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Sleep Disorders

Excessive dreaming

10/01/2008

Question:

I am on effexor and buspirone. Could these be part of the reason for my excessive dreaming? Thanks

Answer:

The short answer to your question is: Yes. However, there is more to excessive dreaming than people think.

Excessive dreaming is the feeling that one is dreaming throughout the night, and that dreams take a very long time. This is different from vivid dreaming, where there is abundance of details that carry high emotional burden. In extremes, a vivid dream is described as a nightmare. On the other hand, most excessive dreaming is devoid of emotions. Excessive dreaming includes activities that are continuous, trivial, or physical in nature such as repetitive housework, or endless walking through snow or water. Women seem more likely to report excessive dreaming than men, in general.

Usually there is no clinical abnormality in people who have excessive or vivid dreams; also, there is no specific treatment that is indicated. Cognitive therapy, hypnosis, relaxation, and medications have shown no benefit in treating this condition. Rarely, a pathologic reason, such a brain lesion, may underlie this condition. Medications can be responsible for vivid dreams, too. When stopping certain medications, like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and tricyclic antidepressants, vivid dreams may occur. If the medication has short duration of action, vivid dreams can occur depending on the time the medication is taken (during the day or the night). It is of interest to note that Effexor is an SSRI with a really short duration of action (half life is 3-5 hours), so this medication could very well be the cause of your dream disturbance.

An evaluation by a psychiatrist or by a sleep specialist may be necessary to change the formula of Effexor to a long acting one. Otherwise, a different SSRI with a longer duration of action can be used.

Until then, some general methods that may help you with your dreams include:

Additional information regarding sleep can be obtained on the American Academy of Sleep Medicine website. This website contains a list of Sleep Centers across the country so you can find one if you need it.

I wish you blissful breams. 

For more information:

Go to the Sleep Disorders health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Ziad  Shaman, MD Ziad Shaman, MD
Assistant Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University