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Any way of suppressing bad dreams?

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Applying to Uni? Let Universities come to you. Click here to get your perfect place 20-10-2014
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    Skip down for tl;dr.

    I reckon this is a bit of a long shot, as I've never heard of anything that works for this, but thought I'd ask anyway...

    My sleep has been really really awful lately. Can take me hours to get off to sleep, and then once I do sleep I wake up every 45 minutes to an hour. Every time I sleep I have at least one more bad dream (most of them aren't severe enough for me to call them nightmares, some of them just a bit creepy, but they still stick with me, especially the more violent ones).

    A few of the more disturbing images

    - Me with a massive load of scabs/scar tissue covering my arm, and being really scared of how it got there
    - Somebody firing nails through my feet with a crossbow, pinning me to the ground
    - Me cutting some kid's face open with a key - not massive injuries, but the kid is only 10/12 years old
    - Whole load of stuff with faecal matter being sprayed/smeared everywhere


    So I'm getting five or six of these dreams that I remember per day, and out of them the images from a few really stick in my head and freak me out some of the time. I know several likely causes for my bad sleeping at the moment (apart from that I've always been susceptible to insomnia): current medication (reboxetine), which since I started taking it has made my dreams more vivid and memorable, although not necessarily disturbing, current mental state - serious mental health problems including depression, plus anxiety and other newer symptoms I'm as yet unsure about, exam stress (although my next exam isn't for two weeks now).

    To improve my sleep I've already tried zopiclone (made me fall asleep only about 20 minutes earlier, still kept waking up and having the dreams), over the counter sleeping aids (zero effect on anything) and herbal tea which has helped me sleep in the past (zero effect this time). I've spoken to my GP and his only advice considering this was that I take diazepam, which I'd been prescribed already, to try and sleep better, however I'm reluctant to take this much, certainly not more often than maybe every four days, and this is a daily problem.

    The lack of and poor quality of sleep is really having a bad effect on me, but the thing that's getting to me most is the constant unpleasant dreaming. So if there's absolutely anything that people could recommend to try and help with this I'd be very grateful.

    tl;dr
    - problems getting off to and maintaining sleep, and constant unpleasant dreaming
    - 5-6 bad dreams a day, some of the images really disturbing me
    - possible causes medication (reboxetine), current poor state of mental health, exam stress
    - tried zopiclone, otc sleep aids, herbal tea to improve sleep - no real effect. GP's only recommendation diazepam (can't be a daily or long-term solution)
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    (Original post by superwolf;37575560
    [B
    )

    tl;dr[/B]
    - problems getting off to and maintaining sleep, and constant unpleasant dreaming
    - 5-6 bad dreams a day, some of the images really disturbing me
    - possible causes medication (reboxetine), current poor state of mental health, exam stress
    - tried zopiclone, otc sleep aids, herbal tea to improve sleep - no real effect. GP's only recommendation diazepam (can't be a daily or long-term solution)
    Main thing I can think of is maybe SSRIs if you can tolerate them (I can't remember your med history), a lot of them are known to decrease REM sleep in a lot of people so might help. Depends if you can tolerate them I guess or if your doctor is willing to add one to reboxetine.
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    (Original post by Exopaladin)
    Main thing I can think of is maybe SSRIs if you can tolerate them (I can't remember your med history), a lot of them are known to decrease REM sleep in a lot of people so might help. Depends if you can tolerate them I guess or if your doctor is willing to add one to reboxetine.
    I was only ever on citalopram in terms of SSRIs, which really didn't go well for me at all and I had to be taken off it. Given that and all the mental health stuff I've got going on right now I suspect my doctor would rather not add in another drug on top of the stuff I'm already taking, but cheers for the suggestion - I'll bear the suppressing REM sleep thing in mind.
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    Ask Gaius for a sleeping tonic
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    I wish I knew the answer to this, I have the same problem. :sigh:

    You could try low dose quetiapine as it has a tendency to knock people out.
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    (Original post by Sabertooth)
    I wish I knew the answer to this, I have the same problem. :sigh:

    You could try low dose quetiapine as it has a tendency to knock people out.
    :console:


    Hell no! :eek: Was on it for just one week, but never again.
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    Oh boy, terror nightmares.

