National Sleep Foundation

Chapter 6: Parasomnias

Etiology and Risk Factors for Nightmares

Nightmare disorder can be precipitated by both medical (such as Parkinson’s Disease, migraines, or nocturnal partial complex seizures) and psychiatric disorders (such as depression and anxiety). Nightmare disorder can also be caused by several medications, including anti-hypertensives, antidepressants, and antihistamines1.

Recurrent nightmares are the most common symptom of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Sleep-related hallucinations may be associated with narcolepsy.


  1. Pagel JF, Helfter P. Drug induced nightmares-an etiology based review. Human Psychopharmacology. 2003;18:59-67.