Nightmares are no fun. They disrupt your sleep, leave you feeling disorientated and mess with your mood the next day. Although they are described as the mind’s way of dealing with fears or releasing tension, often they end up causing more of the same. Their stressful, disturbing nature usually results in a loss of sleep, leaving you groggy and moody the next day. Thankfully, there are things you can try, habits you can implement and secret know-how’s to help stop your nightmares. The first step is to find their source.
The Causes Of Nightmares
According to a study done in 2014 by the University of Montreal, the most common theme in nightmares is physical aggression. In addition, threats, death and health also occured frequently. Interestingly, men’s nightmares were more likely to have war or natural disasters as the main theme. On the other hand, interpersonal conflicts were more prevalent in women’s dreams. The overall emotions called forth by nightmares were fear, disgust, confusion and sadness.
Dreams usually include pieces of your waking life. This can be done in either a literal or abstract way. For example, your nightmares may incorporate test taking or another problem you are experiencing into the plot of your dream. Negative aspects of your daily life such as arguments, stress or worry can also pop up in a nightmare.
Anxiety and Stress
Poor sleep is often linked to feeling stressed or anxious. These feelings can also trigger nightmares. Many different things can trigger stress and anxiety. If you want to stop your nightmares, try identify the sources. It can be something temporary like moving house or changing jobs. Alternatively, something more major, for example, losing a family member or a divorce, can be the trigger.
Frequent nightmares with recurring themes have been associated with traumatic experiences. These recurring dreams are also characteristic of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). People who experience PTSD struggle with nightmares a lot more often than others. If you are trying to stop your nightmares, a past experience may be what is standing in your way.
The exact causes of nightmares are not definitively known. There is no direct proof explaining why we experience them. However, traumatic experiences, your relationships and daytime activities all have the potential to influence them. Without further ado, here are five ways to stop your nightmares.
1. Get comfortable.
An uncomfortable bed or sleeping position may be one possible cause of your nightmares. Making sure that your mattress is in top shape is important for many other things too. From your mental and physical health, to your productivity levels, your mattress can affect it all. The more comfortable you are in your bed, the more likely it is that you will end up whiling the night away in some magical paradise. If you find your bed lacking the comforting properties it should have, you should give the Kooi B-Series Medium a look. With a comfort rating of three, it suits most people’s needs and can satisfy side, back and stomach sleepers. The right mattress may be exactly what you need to stop your nightmares.
2. Beware Your Food and Drink
The food you eat can literally feed your nightmares. So can eating too close to bedtime. In order to stop your nightmares, try to eat dinner no later than one to two hours before bed. You may also want to avoid foods that are too spicy, sugary or starchy.
A study published by the International Journal of Psychophysiology showed that the inclusion of Tabasco sauce in participant’s dinners disrupted their sleep. So, you may want to turn down the heat.
Ironically, another key to sweet dreams is to steer clear of sugar. Frontiers in Psychology published a study testing 396 students for a potential correlation between dreams and diet. After eating cookies and cake, 31% of the participants reported having troubling dreams!
Sadly, some of your favourite carbs – bread and pasta – have the same effect on your body as sugar. If you find yourself aching for some carbs, reach for a bit of rice instead. A study in Plos One found that it actually improves sleep quality!
3. De-stress and Relax Your Mind
As mentioned previously, stress can cause nightmares. So, if you want to stop your nightmares, try to get rid of your stress before even stepping into your bedroom. Doing a sporty activity two or three times a week can help with this. The high levels of physical activity will provide a way to release pent-up stress. At the same time, endorphines will be released. If you are not a fan of sports, an evening walk is a great alternative. A stroll in the crisp evening air will help clear your mind and leave you feeling refreshed. Another activity that can help you de-stress and unwind is reading a good book. Keep your reading material light and avoid anything too thrilling. A stress-free mind is a happy mind, and happy minds are much less likely to experience nightmares.
4. Smell Somthing Nice
Another surprising source of your nightmares is your nose! It makes sense when you think about it. Sleeping in a room that smells isn’t exactly the most pleasant experience. As a result, your dreams are likely to reflect that.
In 2008, German researchers presented results that support this hypothesis at the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation Annual Meeting. They conducted a study observing the effects of scents on dreams. Unpleasant smells, for example, rotten eggs, where associated with bad dreams. On the other hand, pleasant aromas, such as roses, where linked to happy dreams.
5. Talk Through The Problem
Another way to stop your nightmares is to confront them. Whatever the situation may link to in your real life, a childhood experience or recent trauma, talk it over. Talking about your nightmares to your partner, friend, or relative can help ease the anxiety associated with the event. If that does not help, consider seeing a therapist to help you come to terms with whatever may be disturbing you.
Your nights used to be stressful, chaotic and fear-filled. Now, you have the tools to make them a restful, relaxing break away from your busy life. Look your fear in the eye. From this moment forward, you are the master of your own mind.