Submitted by bloodrose in AskRaddle

Somewhere between 2%-8% of adults have nightmares. This is a small and rare population. A lot of this population is people with PTSD for whom getting treatment for PTSD could possibly stop their nightmares. I am someone who gets debilitating nightmares and it is not caused by a health condition. I have nightmares that are full-fledged horror movies. I must fully wake for at least an hour or else I will go right back into my nightmare. For at least a month after a nightmare, the images will try to come into my mind when I try to sleep. It's basically a mini-PTSD. I employ techniques night after night to force the images out until eventually they are not scary. It can take up to a year or more to fully recover from one of these nightmares. I will still have some risidual images forever. I avoid horror movies so as not to give ammo to my brain to use against me later.

So, now to the question part: there are some people on raddle who have some pretty extensive drug knowledge. I know this is a very niche area, but does anyone know of a drug to stop nightmares? I'd even be okay with something that makes you never remember dreams again (obviously, I still need REM so dreams have to happen). Dreams are potentially scary. Any of them could be a nightmare so they can all fuck right off. Since this is so niche, I can't find anything in pharmaceuticals that aren't just "here, stop having emotions." I was wondering if there was a "hey, this drug is awesome but you'll stop dreaming if you take it." Most people I know like dreams and would be sad to lose them so I was hoping some folk knowledge of "this sucks because no dreams" would be available.

I'm grasping at straws so don't feel bad if you got nothing. But no one can say yes unless I at least ask. :)

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zoom_zip wrote

sorry this is not the advice you are looking for, but before going down that path

have you tried lucid dreaming? I’m guessing you have, but if not it might be something worth exploring. for giving you a way to keep control in your dreams and not letting them get to the point of horror

maybe

the other thing might be to just embrace total exposure/desensitisation — don’t use those techniques to hide the nightmares away, but hold onto them, let them stay in your head and percolate, until the brain isn’t scared of them anymore. watch those horror films. live out the experience until you recognise the absurdity in it

i know that’s easy for me to say with no real context or understanding of what you are going through. most likely you’ve tried both of these things and they haven’t worked, or maybe this is just bad advice. it sucks that you’re going through this and i hope you find something that helps : (

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bloodrose OP wrote

have you tried lucid dreaming?

Hell no, I hate dreaming. I want nothing to do with dreams/nightmares.

i know that’s easy for me to say with no real context or understanding of what you are going through.

You know that point in a scary movie where the music is going and then all of a sudden a cat jumps out and you scream and jump out of your seat? It's like being at that part of the movie all the time until the nightmare wears off.

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BorrowingBrov wrote

i used to get nightmares all the time then later I started lucid dreaming and they went away for the most part. i get that you don't want to dream at all but it's a bit easier to force yourself to wake up when you know you're dreaming.

but if you want drugs, i know this isnt as fun but you can always try to get prescribed prazosin or something. getting baked helps too though.

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Vulgar_Soda wrote

between 2%-8% of adults have nightmares

Oh. Lucky me.

As for not dreaming, I thought heavy use of marijuana was supposed to suppress the final stage of sleep associated with dreams, basically killing dreams/ nightmares for chronic users. So, go for it. Get high as fuck everyday before bed, pass out and never dream again. Though, fair warning, apparently dreams happen during the deepest cycle of sleep, so lessening that will also lessen your overall health. You kind of need deep sleep or your brain gets fucked in the long run. but weed junkies don't want to hear that.

Try it out and report back.

Full disclosure: I'm just some guy on the internet with zero medical knowledge. Please don't take my advice.

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catachresis wrote

Also not a medical proffessional and also a (biased) stoner, but from what I understand dreams occur during REM sleep and not during deep sleep which is when our body gets the most benefits from sleep. Cannabis use lowers the amount of time in REM sleep which is why weed smokers don’t dream when they sleep.

Afaik the most harmful thing about using weed to sleep is building a dependence on needing weed to sleep.

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aaaaargZombies wrote

I stopped smoking weed when I realized I'd stopped dreaming, but I was also getting very little sleep at the time which is often associated with longer periods of deep sleep and less REM.

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bloodrose OP wrote

You kind of need deep sleep or your brain gets fucked in the long run. but weed junkies don't want to hear that.

Oh my god, is that where the perma-stoned comes from? Haha

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black_fox wrote (edited )

i only have average person drug knowledge but the only thing that helps me is weed or heavy sedatives or melatonin. unfortunately for me weed and i don’t really get along (accepting advice), and the others will make me late to work. so every night is a new anxiety adventure

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bloodrose OP wrote

I too do not get along with weed.

so every night is a new anxiety adventure

From insomnia? Solidarity, my friend. I can only sleep without anxiety during the daytime.

