Ever been woken up by a nightmare? Or maybe you have a disturbing recurring dream that plagues you night after night. Nightmares can strike at any time without warning, and they have a variety of possible triggers — for example, maybe you watched a scary movie right before bed, or you're going through a stressful situation at work, or your dreams have just been bringing your worst fears to the surface.

Nightmares are relatively common in children but tend to decrease in frequency as we get older. You'll still probably experience nightmares every once in a while as an adult, but they shouldn't happen too frequently, and they shouldn't be disturbing enough to affect your daily life. If you're experiencing significant distress from your nightmares, Mayo Clinic suggests you may have nightmare disorder. Nightmare disorder is primarily characterized by frequent, persistent nightmares that cause major distress, like fear of falling asleep, sleepiness throughout the day, and anxiety about the content of your nightmares. If this sounds like something you're experiencing, consult a doctor for professional help.

If your nightmares are less severe, though, you can take steps to help stop them. Start by staying away from any potentially triggering material before bedtime and stay away from substances that could disrupt your sleep, like sugar.

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