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I've been having a lot of bad dreams lately

I've been having a lot of bad dreams lately, which are waking me up. I am a little anxious at work, but nothing out of the ordinary. I eat well, so I wondered what other causes to consider?

23 September 2019

Bad dreams or nightmares occur in the REM (rapid eye movement) part of sleep. They are usually linked to what's going on in your life at the time and reflect your current emotional state of mind.

There is no doubt that a period of stress will increase the chances of nightmares. Life events such as bereavement, personal illness, relationship problems or work pressures, to name but a few, are all likely to have an impact on your dreams so it's important to identify the stressors in your life and make changes where possible to reduce your anxiety levels.

AXA Health's mental health hub has lots of information, tips and techniques you can try to help you de-stress. Our article on self-care is another useful resource to help you switch off and enjoy valuable downtime.

Caffeine and alcohol can also sometimes cause nightmares, so consider cutting down your intake if applicable. Click on the links for help with these.

Medications such as sleeping pills and certain antidepressants can also be a contributing factor to nightmares. If you think this may apply to you, your GP may be able to suggest alternative medicines that don't cause this side-effect. 

In rarer situations, the causes of nightmares may be due to obstructive sleep apnoea, migraines or restless legs syndrome.

If your bad dreams continue it's worth getting checked out by a GP to find out what's causing them in your case and how they might be prevented.

Answered by the Health at Hand team 

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