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black_fox wrote

not insomnia. i can always fall asleep easily luckily. currently my anxiety likes to manifest itself in my dreams/nightmares

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bloodrose OP wrote

Aw, I'm so sorry. When my daughter was having troubles with some children in preschool, she had her first nightmare. It wasn't horror movie-type like mine but clearly a manifestation of anxiety: she dreamt she had to flush all her crayons down the toilet. My husband gets anxiety nightmares, too: he's had nightmares about us breaking up which trouble him. I don't know which I would rather, honestly. It sounds awful to have your life troubles bother you when you sleep. At least I know the gory body parts in my dream aren't real pretty quickly into the dream and need only to shout at myself to wake up.

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black_fox wrote

i think i’d prefer a nightmare. the feeling of anxiety for me can linger once i wake up

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lettuceLeafer wrote

I think heavy long term use benzos, phenibut, cannabis, alcohol basically suppresses dreams in my experience. But that wouldn't be very desirable for you. Cannabis is a bug one but I think that would be somewhat undesirable for you. Often times with cannabis consumption their is quite a bit of brain for initially. So as you complain about not having enough mental energy that would be very undesirable for you.

I bring up my experiences with dream suppression not because I think long term drug use would be helpful but due to an issue from the mechanic of dream suppression

With drugs there is almost never a free lunch and your brain tries to achieve homeostasis. So one you stop using cannabis or alcohol frequently the dreams for the next few weeks are going to me incredibly powerful and strong. So if u already struggle with too powerful dreams that rebound effect is prob going to be horrifying.

So I'd say a solution for the horrifying dreams wouldn't come from suppressing them. Drugs are kinda ironic in a way. Opiate users use opiates to relive pain mentally or physically but once they stop using or after long term use they become in more pain than ever. Manybuse stimulants to get more done in a day but after long term stim use they become even more unmotivated than ever.

So I say this as my guess would be that if u do find a drug that inhibits dreams there will be a rebound effect where the nightmares will be somehow even more unmanageable and terrifying.

If I was in your shoes I would try a different approach tbh. Despite thebissues of psycology id still say finding a good therapist could be a good angle. Many ptsd users find great relif if psycadelic drugs are used properly.

Since ur a parent it might be a good idea for u to use a legal psychedelic. DXM is legal and I honestly think it is prob a great psychedelic for dealing with ptsd because the hallucinations are closed eye. If you get an experience u find horrifying u can open you eyes and get a break unlike most psycadelics which are open eye hallucinations. You also disassociate which helps bring a new perspective but also disassociate u from the problem so reliving trauma might not be nearly as terrifying.

I'm not really into psycs tho so I can't offer more than that. Tho if u are curious about that avenue there is a lot to read u might find helpful. Most of it will apply to LSD or psycobin but most of it applied to DXM too. Be cautious of anyone who tells u to just try a drug or dive in. Since this is a traumatic issue u should be very careful and well research a strategy before you try it.

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Vulgar_Soda wrote (edited )

So one you stop using cannabis or alcohol frequently the dreams for the next few weeks are going to me incredibly powerful and strong.

Might explain the horror that is my dreams lately. Last night had me witnessing droves of insect covered rotting flesh, slowly undulating to the rhythm of a song no one could hear. I was forced to see mutated loved ones and indescribable monstrosities that would make even Lovecraft question his mediocrity.

Not anything I haven't experienced before, but the vividness of it all was new. It felt so real. and I couldn't escape.

I can still picture my brother's face slowly melting away while he screamed in agony, for making the mistake of eating a cockroach infested slice of cake. I had sex with a decapitated body while crying. Everything the monsters touched spread more monsters. The more I tried to run away from myself, the more my dreams squeezed tighter. The grasp of terror only letting go when I opened my eyes and was finally greeted with the hell world I call reality. Fun stuff.

I have a hard time getting excited for sleep despite being tired all the time. but the body requires rest if it is to survive the onslaught of capitalism. Wonder what tomorrow will bring?

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bloodrose OP wrote

I'm so sorry. Nightmare sufferer solidarity. hugs

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Vulgar_Soda wrote

Thank you. I hope you eventually find peace at night. You deserve it. We all do.

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bloodrose OP wrote

So I say this as my guess would be that if u do find a drug that inhibits dreams there will be a rebound effect where the nightmares will be somehow even more unmanageable and terrifying.

That's all a really good point.

finding a good therapist could be a good angle

Yeah, I mean, my therapist knows about it but all we can do is deal with the individual dreams as they happen because it isn't, like, a single instance of PTSD. It's like my brain just makes new shit up and I have to be all traumatized by it all over again.

