I am having too many nightmares

Dear doctor; I am having one too many nightmares in this new home. Could the house be haunted or some hallucination is affecting me? I keep seeing myself or relatives dead and I sometimes wake up sweating. The problem started after I shifted from Remera.

Dear doctor;

I am having one too many nightmares in this new home. Could the house be haunted or some hallucination is affecting me? I keep seeing myself or relatives dead and I sometimes wake up sweating. The problem started after I shifted from Remera.

Ndayonde, Kacyiru.

Dear Ndayonde,

Nightmares are vivid terrifying dreams that may seem so realistic that one may be jolted from sleep and have sweating along with pounding of heart, dry mouth, among other symptoms of fear. Nightmares occur in the rapid eye movement (REM) phase of sleep. As night progresses, REM phase becomes more prolonged, thus night mares often occur in the wee hours towards morning.

One may get recurrent nightmares due to some traumatic life event  experienced or witnessed as part of post trauma stress disorder. Undue anxiety or stress due to some problem can also cause recurrent night mares.

Taking heavy meals in late evening shortly before sleeping can induce night mares because the brain remains active in helping to process the food. One can have nightmares also due to consuming binge of alcohol or caffeine  before sleeping. Sleep disorders like sleep apnoea, insomnia result in disturbed sleep as well as nightmares. A large number of prescription medications can cause recurrent nightmares as adverse effects. These include some  anti anxiety, antidepressant, anti epileptic, anti hypertensive, lipid lowering drugs,  cardiac drugs, anti allergy drugs, sleeping pills and tranquilisers.

If one habituated to alcohol or other abusive substances stays without it for more than 12 hours, he can have nightmares as part of withdrawal syndrome.

The kind of nightmares you are experiencing may be kind of hallucinations as well as part of some psychiatric problem.

Keeping a healthy lifestyle including balanced diet and regular exercise will help to keep body and mind healthy thus providing a sound sleep, preventing nightmares. Eating early in the evening at least two hours before sleeping is a good idea. Avoid use of alcohol or coffee before bed time. If there is a problem causing mental stress, it is better to discuss it with friends and family members to help find a solution. Professional counselors can help in overcoming post traumatic stress disorder. Complete physical and mental relaxation is also vital. It is also important to organise a regular sleep/wake, time table for the body. As far as possible try to sleep and wake up at a fixed time every day. The night clothes worn should be loose and comfortable, bed clothes also need to be sufficiently warm, clean and comfortable. All these will help to induce a sound sleep thus preventing nightmares.

Regarding haunting, there are many stories world over about it, many people narrate their experiences, but science does not validate it.

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