Nightmares are most common for children age three to six, occurring in approximately half of them, according to Statista. The occurrence typically happens less frequently as we grow into adulthood, but some 5 percent of adults continue to have reoccurring nightmares.
According to some researchers, nightmares are different than just bad dreams. After examining nearly 10,000 patient recorded dreams, scientists concluded that nightmares were more associated with death, health concerns, and threats, but “bad” dreams were more about interpersonal conflicts.
Interestingly, studies report that fear is not the prominent emotion in nightmares. Sadness, confusion, and guilt are more likely to be felt and stay with a person as they wake. Having nightmares chronically can affect healthy sleep and lead to anxiety.
Nightmares may be the result of a trauma or PTSD. Adults’ experiencing bouts of anxiety, stress, and depression can experience reoccurring nightmares as well. Withdrawal from drugs, alcohol, and other medications can trigger nightmares, as well as any medical condition inducing anxiety and sleep problems.
Science grasps at straws in its attempt to explain the biological causes and correlates that could contribute to experiencing nightmares and other mental conditions, but some clinicians are suggesting nightmares may help people to process traumatic events.
Dreaming during sleep is shown to occur during REM sleep. This sleep cycle is related to stimulation on the part of the brain responsible for learning mental skills. However, some scientists theorize that dreams may just be the cortex’s attempt to find meaning in the “random” signals it receives during REM sleep, interpreting fragmented brain activity into a story for the mind to perceive.
Scientists have tried to formulate synthetic pharmaceuticals to address nightmares directly, specifically those associated with PTSD and war veterans. Most of them, such as Prazosin, have strange effects on the autonomic nervous system causing the sensation of sickness, dizziness, and nausea. Prazosin can even cause whole-body allergic reactions, pain, cardiovascular problems, insomnia, urticaria, vasculitis, and eye pain.
Since nightmares are thought to be induced by stress and anxiety, physicians may often prescribe anti-anxiety medications, like [benzodiazepines]. However, these types of drugs create dependency and can lead to addiction. Benzodiazepine anxiety medication is also associated with fatal overdose, severe intoxication, violent mood swings, depression, and withdrawal even after just 4 weeks of use.
Physicians may sometimes prescribe antidepressants to people suffering from frequent nightmares. [SSRI] and [SNRI] antidepressant medications can actually worsen symptoms of PTSD in long-term and cause anxiety, agitation, and insomnia. The drugs also cause liver damage, heart problems; blood pressure issues, weight gain, sexual dysfunction, and severely increase the risk of depression and suicide in children.
There are mounting evidence and research to support anecdotal claims of PTSD and depression patients finding relief in cannabis. Marijuana can help individuals relax thanks to its anxiolytic properties, and it can serve to reduce tension in muscles, and even has antidepressant effects. All of these characteristics contribute to cannabis’s ability to induce sleep, relaxation, and can address a variety of potential factors causing frequent nightmares.
Actually, research shows that [THC] reduces the amount of time we spend in [REM] stage of sleep, which is when we dream and have nightmares. Theoretically, this would suggest that cannabis before bed would suppress one’s dreams, and therefore nightmares too. However, this may not be ideal, as our dreams could serve as a psychological filter for unconscious desire, or possibly a way to process the events and emotions of our daily lives and associate them to memories of similar events and related emotions.
Regular cannabis users find that if they stop using, they experience strong and vivid dreams, which may be of concern to patients with PTSD and depression that have problems with nightmares. Cannabis will affect individuals differently depending on the strain, tolerance, dosage, and variety of other factors. Consult with a physician and medical marijuana professional about addressing sleeping disorders and nightmares, or stress and anxiety that might be triggering more serious issues and follow the links below to strains that have been reported to help others manage their nightmare disorder.
· [[Brand X]]
· [[Bronze Whaler]]
· [[Bubble Cheese]]
· [[Charlie Sheen]]
· [[Cream Caramel]]
· [[Crown OG]]
· [[Dank Schrader]]
· [[Death Bubba]]
· [[Double Purple Doja]]
· [[Easy Rider]]
· [[Emerald OG]]
· [[Flowerbomb Kush]]
· [[Fruit Chronic Juice]]
· [[Godfather OG]]
Jetly, Rakesh (2015) Psychoneuroendocrinology. The efficacy of nabilone, a synthetic cannabinoid, in the treatment of PTSD-associated nightmares: A preliminary randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled cross-over design study