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lettuceLeafer wrote (edited )

:(

Hopefully u figure out a way to manage.

I thought about ur issue for a bit and drugs that work on GABA-A GABA-b receptors seem to inhibit the dreams if used before bed.

While things like benzos or alcohol district sleep phenibut I don't dream and it doesn't inhibit sleep at all. So it could be useful that I use it like twice a week before bed so you only have 5 shitty nightmare days and 2 days of non nightmare sleep.

While phenibut isn't quite as wild as most benzos it's very important the u strictly limit how much u take. It's a drug not to be trifled with. If u can't confidently said that u would have no problem only taking it twice a week or less I wouldn't start using it.

That's all I could come up with. Maybe check on /r/nootropics for stuff that inhibits dreams. If u take it someone infrequently I think u could avoid the dream intensifying effect and get a day or two of less horrible sleep a week. Which could be a massive improvement.

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bloodrose OP wrote

I appreciate the time and effort you took to think of something. All these answers are making me realize that I may just be boned in this regard. But I really appreciate them!!

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NOISEBOB wrote

When i am not putting THC in my body, i dream....

I'm not sure if it's a good idea in your case and not at all what you are asking for, but chaga has a nice side-effect of making dreams more vivid. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inonotus_obliquus - chaga is amazing overall.

Dream herb should be good if you want to practice lucid dreaming, or so i heard.

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Ashy wrote

that sounds really scary :(

for many i hear melatonin gives them weird dreams but personally i dream less on it i think

i dunno if it's a good idea to really take anything else long-term tho

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[deleted] wrote

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Ashy wrote

oh holy yikes that sucks

i've been taking it on and off for many years and haven't experienced any issues

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bloodrose OP wrote

Same. I think the mechanic that gives you sleep paralysis from a drug happens no matter the drug. My husband can't take anything for sleep because he gets sleep paralysis. I am thankful that my problem does not include sleep paralysis. I leap out of bed so fast, I watch stuff go flying as I force myself awake.

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Ashy wrote

huh interesting

glad i don't have that. my sleep schedule would be so awful if not x3

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catachresis wrote (edited )

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and most of my knowledge espoused in this post is self-taught. I do not experience nightmares like you describe, but I do have PTSD and anxiety.

During REM sleep the body produces norepinephrine. While norepinephrine is at its highest during fight-or-flight, brain signals get fucked from PTSD and our bodies make norepinephrine when it doesn’t help us. My theory is this is where a lot of anxiety stems from.

As far as I’m aware the only way to decrease dreams is to lower the amount of time spent in REM sleep.

THC in cannabis lowers the amount of time spent in REM sleep and increases the amount of time in deep sleep. This is generally safe, but has been reported to increase morning groginess, brain fog, liver function, and lowered time spent asleep. Cannabis use also is known to lower anxiety and help PTSD symptoms as well. I’m not sure how accessible medical cannabis is for you and self medicating with street bud might not be the best choice.

Prozosin is a prescription drug that I just learned about used as a possible treatment for PTSD. It is an alpha-1 blocker. Alpha-1 are the receptors that norepinephrine and epinephrine (epinephrine is responsible for adrenaline) bind to, and because Prozasin blocks these molecules from attaching to the receptors PTSD symptoms, like nightmares should subside. Prozasin also increases blood pressure and possible chance of depression. I wouldn’t look towards Prozasin without talking to a doctor, or doing more research on side effects, weighing the risk to reward, and possible health effects of stopping use if it doesn’t work for you.

Herbs that help anxiety might also help, but I doubt will alleviate nightmares. Reishi mushroom might be worth looking into.

Other non-drugs that might be considered are a mindfulness meditation practice or breath work and proper sleep hygiene, like going to bed at the same time, clean sleep environment, avoiding stress and blue light before bed/after 11pm, etc.

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__0 wrote

Sometimes I feel like anxiety can cause nightmares, it's easy to forget that you have anxiety if it's just a baseline amount of anxiety, like if you are feeling unwell or under the weather as well, I find even if I think I'm doing ok I can end up having messed up dreams probably just from residual stress, or like maybe chronic pain affects dreams. As well as if I've had a particular disrupted sleep cycle. I don't know what's available to you as far as the medical system where you live, or if you have any chronic pain issues etc, but sometimes I feel like it's a lot of little things adding up and weighing on my subconscious that makes my dreams fucked up.

