Dreams are they really so sweet

I would appreciate some help.  This might seem like a fun question but what do dreams and nightmares really mean?  Could it mean that the sufferer has unresolved psychological issues or medical conditions or both?

Can our medication, pacemakers, health conditions cause bad dreams and nightmares?  I know beta blockers which are commonly used may increase the potential for a nightmare.  I occasionally get them with Bisoprolol and my doctors tell me that this is because beta blockers can inhibit the nighttime secretion of melatonin, our natural sleep hormone.

My husband’s dreams and nightmares are becoming a real problem for both of us.  His dreams are so vivid now that he is actually beginning to believe them.  He often asks me why I did something to him when in fact it was a part of his dream.  I am keeping diary notes of what his dreams are about so that I can try to help him understand where these thoughts are coming from.  Maybe he is unhappy with me, with his life, so many questions come to mind.  He has been extremely worried lately about Coronavirus and all the deaths and keeps getting me to take his temperature.  His medical history does include strokes/cerebral/ischaemic vascular disease so there might well be a connection.  Sometimes we both end up laughing about his dreams and what they might mean and I am reassured that he can remember them and still chooses to discuss them with me, even though I would rather not hear what he gets up to in his sleep.

Anyway if any of you want to share any stories about dreams and nightmares and what they mean and how you were able to reduce their adverse impact on your quality of sleep and activities during the day, I shall be most grateful to receive any tips.  Oh for a good night’s sleep





Probably both

by crustyg - 2020-11-22 05:37:22

Hi Gemita:

I think that there's no doubt that dreams can reflect psychological issues, and with the much greater understanding that we've achieved over the last couple of decades about the relationship between gut health (gut microbiome etc.) and the brain I have no difficulty believing that physical medical issues can turn up in dreams/nightmares.

There is already considerable anecdotal evidence linking oral broad-sprectum antibiotics to changes in sleep patterns (to which I can attest), and impact of antimicrobials on gut flora is huge.


Psychological > Medical

by amanda_shanti - 2020-11-22 06:52:11

Hi Gemita,

Maybe both, but I believe psychological issue is larger than medical. 

Use myslef as an example... I don't have nightmare often but I had one 2 nights ago. I dreamed about something quite dark and about death, which is really unususal for me. I remember that day I was worried about my recovery from pacemaker implate surgery and read many articles online about incision infection, lead dislodgement etc. So, I believe I carried all the anxiety and fear into bed. That caused me to have a nightmare.  

Thank you both

by Gemita - 2020-11-22 10:17:41

crustyg I have no doubt there is a strong gut connection going on in hubby’s case who has a long history of inflammatory bowel disease (now treated surgically).  He has had some very difficult periods on antibiotics too where his body did not tolerate them well.  I keep a list of the most offensive ones he has taken and we try to avoid them.   He has certainly been on a lot of oral broad spectrum antibiotics lately.  I do wonder whether this is an acute symptom of antibiotic treatment, combined with a severe reduction of friendly gut bacteria over a long long period of time ?

Amanda I think you maybe right too and that this does have a strong psychological link.  From the content of my husband’s dreams, psychological issues are indeed present and I fear they go back a long way and run deep.  Hubby carries scars from early childhood, scars which have not healed and I feel he might be playing these out now at this late stage in his life because he feels he can safely do so.  Thank you so much for your contribution and please sleep well without anxiety 




by Persephone - 2020-11-22 13:58:59

Hi Gemita - thank you for posting about this very important issue.  We all need to have sleep.  I believe you've stated that diabetes is present...from what I understand, significant activities related to blood sugar levels and insulin production go on while we (try to) sleep, so perhaps that is part of the puzzle.

As a 30-year partner of someone with significant sleep problems, including nightmares, I can certainly relate to your situation.  After a couple of decades, a separate sleeping arrangement became a good solution for us.  Not perfect, but it works.

To sleep, perchance to dream

by Gotrhythm - 2020-11-22 15:24:37

Dreams are an interesting topic to me and I think they really can't be separated from our physical and emotional health--and in my case, to my heart health.

In the couple of months before bradycardia was diagnosed, I dreamed, sometimes several times a night, that someone was at the door ringing the doorbell. The ringing was so loud and insistant, I would try to wake up, but I couldn't seem to move. At some point I would wake up enough to realize the doorbell wasn't really ringing--I was dreaming. Though I tried to tell myself it was nothing, go back to sleep, the doorbell kept on. At some point I would be disturbed enough to actually waken and sit up.

Awake, sitting up, I would draw great lungfuls of air, as if I was catching my breath.

A Holter monitor test showed a heart rate in the low 30's with 4-6 second pauses at night.

I think my body knew I was in trouble and manufactured a dream I had to do something about so that I would start breathing again and move enough to raise my heart rate. Without the dreams I believe I would have died in my sleep and no one would know what happened.

Gemitra, I don't doubt that medication can influence dreaming. I'm sorry your hubby is having a hard time with nightmares. Although I have no idea why, in my teens I had such frequent nightmares for a week or so that I became afraid of going to sleep. After a while it was like my whole life had become a nightmare.

I don't have any words of wisdom. Sorry. You might try altering the environment--making the room warmer or cooler, playing some music, adding a blue night light. Can't hurt.

Hope you find some answers. You need your sleep too.

Thank you both

by Gemita - 2020-11-22 17:20:07

Persephone you make some very good points and I have reluctantly been considering them but have held off so far because I am afraid of making matters worse.  Yes your comment on diabetes might, as you say, be part of the puzzle.  Is his blood glucose falling during the night I wonder and triggering these responses.  He is on insulin.  I have a monitor so I will check his levels when he wakes us both up again.

