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Can You Cry In Your Sleep? Common Causes And Solutions

Can You Cry In Your Sleep? Common Causes And Solutions

Have you ever woken up at night to find yourself bawling your eyes out? Well, you are not the only one. But why does it happen? Is there anything wrong with you that makes you cry in your sleep?

Crying during sleep is a prevalent matter for persons of all ages. Its causes include mental health issues, emotional dreams, and grief. While it is common to cry in your sleep, constant events call for professional intervention.

As you grow older, the less glorified crying becomes. You get more puzzled when you realize that all this is happening in your sleep. Today, we are looking at things that make people cry in their sleep and their solutions.

bad sleep tired woman

Common Causes Of Crying In Your Sleep

Below are the common causes of crying in one's sleep;

Emotive Dreams

Dreams which evoke strong emotions may cause you to shed real tears in your sleep. It is because such dreams trigger your emotions in your sleep. Since these emotions are too strong to ignore, you cry the same way you would if you were awake.

An example of an emotional dream is one where you are dreaming about losing a loved one. Another example is falling from a tree and injuring your neck and arm. These instances and the pain they cause seem so real in your dream that you end up sobbing.

Some people may remember their dreams upon waking up. In contrast, some are clueless about what transpired in their sleep. The latter is prone to waking up confused and worried.

While it is normal for one to cry in their sleep due to emotive dreams, frequent occurrences require intervention. Feel free to seek professional counseling if these dreams revolve around your real-life issues.

Night Terrors

Also known as sleep terrors, night terrors are traumatic experiences in your sleep, often forgotten once you wake up. Unlike dreams, these may be accompanied by sleepwalking, sleep-talking, screaming, sleep paralysis, or weird movements in bed.

Night terrors are more prevalent with children than they are with adults. The older you grow, the less prevalent these instances become. However, their degree of terror is similar to all age groups.

According to Mayo Clinic, about 40 percent of children experience night terrors. It lasts between a few seconds and minutes, with rare instances of it going beyond 10 minutes.

Night terrors count as parasomnia since they occur in Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. It can be genetic. Also, worrying experiences during the day can result in sleep terrors.

Mental Health Issues

Mental illnesses such as depression, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and anxiety may cause one to cry in their sleep. They disrupt your peace, leading to sadness in your sleep. In return, this causes bouts of crying.

When depressed, you could encounter difficulty in having a peaceful night's sleep. When the sadness deepens, it becomes an endless loop since sleep and your state of depression become knotted. By failing to sleep well due to depression, insomnia worsens your depression.

The constant feeling of hopelessness, vulnerability, and lack of drive may elicit an emotional reaction in your brain. This response may cause you to cry in your sleep.

As for anxiety and PTSD, these reactions manifest in your body during sleep. They may manifest in body shaking, increased heart rate, and difficulty during breathing. The restlessness triggers crying in your sleep.

Grief, Stress, And Suppressed Emotions

Dealing with loss is a tough encounter as grief hits harder at night. You tend to feel lonely, exhausted, and vulnerable. Also, there are barely any distractions at night to keep you busy.

In most cases, stress is personal. One may have shame in talking about it to others. In addition, one may feel as though they are disturbing them by offloading stress onto them.

While crying is a natural human activity, some people dislike portraying such emotions. Since we have most human interactions during the day, such people can only be vulnerable during sleep.

When sad thoughts trickle in during your sleep, they may cause you to cry. Your mind finds trouble holding back such stress, hence why they unravel during your sleep at night. The degree of crying varies from person to person, with some wailing while others sob.

Drugs And Medications

Certain medications may lead to odd reactions in your body and brain. For instance, medicines like statins, beta-blockers, as well as nicotine replacement therapies may lead to parasomnia. These could result in you crying during sleep.

If you are using medication that causes you to cry during sleep, talk to your doctor to ascertain the issue.

Solutions To Crying In Your Sleep

The following can reduce or stop instances where you cry in your sleep;

Address Your Cause Of Stress

If your crying during sleep is caused by stress, you should find healthy ways to address it. For instance, if you are stressed over a recent breakup or job loss, find ways to better your situation.

You could resort to starting to look for another job if you cannot stop thinking about the breakup, fancy talking to someone close to you about it. You can even talk to a counselor to help you address and deal with your stressors.

When you stop having an escapist mindset about your stress and anguish, you address these in the active form. This way, when you go to sleep, it reduces the chances of them coming to haunt you at night.

Sleep More

Sleeping more helps in putting your brain at peace. Sleep accustoms your brain to relaxation, rest, and relief rather than escapism.

You do not need to wait for nighttime to sleep. While sleeping during the day may help, it could lead to insomnia. Therefore, we encourage going to bed earlier.

Since you need an enabling environment to have a quality sleep, tweak your space to encourage quality sleep. For instance, if you have nightmares in your sleep, remove items in your room that may trigger self-harm. If you cry in your sleep due to difficulty in breathing, ensure that there is proper aeration in your bedroom.

Talk To A Professional

If you are dealing with serious causes such as depression or grief, you should seek professional intervention. Speaking to your family members or friends may assist in getting it off your chest. However, they may not have the expertise and resources to help you achieve a healthy and permanent solution.

A grief and loss therapist, for instance, can talk you through the incident and how to best deal with it. Seeking professional intervention helps you separate yourself from the grief and view it from different angles.

If you are dealing with clinical anxiety or depression, a mental health specialist will help you handle it better. Once you seek professional help in this manner, you may achieve a reduction in episodes of crying during sleep.

sad man sleep pijama

Check The Side Effects Of Your Medication

Sometimes, doctors may prescribe you medication for specific illnesses or conditions. While they may do this in good faith, some may fail to disclose to you the side effects of these drugs.

To be safe, inquire about the side effects of drugs prescribed to you. If you start using these drugs and they cause you to cry during your sleep, tell your doctor about it. They may change your medication where you end up with one that does not cause you to cry during sleep.


While it is normal for people to cry in their sleep, certain levels need intervention. Addressing the cause of stress which causes you to cry in your sleep, can be a good starting point. All in all, avoid demonizing crying during sleep since it can happen to anyone.