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. Though such nightmares occur within many people, those with nightmare disorder experience them with a greater frequency.Nightmares in adults are often spontaneous. But they can also be caused by a variety of factors and underlying disorders. Some people have nightmares after having a late-night snack, which can increase metabolism and signal the brain to be more active. A number of medications also are known to contribute to nightmare frequency.
Imagery rehearsal treatment is a promising cognitive behavioral therapy for recurrent nightmares and nightmares caused by PTSD. The technique helps chronic sufferers change their nightmares by rehearsing how they would like them to transpire. 10-50% of those aged 3-6 years are estimated to suffer from nightmares that disturb their sleep, or that of their parents. They normally start between the ages of 2-5 years. A cross-sectional study of 4- to 12-year-olds suggests a peak prevalence between 7 and 9 years, with 87% and 95.7% of children retrospectively reporting bad dreams often or sometimes.Little research exists on the use of medicines to treat nightmares from trauma.