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How Sleep Disorders Can Affect Your Dreams

By: Libby Pelham BA - Updated: 1 Dec 2013 | comments*Discuss
 
Dreams Dream Dream Interpretation

There is nothing quite like a good night’s sleep to make you feel relaxed and refreshed. However, if you suffer from a sleep disorder, you are probably not getting a good night’s sleep, which can affect your whole day.

There are many different types of sleep disorders, from restless leg syndrome, which makes it hard to get to sleep because you have an unpleasant sensation in your legs to sleepwalking, where you walk around while still asleep. However, some types of sleep disorders do affect your dreams.

Sleep Terrors

Sleep terrors, sometimes known as night terrors, is a parasomnia sleep disorder. Parasomnis sleep disorders often occur during the transition from being awake to NREM sleep. Sleep terrors are frightening because the subject has a sense of overwhelming terror during this dream, which occurs during the deepest level of NREM sleep, the slow-wave sleep.

The “dream” can include seeing strange, alarming images or hearing shrieking screams. Sleep terrors can have the feeling of realness that lucid dreaming has, but the subject is not in control as he or she is during a lucid dream.

Sleep terror subjects may have their eyes open and look awake, but still be asleep. Even while trying to awaken the subject, he or she can continue to experience the panic and fright associated with sleep terrors for as long as twenty minutes. Night terrors can occur in both adults and children. Unlike a nightmare, the subject usually doesn’t remember what caused the night terrors, only the panic and fear associated with it.

Nightmares

Almost everyone has experienced some type of nightmare. You may dream you are being chased by a crazed killer, of the death of a loved one, or dream you are in a plane that is crashing. Any dream in which something you deem fearful occurs can be considered a nightmare.

Nightmares occur during REM sleep, which normally occurs 90 minutes after going to sleep. However, unlike sleep terrors, when a subject awakes from a nightmare, he or she can usually remember vivid details of it. While most people experience a nightmare from time to time due to stress or sleep deprivation, some people have reoccurring nightmares.

Sleep Paralysis

Sleep paralysis may occur after waking up or shortly before falling asleep. While experiencing sleep paralysis, the subject cannot move any part of his or her body and cannot speak, but continues breathing. While the person is not really dreaming, he or she often experiences hallucinations such as someone standing beside them or hearing strange sounds, leading them to think that they are still asleep. Like sleep terrors and nightmares, sleep paralysis, although not physically harmful, is also very disturbing and upsetting.

What can you do to avoid sleep disorders? There are a few things you can try at home:

  • Keep a regular sleep schedule.
  • Avoid doing other things in bed such as reading or watching television.
  • Avoid napping.
  • Try to limit stress and sleep deprivation.
  • Participate in aerobic activity approximately four hours prior to bedtime.
  • Avoid stimulants such as cigarettes, alcohol, and caffeine.

Sleep disorders can lead you to experience crazy, vividly terrifying dreams. However, dream interpretation may or may not be of help in the cases of sleep disorders. This is because while some sleep disorders may be due to stress; many are due to physiological factors, which may include fever, sleep deprivation, personality disorders, and genetics, so dream analysis may be of no benefit in preventing the sleep disorder.

Sleep disorders can lead to fatigue, due to the fact that you are not getting enough REM or NREM sleep without interruptions. Take lifestyle steps to avoid them and if that doesn’t help, contact your physician.

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Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
I keep having dreams of my mother who has passed in April,in the dreams we are always at her home and other people (I don not remember)are around.I know my mom is dead in my dream and weird things happen (I also don't know what)but they frighten me and I will always say to my mom YOUR NOT SUPPOSE TO BE HERE,Then it seems she is holding her heart but in fact my mother died of a brain tumor..I will wake crying calling her name or my husband will wake me cause I am crying calling for my mom..WHAT DOES THIS MEAN,I ALWAYS SAY SHE IS NOT SUPPOSE TO BE HERE
sharbear - 1-Dec-13 @ 5:21 PM
Hello, I am wondering about a dream in particular I am having in the last month or so. First I dreamt of loosing my youngest daughter(7) in a shopping centre, then a few weeks later I had the same dream but about my eldest daughter(17) and a few nights ago, I had a dream about loosing my fiance in a museum.After each of those dreams, I woke up and had tears in my eyes. What could be the meaning of them? Thank you
gaelle - 29-Aug-12 @ 2:22 PM
This was really helpful to me and helped me want to research this topic some more. :O)
Kay Finch - 12-Jul-11 @ 3:48 PM
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