Can Maladaptive Daydreaming Be Treated?

When abnormal amounts of daydreaming begin to have a negative influence on your life, you may be experiencing maladaptive dreaming. Maladaptive daydreaming can vary in duration and frequency. Some daydreams constantly live in their mind, while others have intense dreams multiple times a day or perhaps only once a day. Like duration, these dreams can also vary in intensity. Some people continue to work and go to school with their daydreams, while other people are so debilitated that routine daily functioning is interrupted. There is good news though, maladaptive daydreaming can be treated by lifestyle changes and mindfulness practice.

Common Features

– Short attention spans, like those associated with ADHD, can occur. This can make it difficult to become engaged in a task and difficult for one to maintain attention to their task.

– Continual low level daydreams may be present throughout the day. While not hallucinations, these dreams can seem as though they are real and interactive.

– Hyper realistic or surrealistic dream states during waking moment can lead to confusion, distraction and fear. This can be especially dangerous while driving or working.

– Physical and vocal reaction to these dreams may be a result as well. Laughing, crying, yelling or other emotional outbursts may occur. Ticks and other involuntary actions may be signs that one is in a waking dream state.

– They may be emotionally attached to the characters and events that happen in their dreams. These interactions may cause confusion and frustration in the real world, as the dreamer may not be able to separate dreams from reality.

– Music or sounds may incite these daydreams. A familiar song may create a feelings of nostalgia, and that feeling may develop into a maladaptive daydream. Though less common, other senses may cause a dream state as well.

– Sleep troubles may be a result as well. The mind may have difficulty falling asleep during regular hours. This may create a cycle of maladaptive daydreaming and unsatisfactory sleep.

Official Status

Maladaptive daydreaming in not yet defined or perfectly understood in the world of psychology. Because it does not yet have official status, many people find online communities and forums to be helpful in finding relief from their symptoms. It is beneficial for many people to speak with others who have similar symptoms. By sharing their personal treatments and lifestyle changes, people who are affected by maladaptive dreaming may be the best consultants at this time.


One of the most common causes of dream- and sleep-related problems is a lack of sleep during usual nighttime hours. Behavioral, psychological, medical and environmental influences may impact normal sleeping times. People who stay up late watching television, using their phones, reading books, worrying about the future, regretting the past and other such actions may be at risk. Psychological and medical conditions may be the root cause of sleep deprivation as well. The environment that one sleeps in could be a major influence. Loud noises, bright lights, physical interruptions and other environmental based interactions may cause sleep to be disrupted throughout the night.

During the waking hours, the modern person is influenced by a myriad of things. Our bodies and minds have not evolved to take in such excessive and useless information. Advertisements, books, shows, movies, games and other forms of media produce a world of fantasy and distraction. Maladaptive dreaming may be spawned from these influences. In many cases, people who have fearsome or frightful waking dream states may be influenced by horror, violence and unwholesome actions by their media input. Sexual-based maladaptive daydreaming may also have its roots in adult videos, intimate advertisements and passionate television shows. Feelings of violence and lust are the root cause for many of the problems that people have, and maladaptive daydreaming is no different.

Stressful work and home environments may be a cause as well. Daydreaming may be a manifestation of unsatisfactory feelings and an attempt for the mind to escape from reality. Abusive homes during childhood may result in a lifetime of stress disorders. Adults who are abused and tormented are also at risk. Imaginary friends or talking to oneself may be common indications of deeper rooted insecurities of suffering. These maladaptive daydreams may occur as drawn out scenes of violence, greed or lust. These dreams create fertile ground for additional negative thoughts. In turn, those negative thoughts result in maladaptive daydreaming.

The good news is that the cycle of negative thoughts and maladaptive daydreaming can be managed and potentially cured.

Management Tools

1. Meditation

The first and most helpful way to manage maladaptive day dreaming is to make a conscious effort to live in the moment. Daydreaming is the essence of living in the future, past or illusory states of the mind. Practicing meditation to cultivate a mental culture of mindfulness will help. Anapanna meditation is a conscious recognition of the natural breathing rhythm and can be practiced at any time. If you realize that you are in a dream state, stressed or feeling confused take a sharp, breathe deeply through your nose. Breathe purposefully in and out a few times and allow your mind to feel the way that the air moves through your nostrils and over your nose. Then, allow your natural breathing to take over, yet remain conscious of the movements of the air. Many find that sitting or walking slowly helps with this particular form of meditation.

2. Triggers

If you find that certain music or influences cause this state of mind to develop, then avoid those when you are able. Often times we can not avoid certain situations, so it is important to maintain a level of awareness. When avoidance is not possible, maintain a stable mind at all times. Do not allow your thoughts to get swept away with music and do not allow preliminary thoughts of anger to grow into scenes of violence or retribution.

3. Consumption

Intoxicating drugs may also influence these states. By reducing your dependency on drug use, maladaptive daydreaming may dissipate on its own. This may benefit your life in more than one way.

On the other hand, natural caffeine in tea and coffee may focus your mind. Drowsiness and laziness can lead to negative mental states. By using these common and natural remedies, you may support other areas of your mental, social and physical life as well. Remember that excess consumption may cause a state of restlessness and anxiety, and this state should be avoided.


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