    Sorry, but this one is for the GP unless you can identify the stressor.
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    (Original post by superwolf)
    ...
    For getting to sleep you can try:
    -Mug of chamomile tea (leave to brew for 15mins with it covered for max potency), or warm milk (contains casomorphin, a mild opiate).
    -You could also try Valerian root (be warned it stinks) or chamomile in tablet form, both have mild relaxing and sedating properties.
    -I wouldn't recommend sleeping tablets from my experience

    For better quality sleep/dreams:
    -meditating before bed, to get you anxiety/stress down
    -focus on the tasks of the next day/something you are looking forward to/something positive whilst drifting off; might help to distract your mind/take it off other things
    -Refrain from any stimulating technology (laptop/TV) 30mins-1hr before bed, read instead. Dim the lights too if you can.
    -If you aren't getting enough sleep use a blackout blind to darken the room? This doesn't work for me as I like to be woken by the sun, still its worth a try.

    Might also want to look into lucid dream training, to help you feel in more control of bad dreams. Might reduce nightmares (being woken up) too.

    Good luck.

    EDIT: Yup, its not just me. Lucid Dream Training HAS been found to be successful in trials at reducing nightmare frequency. Best part, its free (theres plenty of info on the internet)!
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    (Original post by RJ555)
    For getting to sleep you can try:
    -Mug of chamomile tea (leave to brew for 15mins with it covered for max potency), or warm milk (contains casomorphin, a mild opiate).
    -You could also try Valerian root (be warned it stinks) or chamomile in tablet form, both have mild relaxing and sedating properties.
    -I wouldn't recommend sleeping tablets from my experience

    For better quality sleep/dreams:
    -meditating before bed, to get you anxiety/stress down
    -focus on the tasks of the next day/something you are looking forward to/something positive whilst drifting off; might help to distract your mind/take it off other things
    -Refrain from any stimulating technology (laptop/TV) 30mins-1hr before bed, read instead. Dim the lights too if you can.
    -If you aren't getting enough sleep use a blackout blind to darken the room? This doesn't work for me as I like to be woken by the sun, still its worth a try.

    Might also want to look into lucid dream training, to help you feel in more control of bad dreams. Might reduce nightmares (being woken up) too.

    Good luck.

    EDIT: Yup, its not just me. Lucid Dream Training HAS been found to be successful in trials at reducing nightmare frequency. Best part, its free (theres plenty of info on the internet)!
    Thanks for all the ideas. I've tried a few of them already, but I'll look into all the others.
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    I've got a similar problem:
    http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/show....php?t=1994522

    I'm going to see my psychiatrist tomorrow so I'm going to ask him and hopefully he'll be able to point me in the right direction.
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    (Original post by Rybee)
    I've got a similar problem:
    http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/show....php?t=1994522

    I'm going to see my psychiatrist tomorrow so I'm going to ask him and hopefully he'll be able to point me in the right direction.
    Yeah I saw your thread, wish I could have posted something useful. :console: I hope your psychiatrist can help though.
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    Update: I've now been prescribed zolpidem for my insomnia - I don't think it's supposed to have any particular effect on dreaming, but hopefully if it lets me sleep better then I might get a knock-on effect with the dreaming as well. I'll post again if anything in particular happens with that.
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    I'm surprised you haven't been dreaming like this before now just from the impression I get of you in this post. Why are you trying to surpress and get rid of individual symptoms and signs of your actual illnesses rather than recognising them as such and knowing you just have to continue resolving/find better ways to resolve the root causes?
    How can you talk about your mental health problems as though they're almost completely separate to the dreams? Where do you think dreams come from, space?
    'My Diabetes is getting really bad, I'm taking drugs but what else can I do? Bearing in mind I have serious diet problems.'
    They're one and the same thing, I hate to tell you this but - the only real way to help with your sleep and dreams is to resolve your mental health issues, which is a long process that requires a lot of determination, personal effort, work, introspection: realisations and action. You must already be doing this of course since you're diagnosed and being treated, it will just take time. There is nothing else, nothing separate that we can say you could try - only the miriad of things you must do for your mental health.

    The individual symptoms can not be resolved with drugs, tips or tricks. You can temporarily make things easier, you can knock yourself out, and things that help with sleep longterm are always good for mental health problems anyway (integral to treatment even) - but the fact is I don't believe the way you are looking at this is helpful.

    By trying to just suppress signs of your illness, you're not going to be helping yourself in the long term. Getting more sleep synthetically without affecting real change will definitely give you more ability and help in lessening/resolving your problems (so can be extremely helpful in the short term to help you to help yourself), but if you're still not using that energy in the right way anyway then they'll still be there.

    This is of course assuming you are capable of recovery at least to an extent. Having depression is a serious illness, but it's not like 'that's it then'. It's not like you just have it and it will get worse for the rest of your life so all you can do is make yourself as comfortable as possible. It is something you can work with and on, learn about, become fully aware of and overcome/find the best possible living strategy to keep it controlled.

