Four causes of nightmares and the best treatments

There are more and more people in modern society experiencing nightmares. This is the perception of Thay Thich Truc Thai Minh, as Thay saw that more people came to Him and complained about their disturbing dreams.

Having nightmares is not a good sign. If we have good dreams, we will wake up feeling happy and refreshed. In contrast, threatening dreams will make us feel extremely tired after sleep.

Recurrent nightmares can cause us major distress and exhaustion during the day, even stress and depression, if we do not know how to stop them.

In this article, you will have an insight into the causes as well as treatments of nightmare disorder, based on the teachings of Thay Thich Truc Thai Minh.

Four causes of nightmares

Thay Thich Truc Thai Minh pointed out many causes of nightmares which can be condensed into four main points as follows.

There are many causes for nightmares.

#1. Bad sleep environment and sleep position

First, poor hygiene in your bedroom can cause sleep disturbance. This includes poor ventilation, having too many electronic devices in the bedroom or putting cell phones beside your head while sleeping.

Bad sleeping positions and postures can also affect your sleep and induce nightmares. For example, you let something heavy over your chest or sleep in a position in which your heart is pressed.

#2. Dreams as an indicator of future disease

Some dreams are relevant to our health because they can predict an illness. If you are going to have an illness, it can be foretold in your dreams. People say that dreaming about teeth falling out or bleeding is a bad dream. They may predict health problems in the future. Or someone dreams about having ear pain or being deaf, then he or she wakes up with a boil in the ear. 

Dreams that predict future diseases happen quite often among us.

#3. Dreams of due karma

We can also dream about our due karma. The working of karma can induce dreams that tell us our coming karmic retribution we are going to suffer. Some people dreamed about having an accident, after that they truly had an accident. Some others dreamed about being drowned, then it actually happened to them. There have been many true stories of this.

#4. Dreams affected by hungry ghosts (pretas), demi-gods (asuras) or gods (devas)

Beings in the realm of hungry ghosts can make you have nightmares. They are spirits who are living on your land or holding resentments towards you. Your dead relatives who are living in the realm of hungry ghosts can also cause you nightmares. They want to let you know that they are suffering a lot. There are also many stories and Buddha’s teachings about this phenomenon in the Sutras.

Gods and demi-gods can also be the reason for your nightmares. If you have a karmic connection with them, they can foretell the upcoming accident in your dreams. They warn you beforehand so that you will be able to avoid the accident.

Who are these gods or demi-gods? They can be your past relatives who did many wholesome deeds when they were living and therefore were reborn into the realm of gods after death. Because they want to help and protect you, they warn you in advance about your future accidents.

How to stop nightmares?

First, you need to examine what causes your nightmares. If your bad dreams are associated with physical illness, you must go to the doctor to have a physical exam and receive medical treatments.

However, if you still suffer from frequent nightmares, it can be concluded that your sleep disorder is a spiritual matter. Your nightmares are either indicators of future disease, omens of your karmic retribution or interaction of hungry ghosts, demi-gods, or gods.

In this case, you must practice the Dharma to stop your bad dreams.

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Practicing repentance

You need to repent and make prostrations to the Buddha regularly. You can chant repentance sutras like The Compassionate Samadhi Water Repentance, Emperor Liang Jeweled Repentance, or chanting the Buddhas’ names and making prostrations to the Buddhas.

Buddhists in daily repentance ritual at Ba Vang Pagoda.

Listening to Dharma talks

Another important part of the Dharma practice to stop nightmares is listening to Dharma talks. You must listen to Dharma talks on a regular basis. Once you understand and practise the Buddha’s teachings, your life will change for the better, including your sleep.

Listening to Dharma talks is a part of the Dharma practice to stop nightmares.

Doing meritorious deeds and transfer merit

It is extremely important that you do good deeds and make offerings to the Three Jewels, then transfer the merit to the hungry ghosts, demi-gods, or gods who are having karmic connections with you.

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Making offerings to the Buddha and the Sangha will bring you great blessings.


You can make offerings in accordance with your ability, but you should always do it wholeheartedly. You should know that there are old scores between you and the spirits that need to be settled. That is why you make offerings to the Three Jewels, then transfer the merit to them.

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If you practice sincerely, you will get rid of nightmares just after a short time.

Thay Thich Truc Thai Minh said: “I have counselled many cases of this. After a short time, they didn’t have nightmares anymore. But everyone must practice the Dharma very diligently to overcome nightmares.”

If you are having nightmare disorder, you should practice the teachings of Thay. Once you practice, you will see the transformation.

We wish all of you to have beautiful dreams and restful sleep! 

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