How do I stop excessive dreams?
April 17, 2008 12:48 PM   Subscribe

I have excessive dream recall (I dream too much.) I frequently confuse the details of my realistic dreams for reality meaning I reference things in conversation that never happened. If I'm anxious the dreams are nightmares but not night terrors. Anyone mastered this problem? If so, how?

I take 10mg Lexapro for generalized anxiety disorder.
I had a prescription for Adivan which I took at night and knocked me out cold. I didn't dream and I woke refreshed. My doctor won't prescribe it because she thinks it will stop working.
posted by kristymcj to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
This may not be helpful...but when I smoke marijuana within 6-8 hours of going to bed, I have almost zero dream recall. You could perhaps try something legal & herbal like damiana, valerian, or catnip.
posted by gnutron at 1:12 PM on April 17, 2008

get a referral to a sleep specialist. there are different medications you can try, plus relaxation/sleep techniques that may help.
posted by thinkingwoman at 1:15 PM on April 17, 2008

Seconding gnutron. When I smoke weed before sleeping, I also have near zero dream recall.
posted by PowerCat at 1:16 PM on April 17, 2008

Hmm - valerian, which is found in some herbal teas, causes crazy dreams in many people, including me. And if you start smoking marijuana to sleep, you'll have a hard time backing off when you realize being high all the time isn't as fun as it sounds. Trust me on that one.

Your doctor is also probably worried you'll become dependent on Adivan.

Maybe you should try some lifestyle changes instead.

Perhaps cutting back on caffeine, especially in the afternoon. And eating dinner several hours before bed, with no late-night snacks. If you hit snooze over and over in the morning, that can give you lots of brief "waking" dreams to freak out to later, as well.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 1:20 PM on April 17, 2008

Being high all the time isn't nice.
Just smoke one joint before going to bed. Of course it's easy to abuse medicine - any kind of medicine. It's all about self control.
posted by PowerCat at 1:24 PM on April 17, 2008

If you hit snooze over and over in the morning, that can give you lots of brief "waking" dreams to freak out to later, as well.

Yes, definitely avoid the snooze. I personally rarely remember my dreams unless I hit the snooze button or otherwise fall asleep for a shorter than normal period of time.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:25 PM on April 17, 2008

I'm guessing it's the Lexapro. When I started taking Lexapro, my dreams became very vivid and real-seeming. I'd wake up feeling emotional or angry over something sad or maddening that happened in a dream. I'd have to take a few minutes to clear my head and remind myself that it wasn't real. It's very discombobulating to say the least.
posted by amyms at 1:37 PM on April 17, 2008

I wonder if keeping a dream journal would help. If you'd written something down in the dream journal that would remove (reduce?) the possibility of considering it real later.
posted by dixie flatline at 1:42 PM on April 17, 2008

Do you use an alarm? I'm not currently on any meds, so I can't speak to that, but waking by alarm pretty much eliminates any dream recall for me. (And I don't hit snooze - the alarm goes off, I shut it off and stagger out of bed.)
posted by rtha at 1:51 PM on April 17, 2008

Whenever I've been on antidepressants, the 'volume' of my dreams seems to go way up. I hate it, but it's better than being depressed.

My imperfect method is to simply avoid thinking about my dreams when I first wake up. If I do, it sort of 'anchors' them in my memory. If I don't, they fade a lot easier. Unfortunately, it doesn't stop those moments when I clearly remember things like 'Oh, I can't take the car. I left it parked outside the hospital when my mother and sister were having babies at the same time' but at least the dream isn't hovering around in between those moments.

Good luck. I'll be watching this thread.
posted by happyturtle at 1:59 PM on April 17, 2008

If you take a multivitamin, you might check the amount of B vitamins it provides. They're associated with dream recall, and in my case they also make me antsy.
posted by PatoPata at 2:23 PM on April 17, 2008

It seems to me that the conditions you've outlined are a perfect situation in which to start cultivating lucid dreaming. One of the techniques involved in learning how to dream lucidly is reality testing; if you suspect you're dreaming, you have ways to check to see if you are or not. That might help with the confusion you're having.

