In your dreams: the effect of medications
Sleeping is one of the great pleasures in life, unless you have bad dreams or nightmares. Then it can be pure misery.
Most of us do dream during sleep, In fact, we have about 100,000 dreams during the average lifetime.
But most of us don’t remember our dreams. Statistics say that within five or ten minutes of waking up, about 90 percent of your dreams are forgotten, unless you write them down right after waking.
Luckily, a man named Larry Page remembered his dream. He was a 23-year-old computer scientist who woke up from a dream wondering if there was a way to “download the web” and rank web pages by inbound links. He went on to become a co-founder of Google!
Now 45 years old, Page has a net worth according to Forbes of $52 billion. Talk about making money when you sleep!
Here are some facts about dreaming that you may be interested in.
Anxiety is the most common emotion felt during dreams. You might experience it as falling, flying, or feeling unprepared or humiliated in your dream.
You might become incapable of movement during a vivid dream. That’s because dreams tend to occur during the REM phase of sleep.
During this time, characterized by rapid eye movements (hence REM), your muscles go into a mild state of paralysis so that dreaming can occur safely. This prevents us from acting out, and running or jumping out a window if we’re chased in a dream.
If you lose your sight later in life, you can still dream visually like when you had your eyesight. Those who were born blind may not dream in realistic images, but can still dream and experience sounds, touch sensations and emotions during their dream state.
Those of us who grew up with black and white TVs tend to dream mostly in black and white. It’s not that you can’t dream in color. It’s just that more dreams are in black and white than in color if you’re older. I can’t explain why, but it’s been proven.
Dogs dream. You will often hear them whimper or see their paws twitching. When this happens, it is believed they are running in their dreams.
Here are how some common medications can affect your dreams:
Acid reflux drugs
Heartburn medications such as ranitidine (Zantac) and famotidine (Pepcid), used to treat heartburn, can sometimes induce vivid dreams and nightmares. So can allergy drugs like diphenhydramine.
Antidepressants such as fluoxetine and paroxetine increase serotonin and may trigger intense or disturbing dreams that seem to go on all night.
Think of Benadryl, an allergy drug that is relabeled and sold as a sleep aid. It can definitely help one sleep, but it can also cause vivid dreaming and, in rare instances, sleep walking.
Antihistamines suppress cholinergic compounds in the body, leading to dryness. They also interfere with REM sleep.
If you have asthma or obstructive airway disease, you are more likely to have bad dreams. And if you take medications to treat it, this increases the risk of vivid dreams and nightmares even further.
Some research was done on montelukast (Singulair), and there appears to be a link between this drug and nightmares, especially in children.
Please do not stop medication for this condition. Just be aware of the possible side effects, and more compassionate to your child if they wake in the wee hours with a bad dream.
Blood pressure drugs
Blood pressure pills interfere with sleep. There is well-documented evidence that drugs in this category can trigger nightmares, and this side effect alone often causes people to seek other treatments.
Some sleep supplements containing melatonin might trigger unpleasant or bizarre dreams. If that happens, take a break from the melatonin, because the dose might be too high. Remember, your body also makes melatonin, so supplementing has an additive effect.
Prescription sedative hypnotics, Z drugs and benzodiazepines also induce vivid dreaming and nightmares. These are block-buster pharmaceuticals aimed at putting you to sleep, and they suppress SWS (slow wave sleep), thereby inducing dreams.
Ironically, withdrawal from these medications can also induce dreaming and even nightmares for a period of time.
For a longer version of this article, see my website.
This information is opinion only. It is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose your condition. Consult with your doctor before using any new drug or supplement.
Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist and the author of The 24-Hour Pharmacist and Real Solutions from Head to Toe. To contact her, visit www.SuzyCohen.com.