Nightmare Disorder

Nightmares* are dream sequences that seem real and become steadily more alarming as they unfold. A person may have several nightmares in one night. They most often occur during REM sleep, but can occur during non-REM sleep in people with post traumatic stress disorder or following a trauma (acute stress disorder).

Upon waking from a nightmare, a person is fully alert and able to clearly recall the events of their dreams. In contrast, “bad dreams” do not cause waking.

While nightmares are much more common in children, some continue to experience nightmares into adulthood and become lifelong sufferers. This can lead to sleep deprivation or outright avoidance, which can lead to more intense nightmares. The risk of insomnia increases as the problem becomes worse. Trauma or post-traumatic stress-related nightmares put people at risk for mood disorders and depression, as well as substance abuse and self-destructive behavior.

* Also know as: Nightmare disorder, REM nightmares, recurrent nightmares, dream anxiety disorder, anxiety dreams.

Potential forensic implications:

  • assault
  • fall risk / mistaken suicide