    I've probably deeply offended you I'm sure, you were probably thinking 'yes, I know about all this, I know what depression is and what you have to do, I have it! Stop patronising me. I wasn't asking about this thank you very much!' but that's my point...
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    (Original post by superwolf)
    .............
    A slightly odd question, but upon waking from these dreams, what sleeping position do you find yourself in?
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    (Original post by WildBerrySpirit)
    A slightly odd question, but upon waking from these dreams, what sleeping position do you find yourself in?
    Hmm, I *think* I'm usually lying on my back or side - takes me a while to properly wake up and work out what's going on though, so I'm not really sure. Why, got any interesting ideas?
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    (Original post by Ribbits)
    I'm surprised you haven't been dreaming like this before now just from the impression I get of you in this post. Why are you trying to surpress and get rid of individual symptoms and signs of your actual illnesses rather than recognising them as such and knowing you just have to continue resolving/find better ways to resolve the root causes?
    How can you talk about your mental health problems as though they're almost completely separate to the dreams? Where do you think dreams come from, space?
    'My Diabetes is getting really bad, I'm taking drugs but what else can I do? Bearing in mind I have serious diet problems.'
    They're one and the same thing, I hate to tell you this but - the only real way to help with your sleep and dreams is to resolve your mental health issues, which is a long process that requires a lot of determination, personal effort, work, introspection: realisations and action. You must already be doing this of course since you're diagnosed and being treated, it will just take time. There is nothing else, nothing separate that we can say you could try - only the miriad of things you must do for your mental health.

    The individual symptoms can not be resolved with drugs, tips or tricks. You can temporarily make things easier, you can knock yourself out, and things that help with sleep longterm are always good for mental health problems anyway (integral to treatment even) - but the fact is I don't believe the way you are looking at this is helpful.

    By trying to just suppress signs of your illness, you're not going to be helping yourself in the long term. Getting more sleep synthetically without affecting real change will definitely give you more ability and help in lessening/resolving your problems (so can be extremely helpful in the short term to help you to help yourself), but if you're still not using that energy in the right way anyway then they'll still be there.

    This is of course assuming you are capable of recovery at least to an extent. Having depression is a serious illness, but it's not like 'that's it then'. It's not like you just have it and it will get worse for the rest of your life so all you can do is make yourself as comfortable as possible. It is something you can work with and on, learn about, become fully aware of and overcome/find the best possible living strategy to keep it controlled.

    I've probably deeply offended you I'm sure, you were probably thinking 'yes, I know about all this, I know what depression is and what you have to do, I have it! Stop patronising me. I wasn't asking about this thank you very much!' but that's my point...
    Err no comment on the impression of you I get from your post... :unsure:

    - I am trying to get rid of individual symptoms because I am currently experiencing a large range of different symptoms, all of which I am aware are linked to my depression to some extent, but some of which are so large and overwhelming that as a whole I've basically reached breaking point trying to cope with having every single one of them. Since it takes a lot more time and effort to get rid of an entire massive problem such as my depression (a problem I've been battling with on and off for many years), it's kinda necessary that I still be around and functioning in order to be able to do that. So if I get rid of some of the smaller, but still distressing, problems such as my sleep issues, this will hopefully give me a little respite in order to keep on trying to deal with the bigger issue of the depression. You might want to look into the concept of 'palliative care'.
    - like I say I know my mental health problems are linked to my dreams - the most likely sequence of events seems to be that I was started on reboxetine a few weeks ago (for depression, but it was stable-ish at that stage), this then caused me to have vivid but not unduly distressing dreams, then my mental health took a nosedive (*possible* link to the reboxetine itself) and the dreams suddenly became disturbing. However if I were to actually take the time to detail what's been going on recently with my mental health not only would it take several pages (which very few people would read), but it would also be swiftly deleted from TSR (meaning it would in fact be read by only one unfortunate mod). As you may or may not realise, this would not gain me many answers to my question which, as I maintain, is still worth asking even if it does not address the wider issue.
    - as you correctly surmise, I'm already doing or have done a fair range of things in an attempt to improve my depression. I can introspect as well as the next man, as my bellybutton will happily tell you. I try to help others in similar situations, which has afforded me some insight into my own. I try, although unfortunately usually fail, to exercise (well, minimally...), eat alright, throw myself into my studies... and some of the time I say screw it and just have a good old pagan sacrifice. The ocean of cognitive behavioural therapy has had toes cautiously dipped into it, only to be swiftly withdrawn with chilblains (to anyone still inexplicably reading at this point: what exactly is a chilblain? And is it catching?). Note has been taken of mindfulness although no raisins were actually eaten. Drugs a-plenty have been washed down my throat, with a range of intriguing consequences (on a serious note, I was actually genuinely cured last year, for over six months even. A beautiful time, but I don't know how to get back. *blathers about unfaithful and fickle clomipramine*)
    - as just stated, I am indeed capable of full and glorious recovery. It's just that for me that takes drugs, and drugs take time. And they give you bad dreams. And they make you make threads. And people answer the threads. And before you know it, you're in a hell of a state.


