Nightmare Disorder

Nightmare disorder, also known as dream anxiety disorder, is a sleep disorder characterized by frequent nightmares. The nightmares, which often portray the individual in a situation that jeopardizes their life or personal safety, usually occur during the REM stages of sleep.


Cluster Number:
Wiki Number: PW136
Diagnosis: Nightmare Disorder
US Patients: 4% of adults; 1% of children
World Patients:
Sex Ratio: M;W2
Age Onset:
Brain Area:
Symptoms: frequent nightmares involving personal safety, usually occurring during REM stages of sleep; remembers every detail of the dream
Progression: does not wake up screaming, but reduce daytime efficiencies from being “tired”; fear and physical aggression are the most common
Causes: PTSD, extreme stress, death of a loved one; 30% have other psychiatric illnesses
Medications: several antipsychotic medicines have reduced nightmares; hypnosis and relaxation may also help
Therapies: EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) have helped portions of those with PTSD or other threatening experiences.

Youtube Video: Nightmares and Treatment

Amazon or Library Book: Nightmareland

Click the book to link or buy from Amazon.

Support Group:; 630-737-9700

(American Academy of Sleep Medicine)


The world-wide medical research
reports chosen for each diagnosis 

Clicking each title opens the
PubMed article’s summary-abstract.

  • Quetiapine Treatment for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder: A Systematic Review of the Literature
    by Calogero Crapanzano on January 26, 2023

    Paroxetine and Sertraline are the only medications approved in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, about 60% of traumatized patients fail to show an adequate clinical response. Second generation antipsychotics are recommended as second-line monotherapy or third-line augmentation strategies and quetiapine appears as one of the most used and promising agents. Up to date, no reviews assessed the efficacy of quetiapine in the treatment of PTSD. We aimed to assess the effectiveness and...

  • Behavioural sleep problems in children
    by Chun Yi Ting on January 25, 2023

    Behavioural sleep problems are very common in children and are concerns for many parents. This review discusses normal sleep physiology and sleep development and focuses on common behavioural sleep problems in childhood, including behavioural insomnia of childhood, parasomnias and sleep-related movement disorders, highlighting their clinical features and management. Behavioural insomnia of childhood is characterised by learned difficulties in falling asleep and/or staying asleep. Management...

  • Emotional Memory Processing during REM Sleep with Implications for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
    by Young-Ah Rho on January 14, 2023

    REM sleep is important for the processing of emotional memories, including fear memories. Rhythmic interactions, especially in the theta band, between the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and limbic structures are thought to play an important role, but the ways in which memory processing occurs at a mechanistic and circuits level are largely unknown. To investigate how rhythmic interactions lead to fear extinction during REM sleep, we used a biophysically based model that included the infralimbic...

  • The Effects of Pharmacological Treatment of Nightmares: A Systematic Literature Review and Meta-Analysis of Placebo-Controlled, Randomized Clinical Trials
    by Mathilda Skeie-Larsen on January 8, 2023

    Nightmares are highly prevalent and distressing for the sufferer, which underlines the need for well-documented treatments. A comprehensive literature review and meta-analysis of the effects of different pharmacological placebo-controlled randomized clinical trials, covering the period up to 1 December 2022, was performed. Searches were conducted in PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, PsychInfo, Cinahl, and Google Scholar, resulting in the identification of 1762 articles, of which 14 met the...