Lucid dreaming also excels at helping to deal with nightmares.

And one of the things you have to have in order to start is excellent dream recall.

Frankly, I'm a bit jealous; I've been working hard to improve my dream recall lately, and I'm having almost no luck.

Granted this isn't a way of learning to stop having dreams, but it is an excellent way to turn them to your advantage. Lucid dreaming is absolutely amazing.

For more information on lucid dreaming, check out:
posted by MrVisible at 2:29 PM on April 17, 2008

When I am meditating regularly I usually have fewer dreams. Regularly for me means meditating about 20 minutes every night before I go to bed. I really missed my dreams which makes me not want to meditate. I believe that this is happening because I am processing stuff in meditation that I then don't have to process through my dreams.

There is an interesting book called The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep that has some interesting meditations and processes based on the idea that all of life is a dream and that help you see "reality" as a dream and dreams as reality so that you can work on karmic issues whether awake or asleep. This might further your feeling of crossover, or it might give you some control over it, not sure.
posted by kenzi23 at 2:33 PM on April 17, 2008

I experience the same thing. I often remember things that happened, but then realize later that it happened in a dream. I am not on any medication. I do find that exercise helps me not remember my dreams so much. I sleep a lot more soundly if I exercise in the evenings than if I exercise in the mornings. But it still happens at times.

Is this a huge issue for you? Is it affecting your work or social life? I ask because while I find myself bringing up dream events in conversation, my friends usually correct me, and it's ok. I've never had it come up in a work-related situation that mattered (i.e. it's happened when talking to colleagues but never in important meetings or with my supervisor). Maybe it's because I don't dream about work that much. Your question makes me wonder if I should get checked out, as I've never before viewed this as being a huge problem.
posted by bluefly at 2:44 PM on April 17, 2008

I think if you try to ignore or suppress dreams entirely, you're missing out on an opportunity to work out some internal conflicts before they blow up into externalized, real-world dramas. Hence, again, the suggestion that maybe by writing dreams down you could firmly place those experiences in the "dream" category right away and remove the confusion.

In any case, if it were me, my approach would be to see if I could use the dreams as allies rather than trying to get rid of them.
posted by dixie flatline at 2:50 PM on April 17, 2008

I've had the problem occasionally when I have inadequate sleep - no idea exactly how it works, but it sucks when they're so realistic that you misremember them as real. Not fun.

Are you sleeping enough? And routinely?
posted by kisch mokusch at 4:45 PM on April 17, 2008

Lucid dreaming++.

It's like a holodeck in your head.
posted by Netzapper at 7:51 PM on April 17, 2008

Best answer: I'm a pretty intense dreamer, and normally it's not that bad. I remember dreams that I had 15 years ago, and I have some problems separating a dream from what actually happened that long ago as well. Are you saying that you're having problems separating recent events from recent dreams? If so, I tend to remember the dreams more if I think about them when I wake up. So don't write them down, don't think about them, don't try to piece the dream events together and it will hopefully fade. If I make a mistake in conversation about something I've dreamed about, I've always found a quick dismissal of "I must have misremembered" or even "I must've dreamed that" brushes away my mistake with minimal confusion.

I took 10 mg of Lexapro for a year and a half and it made my dreams infinitely more disturbing. Most took on a a slightly sinister and nightmare-esque tone that basically stopped when I went off the medicine. I also dreamed a lot more in general when I was on the Lexapro (as in several dreams every night rather than one every other day or so). The other thing that helps me not dream as much is clearing my mind before falling asleep. Lying in bed is generally the only time I have to think about what I want and my mind generally races, for hours if I'd let it. If I don't try to stop it I generally fall asleep and dream pretty heavily, but if I focus on clearing my mind I slip into sleep easier and dream less.
posted by lilac girl at 8:31 AM on April 18, 2008

Best answer: Just an update: I stopped taking the Lexapro and the dreams stopped immediately!
posted by kristymcj at 8:08 PM on August 19, 2008

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