    I very much hope that this was the answer you wished for - it is always an honour to meet a fellow-spirit.


    To anybody else: well what do you expect from a crazy person getting four hours sleep a night?
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    (Original post by superwolf)
    Hmm, I *think* I'm usually lying on my back or side - takes me a while to properly wake up and work out what's going on though, so I'm not really sure. Why, got any interesting ideas?
    Maybe, although I don't know how much help it'll be.

    I'm uncertain as to whether this would apply to horrific dreams, but I used to experience nightmares, and sleep paralysis quite reguarly. I still do, but the occurance has fallen substantially.

    What I learnt and found to be effective in minimising anymore episodic nightmares, was to avoid certain sleeping positions.
    Avoid sleeping with your hands on your chest in any sleep position, but particularly the back. Also avoid having your hands over your head whilst sleeping on your back.
    Obviously, you can't control this whilst being asleep, but give it a try beforehand.

    I realised that everytime I experienced SP, I awoke with my hands on my chest/heart.
    It's worth noting that the next time you do experience these dreams, when you do awake, pay attention to your sleeping position.
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    Hey, im sorry to hear about your bad dreams!

    Have you had any bad or traumatic experiences? Recently or fairly recently?

    My sleep is messed up too. I find it difficult getting to sleep- it can take me hours. Cant stay asleep. Have terrifying or downright unpleasant dreams. Have paralysis and have had out of body experiences too. I can lucid dream.

    So yes, sleeping isnt pleasant for me!

    So i kinda know what you might be going through. I dont know what to suggest, except if its bother you a lot go and see your doctor?
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    (Original post by WildBerrySpirit)
    Maybe, although I don't know how much help it'll be.

    I'm uncertain as to whether this would apply to horrific dreams, but I used to experience nightmares, and sleep paralysis quite reguarly. I still do, but the occurance has fallen substantially.

    What I learnt and found to be effective in minimising anymore episodic nightmares, was to avoid certain sleeping positions.
    Avoid sleeping with your hands on your chest in any sleep position, but particularly the back. Also avoid having your hands over your head whilst sleeping on your back.
    Obviously, you can't control this whilst being asleep, but give it a try beforehand.

    I realised that everytime I experienced SP, I awoke with my hands on my chest/heart.
    It's worth noting that the next time you do experience these dreams, when you do awake, pay attention to your sleeping position.
    Sounds interesting, although I can't say I recognise any of those patterns in myself (don't remember the position of my hands particularly though - I'll keep an eye out in future). And I get the dreams every single time I go to sleep I think, if that makes a difference.

    Glad you're getting your own sleep problems under control.

    (Original post by pinkangelgirl)
    Hey, im sorry to hear about your bad dreams!

    Have you had any bad or traumatic experiences? Recently or fairly recently?

    My sleep is messed up too. I find it difficult getting to sleep- it can take me hours. Cant stay asleep. Have terrifying or downright unpleasant dreams. Have paralysis and have had out of body experiences too. I can lucid dream.

    So yes, sleeping isnt pleasant for me!

    So i kinda know what you might be going through. I dont know what to suggest, except if its bother you a lot go and see your doctor?
    Sorry you've got sleep problems too. :console:

    Nah, no recent traumas, I'm pretty sure the scary aspect of the dreams is down to my worsening depression/other mental health problems though if that counts. And like I say in the OP I've been to the GP (for a second time now) - he's given me some new sleeping pills so fingers crossed they'll help at least a bit.

    I hope you're getting help for your problems too, and that they get sorted soon.
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    Further update: the zolpidem helped me get to sleep quickly and stay asleep (I *think* without dreams) for maybe three hours, which is an improvement, but after that I think it wore off cos I went back to the waking up with tons of horrible dreams thing. Still, I think it gave me an hour or two's extra dreamless sleep, so that's something to be thankful for.

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