightmares. Nightmares are more common in people who suffer from insomnia.


Some medications, such as antidepressants, blood pressure meds, beta blockers, and Parkinson’s disease or smoking cessation therapies, might cause nightmares. Misuse of a substance such as withdrawal from alcohol and recreational drugs might cause nightmares. Other afflictions Nightmares may be connected to depression and other mental health issues. Some medical disorders, such as heart disease or cancer, can cause nightmares. Having other sleep issues that prevent you from getting enough sleep

Regardless of the condition, it is important to note that having a nightmare that frequently is certainly not an ordinary experience and requires professional medical assistance. The first step for self diagnosis is identifying the extent of your vivid dreams. For instance, the story line of the dreams being more related to threats and horrifying elements, physical changes in your body such as heart pounding or excessive sweating, and post dream fatigue and distress are all alarming signs of a nightmare disorder.

If the situation prevails, you have to consider seeing a doctor for your underlying condition. Remember treatment for nightmares is not usually necessary but it can surely aid you in the coping mechanism or by simply sharing your terrors, you may feel at ease. Your primary cause for these vivid dreams can further help diagnose the issue. Just remember to look out for the symptoms and in case you notice the situation worsening, reach out to close family and friends

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