Living with Nightmares


Adult nightmares. It’s not something we talk about very often.

It’s estimated that approximately 2%-8% of the adult population experience nightmares. I didn’t actually realise how unusual this was for a long time because for me it was such a normal part of my life. It was only after mentioning it in passing a few times that I discovered other people my age weren’t having the same problem. I started looking into it and found that actually, it’s pretty uncommon.

Nightmares are associated with children, which in some ways makes it a slightly embarrassing problem to have. Being afraid of sleeping, and of things that aren’t real, doesn’t feel like something that should follow you into adulthood.

I can remember having nightmares since I was little, and there’s no period in my life in which they have stopped. They come in many forms for me. Some are abstract and nonsense, and I can’t really recall them when I wake up. Others are realistic and at times lucid. One is recurring: I am in a situation in which either a person or some sort of force is stopping me from being able to scream or move and I am being attacked in various different ways. The situation is always different but the premise is always the same. Sometimes when I wake up I don’t realise it’s not real and those moments are genuinely terrifying.

I frequently need to be woken up by my boyfriend, and recently woke us both up screaming. A friend had to wake me up out of a nightmare when we went on holiday together. It shouldn’t be embarrassing, but it is.

I don’t have them every night, probably once or twice a week, and it’s not enough that I fear going to sleep. But I am afraid to fall back to sleep afterwards. I am frequently tired from my sleep being so disturbed, and sometimes the trauma of what I have dreamt follows me into the day, despite me knowing full well that it’s not real.

I don’t really see this topic be discussed very often – which makes sense given that it’s not a common problem, but if you are an adult out there having nightmares, don’t be ashamed! You’re not alone.

And if you have experienced this as an adult, I would love to hear anything you have tried that has helped you.

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Experiencing adult nightmares


  1. That’s so strange! I thought everyone had nightmares!! I hate it when I dream I can’t move or cry for help. Sometimes my nightmares are very weird too, because nothing bad is actually happening, but it FEELS like something horrible is about to happen at any time. Sometimes I have some really bad ones too. When I was little my mom told me to imagine a different ending to the nightmare and that actually helped me fall back asleep without fear. But if I have really bad nightmares I have to distract myself with something else before I can go back to sleep. Having my husband by my side certainly helps, so I’m glad you have your boyfriend!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad I do too! I know I was the same when I found out, I was so surprised that it wasn’t just a normal part of sleep! Totally get where you’re coming from with the feeling as well, it’s horrible. Sorry you have these experiences too 💛


  2. I have had sleep paralysis on three occasions and would not wish it on my worse enemy. Today i am here about the dreams, you could call them nightmares but they are more like hyper realistic death (my death every night) with all the details including getting buried while no one hears my screams. My question to anyone is if you notice the dreams change or increase with changes in medication for anxiety & depression. Currently Clonazepam and Seroquel.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I very, very rarely dream at all. I’m obviously glad I don’t have nightmares, but I kind of feel I’m missing out sometimes as I think dreams can tell us interesting things.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I started having nightmares some years ago, I thought it was out of stress, normally it happened when I was more worried about something, and more than the images it was the feeling, it was hard to wake up and I truly had to fight myself so I could properly wake up in order not to fall into the same dream again. But I remember all of them, actually I started to write them and now I am writing a story about a woman with night terror, it’s crazy. There’s is a long time I haven had nightmares by now, but I don’t know if they will come back.


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