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__0 wrote

Like it sounds rediculous but maybe avoiding all the cliches that cause bad dreams, like don't eat a big meal before bed, drink lots of water throughout a day, take some light anti-inflammatorys don't eat cheese, or chocolate right before bed, don't go on your phone, watch movies or do anything highly stimulating right before bed, try and make your sleep cycle more consistent, eat more consistent meals, get a general health checkup, eat yogurt and take care of your gut/ flora. Make sure you sleep in a way that limbs don't fall asleep and you are an ok temperature, maybe try taking a shower before bed or do other things that can relax you before bed. Maybe a small dose of Ativan/lorazepam, there's also like signs of some things like mushrooms and LSD having antidepressive effects, but ofc like most things they aren't for everyone

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bloodrose OP wrote

or if you have any chronic pain issues etc

That's a good point. I woke up with both of my knees hurting instead of just the usual one. I wonder if they're related.

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GreenGiant wrote

Amitriptyline or Seroquel could help. One of the side effects is anterograde amnesia. You may experience the dream but will wake up with no memory of it.

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PunkRockDestroyer wrote

Firstly, I'm really sorry you have this adversity in your life; a restful, peaceful sleep is something that some of us take for granted.

I remember my dad used to have nightmares that he implied to have been comparable in horror-factor to yours. He wouldn't divulge too many details so as not to warp my precocious but empathetic and sometimes overly-sensitive little mind (nor would I want to give your brain more "ammo" with an overly detailed description), but he'd wake up screaming; the worst that he would tell me was of a dream wherein he was an observer of the crime scene/cleanup surrounding a train crash and privy to a graphic conversation the first responders et al were having. Knowing of at least one pertinent event from his youth, I would infer that his nightmares were a product of PTSD although I don't know if that diagnosis was ever rendered by a professional e.g. his therapist.

That being said (I believe at least one other commenter suggested this), his was given a low dose of a mild antipsychotic and it did resolve the issue for him. He was eventually treated for a host of other issues; he joked that I didn't grow up during the "good medication" years lol, which is not to imply that he was ever prescribed any of the "good"stuff, which goes to show how well a patient may respond to a legitimate therapeutic mental hygiene regimen. But it's a double-edged sword: with mental health, the best treatment is often the best guess, so my advice would be to only experiment with psych meds under doctor supervision, bc the results can be frightening in the case of their being the wrong option for that particular patient. If you're just experimenting, then you won't necessarily know the warning signs of impending issues that can have a drastic effect upon life as you know it.

Of course I'm well aware of how hard this capitalist society makes it for its citizens' in need of medical treatment (idk where you're located, but if affordable medical treatment is easier to come by in your country then unfortunately mental health issues and treatment are likely still stigmatized), but the treatment and medications I'm referencing could safely be rendered by a Family/GP, as was the case with my dad at that point. He was on a few mgs of Amitriptyline before bed IIRC, as was my brother, for a time, upon his return from combat in the great Oil War (they're of course not even allowed to seek/pursue mental health treatment and are thusly encouraged to hide, bury, and/or lie about any issue that exist/arise, lest they be compromised in their ability to be impervious, unflinching, killing machines).

I really hope this helps. And even more so that things get better for you, mate.

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throwaway wrote

Calea Zacatechichi. Brew a tea on dried leaves, or roll it up and smoke it. It's got an absolutely horrible taste, but the effects, although subtle, could be what you're looking for. I used to smoke the leaves each evening. After about 30 minutes, I got a little more drowsy than usual and fell asleep as soon as I hit the pillow, which was nice, and my dreams became much more elegant, vivid and fantastic. I rarely have nightmares, so I honestly can't say that it'll help for that specifically, but I had a feeling of regaining control over my dreams, and also having more "fulfilling" dreams so to speak. I woke up feeling more refreshed than I used to. It may have the opposite effect of what you're looking for, though: your nightmares becoming more vivid. It's a very mild herb, but still, be careful: do your research, read some reports and come to your own conclusions. If you decide to give it a try, I'd suggest easing into it to get a feeling for what you're dabbling with before going full hammer.

One thing of note is that - for me, at least - it took about 3 days of smoking the leaves each afternoon before I really felt the effects it had on my sleep. When I made tea on the leaves, I never noticed any effects. Its workings seem to vary a lot from person to person; a family member of mine tried it, too, and it resulted in them not remembering their dreams at all, not even in the slightest.

There may of course be some merit to the idea that you really shouldn't be looking for drugs. Carl Jung, who is an absolutely brilliant mind in my opinion, has written a good deal on dreams and sleep - Jung may be able to give you a hint of where you need to start looking.

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MHC wrote

Dreams are valuable guides. So I wouldn't get rid of them.

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