Nightmare Disorder Causes

(Also Known As: Nightmares Causes, Dream Anxiety Disorder Causes, Repeated Nightmares Causes, Insomnia Causes, Sleep Terror Disorder Causes, Sleepwalking Disorder Causes, Chronic Nightmare Disorder Causes)

(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)

What Causes Nightmare Disorder?

Nightmare Disorder's main Cause remains unknown, but Nightmare Disorder is attributed to a psychiatric condition in half of the adult population affected by it. Nightmares experienced by adults may be due to psychological traumas, such as those that trigger Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In cases of Nightmare Disorder where mental illness is ruled out as a possible cause, the Nightmare Disorder is attributed to stress. The possible causes of nightmares that are irregular and occur occasionally are often attributed to anxiety-related life stressors.3

Normal life stressors, such as loss of a loved one, can be sufficient enough to cause nightmares; however mental and psychiatric disorders are known to produce pathological Nightmare Disorders. Individuals under medication can also experience side effects of the drug that may cause the symptoms of Nightmare Disorder. Some medicines known to produce Nightmares include the following:

  • Blood pressure medications
  • Medications for Parkinson’s Disease such as Levodopa
  • SSRIs such as Effexor and Prozac
  • Amphetamines
  • Stimulant drugs such as cocaine
  • Antidepressant drugs

People who are artistic, sensitive, and creative are also prone to Nightmares because they are known to have well-developed imaginations and are sensitive to environmental and social factors.

Other factors known to cause Nightmare Disorder include:

  • Illness with a fever
  • Anxiety or stress
  • Bereavement
  • Adverse reaction to drugs
  • Abrupt alcohol withdrawal
  • Recent withdrawal from a drug, such as sleeping pills
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Sleep apnea (Breathing Related Sleep Disorder)
  • Inherited tendencies to nightmares
  • Narcolepsy, Sleep Terror Disorder (REM sleep behavior disorder) and other forms of sleep disorder
  • Late night snacks that increase the body’s metabolism which makes the brain active
  • Sleep deprivation can also contribute to Nightmares in adults

Could You Have Nightmare Disorder?

Nightmare Disorder Topics

Related Conditions

Dyssomnia – Difficulty to Go to Sleep, Difficulty to Remain Sleeping, Sleep Disorder, Primary Sleep Disorder
Hypersomnia – Recurrent Episodes of Daytime Sleepiness, Sleep Disorder, Frequent Daytime Napping, Anxiety, Disturbed Sleep
Narcolepsy – Dyssomnia, Excessive Daytime Sleepiness, Daytime Drowsiness, Insomnia, Drooping Eyelids, Lack of Sleep, Sleep Awakening
Parasomnia NOS – Sleep Disorder, Abnormal Movements, Sleep Awakening, Abnormal Sleep Pattern, Dreaming, Disturbed Emotion and Behavior
Sleep Terror Disorder – Sleep Terror Disorder, Extreme Terror, Difficulty to Wake Up, Emotional Fear, Parasomnia
Sleepwalking Disorder – Somnambulism, Parasomnia, Engaging in Activities While in a State of Sleep