NIGHTMARES

Updated January 22, 1999

What are nightmares?

Nightmares are frightening dreams that usually awaken the sleeper from REM sleep.

Nightmares have sometimes been referred to as dream anxiety attack, terrifying dream or REM nightmare. Nightmare is the preferred term and has been widely used to describe this condition for many years in the pediatric and adult literature. The reason the other terms have been suggested is to differentiate this phenomenon from sleep terrors (sometimes called stage 4 nightmares) on the assumption that nightmare was an overall lay term that covered the stage 4 as well as the REM sleep event. However, it is preferrable to use the term nightmares for the REM phenomena, as they differ radically from sleep terrors.

What are the symptoms?

Associated features:

Polysomnography (sleep recording) shows:

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