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What causes nightmares when sleeping on the back?

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Posted on Fri, 13 May 2016
Question: I have nightmares everytime i fall asleep on my back. I end up turning over onto my right or left side then im fine afterwards. What could be the cause?
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Answered by Dr. Alexander H. Sheppe (57 minutes later)
Brief Answer:
Consultation

Detailed Answer:
Hello, and thanks for your question.

You describe nightmares when sleeping on your back, which resolve when you turn onto your side. There is no clear medical reason for this phenomenon you describe. It may be that your body is more comfortable in REM sleep when you are on your back, which is the phase of sleep in which dreams occur. Perhaps the nightmares signal your body to turn, which then wakes you up and stops the nightmare. Either way, I would not worry too much about this -- nightmares usually don't stay long, and should go away on their own.

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In the future, for continuity of care, I encourage you to contact me directly at my private link below. After you ask a direct question, it would be my pleasure to be your dedicated personal physician on this website. My name is Dr. Sheppe, and I am an XXXXXXX doctor working in New York City at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, ranked #1 for Psychiatry in the United States (tinyurl.com/psyrank). For a personalized comprehensive evaluation, treatment recommendations, and individual therapy, ask me at HealthCareMagic at this private link: tinyurl.com/DrSheppeAnswers
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Prasad
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Dr. Alexander H. Sheppe

Psychiatrist

Practicing since :2014

Answered : 2240 Questions

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What causes nightmares when sleeping on the back?

Brief Answer: Consultation Detailed Answer: Hello, and thanks for your question. You describe nightmares when sleeping on your back, which resolve when you turn onto your side. There is no clear medical reason for this phenomenon you describe. It may be that your body is more comfortable in REM sleep when you are on your back, which is the phase of sleep in which dreams occur. Perhaps the nightmares signal your body to turn, which then wakes you up and stops the nightmare. Either way, I would not worry too much about this -- nightmares usually don't stay long, and should go away on their own. Please rate and close this answer when you are finished and satisfied. In the future, for continuity of care, I encourage you to contact me directly at my private link below. After you ask a direct question, it would be my pleasure to be your dedicated personal physician on this website. My name is Dr. Sheppe, and I am an XXXXXXX doctor working in New York City at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, ranked #1 for Psychiatry in the United States (tinyurl.com/psyrank). For a personalized comprehensive evaluation, treatment recommendations, and individual therapy, ask me at HealthCareMagic at this private link: tinyurl.com/DrSheppeAnswers