Why Do I Get Nightmares?


by D’Arcy Lyness, PhD


Why Do I Get Nightmares?

Stressful things that happen during the day can turn dreams into nightmares. Nightmares may be a way to relieve the pressures of the day. This usually means dealing with things most kids have to face at one time or another: problems at home, problems at school, and stress from sports or schoolwork. Sometimes major changes, such as moving or the illness or death of a loved one, can cause stress that leads to nightmares.

Another thing that may cause nightmares is watching scary movies or reading scary books, especially before you go to bed.

Sometimes if you are sick, especially with a high fever, you may have nightmares. Certain medications also can cause nightmares. Let your parents and doctor know if you notice you are having more nightmares around the time you started a new medicine.

But sometimes you might have a nightmare for no reason at all.

How Can I Prevent Nightmares?

Although it is normal to have a nightmare once in a while, there are some techniques you can try to get nightmares under control.

Get into a healthy sleep routine. Try to go to bed about the same time and wake up at the same time every day. Unless you’re sick or didn’t get enough sleep the night before, avoid naps during the day. Avoid eating or exercising just before bedtime. Avoid scary books or movies before bedtime if you think they might be causing your nightmares.

Sleep with a stuffed toy or favorite blanket. This helps some kids feel more secure.

Use a nightlight. Even if you gave up yours up years ago, you might want to turn it back on. With a nightlight, if you awake from a nightmare, you’ll be able to see familiar things and remember where you are.

Keep your door open. This will help you remember that your family is close by. If you are scared, get up and find someone for reassurance. You’re never too old for a hug!

This article is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.


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