Gotrhythm oh to sleep, perchance to dream, that is really music to my ears.  I did wonder if it was appropriate to post this message this morning but I am glad I did because a problem shared is a problem halved and I feel better already.  Yes the human body is quite remarkable at protecting us.  It knows when we are in trouble.  I have tried speaking to our doctors about this problem but with COVID-19 potentially more dangerous, we are not able to get the support that we really need at the moment.  Also Michael looks so well most of the time and at 82, with multiple health conditions they seem to give the impression that his sleep difficulties can be expected which really doesn’t help.  Yes playing some music always does it for us, so I will put his favourite Italian music on to help him back to sleep.  Thank you so much for your heart warming, kind  contribution Gotrhythm.

Gestalt Technique

by Swangirl - 2020-11-22 18:19:39

As a long time Gestalt therapist with many months of training at Esalen where Fritz Perls' ghost and namesake home were everpresent, I learned his technique for understanding what our dreams are communicating.  I practiced this with many clients and participated myself in "open seat" work in years of Gestalt groups.  You may not find this an easy do-it-yourself thing but it might answer some questions.


Swangirl thank you

by Gemita - 2020-11-22 20:12:02

“You are the maker of the dream, Whatever is in the dream must be what is in you".  Fritz Peris. 

I loved the above words at the start of your attached link.  I will go back to the link because I want to learn more about the technique that is used to interpret dreams.

Hubby's accounts are so detailed and I can see a pattern emerging already which will help me to help him.  I know him best and he is really beginning to open up Swangirl which is half the battle.  If I need help I know where to find you.  



by AgentX86 - 2020-11-22 20:41:43

I've actually been thinking about this subject for a while.  My dreams have changed quite a lot over my life, in pretty neat, well defined, stages.

When I was a kid I'd have decent dreams that all of a sudden would turn very quickly into nightmares, in color.  Then, in my teens to early twenties my dreams were fairly normal. 

After I got out of college, I'd have dreams where I'd have panic attacks where I'd forgotten to go to a class all semester until the final exams.  This went on for some time.

Then I went into a phase where I could direct my own dreams.  I could wake up, for whatever reason, then go back to sleep and pick up the dream where I left off.  Strange but it had its advantages.

Until a year go, for about the last ten to fifteen years I didn't dream at all. Then, about a year ago I was put on lamotrigine.  Since, I dream constantly.  Nothing exciting or terrible, pretty much just normal everyday life sorts of things but all night. This is what's prompted me to think more about dreams and the phases of them over my life.  Perhaps the latest are drug induced but  they're pretty boring for hallucinations. 

Thank you AgentX86

by Gemita - 2020-11-22 21:32:34

Really interesting dream history!  Wish I could wake from a nice dream and pick up where I left off as I fall back to sleep.  When I dream I can never really recall the detail on awakening and I quickly forget all about the dream when I get up. 

Michael’s dreams are just so detailed.  It is really amazing, but I think he is deeply troubled and I cannot help but think that his strokes have played a role in his worsening symptoms.  But even so I will try to help him in whatever way I can.

I had nightmares as a four year old when my father died.  They were pretty vivid and horrible I recall.  A feeling of "wanting to run away but not being able to move".  Petrifying until I woke up.  Now on Bisoprolol my sleep is definitely disturbed although it is probably 50 of that and 50 of worrying about Michael.

I am glad you are able to dream AgentX86.  This must mean you are sleeping well enough.  


by Pharnowa - 2020-11-22 22:32:08

Hi Gemita,

I'm so sorry you and your husband are dealing with this. 

I believe nightmares can stem from psychological, particularly trauma, neurological, disease or medication. 

In my early career, I was a therapist in a day program for elderly. Those who suffered strokes or Parkinson's disease often had nightmares. Blood sugar lows often included nightmares as a symptom. But also those who had endured trauma, particularly around war, would seem to have memories surface from decades before.  

It's easy to see how medication could influence dreams too. I've even known people to claim certain foods or alcohol provoked nightmares. 

I haven't had many nightmares but I've had one since getting my pacemaker. I believed a big dog and a clown came onto my bed. I screamed out. It was so real. But in hindsight, the dog was very much like one I used to have. I don't know why I was afraid of him. I was definitely afraid of the clown.

If your hubby or you remain bothered be this, perhaps a consultation with a sleep disorder specialist, although I know most of us are not adding visits anywhere currently.

If it continues, you may have to sleep separately for a bit, or add a nap daytime to augment your sleep. 

Best wishes to you both!


by Gemita - 2020-11-23 01:09:14

It was good to receive your contribution.  Thank you so much.  

I have always suspected many different conditions to be the cause of my husband's sleep problems but narrowing it down has proved more difficult.  

If I am honest the connection with a stroke is the one I most fear and makes a lot of sense since although he has always had sleep hygiene problems, his sudden calling out in the night only started since his last stroke a few years ago and things are slowly getting worse.  But he has made it to 82 and I have a lot for which to be grateful.  

I am so pleased you are slowly getting answers about your pacemaker implantation difficulties and I really hope you will be helped quickly


by Pharnowa - 2020-11-23 02:09:32

Thank you for your encouragement, Gemita.

If you feel it may be stroke related, perhaps a neurologist could help. There are medications that may help also.

I can hear that you are helping him and he's so fortunate to have you. But please take care of yourself too. We need you!


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