We’ve all had nightmares before. We often have the majority of our nightmares as children and then grow out of them as we grow up. While some bad dreams are easy to get over and soothe yourself back to sleep, nightmares and night terrors are a whole other experience entirely. Today we are going to share our top tips for kids and adults trying to put their nightmares to rest.
Keep a Dream Journal:
We suggest having a journal by your bed where you can write your dreams down when you have them. Try and write down your good dreams as well as the frightening ones. This way you say in the habit of keeping your dream journal going. You can also keep track of other details like your eating habits, nightly routine, work life, stress levels, and other aspects of life that may be contributing to your nightmares.
This can help you keep track of different things that may be contributing to your nightmares. It can also be a good practice for getting the dream off of your mind so you can get back to sleep.
Avoid Certain Foods:
The types of food you eat in the evenings may sound completely unrelated to having a nightmare, however indigestion and upset stomach are common causes for nightmares. If highly acidic foods, fatty foods, food high in sugar, dairy, etc cause you to have heartburn or indigestion then we highly suggest avoiding them before you go to sleep.
We also suggest in your dream journal, that you write down what you had to eat the day before. This is a great way to help you determine if there are any specific foods that may be correlated with your bad dreams.
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Manage Stress & Anxiety:
Stress and anxiety can greatly increase the likelihood of having a nightmare. Even if you or your child is typically relaxed and stress free, a particularly stressful or anxiety driven day can lead to nightmares.
Having ways to manage and deal with stress and anxiety whenever they come around is an important skill to have in order to avoid nightmares.
Meditation, yoga, and calming baths can all help to relax the body and mind in preparation for sleep.
Learn more about getting to sleep while dealing with anxiety in our post: How To Sleep Better With Anxiety
If you have not already heard of the term lucid dreaming, a lucid dream is when you are aware of the fact that you are currently in a dream.
People who attempt to practice lucid dreaming also report that as soon as they recognize they are in a dream, they are able to control what is happening in the dream. This is a very powerful tool that can be used for anyone with chronic nightmares.
Becoming aware that you are in a nightmare will help you to feel calm knowing that what is currently happening is in fact not real and will come to an end by waking up. While those who practice having lucid dreams can change a bad dream entirely.
Learn more about lucid dreaming in our post: A Guide To Lucid Dreaming
Cut Out Caffeine, Alcohol, and Cigarettes:
This section is obviously focusing on the adults. Alcohol is a common cause of nightmares, night sweats and more. The trouble with alcohol is that it actually disrupts your natural sleep pattern and keeps you from getting the proper rest you need. Alcohol also messes with your bodies ability to thermoregulate which can lead to night sweats and shivers. This typically only happens if you drink to excess, however we suggest avoiding single nightcaps as well if nightmares are a problem for you.
Caffeine and nicotine are both stimulants. This can make it harder for you to fall asleep in general. While if you do fall asleep while nicotine or caffeine are active in your system they can cause your busy mind to dream up nightmares. Stimulants like nicotine and alcohol can also increase anxiety in the body which can cause nightmares. Overall, best rule of thumb is to avoid all of these, especially in the evenings, if you are struggling with nightmares.
No Scary Movies or Books:
Of course this is especially true for kids, but this is for you too adults! Thriller and horror movies can cause nightmares for months. While it might seem fun at the time, it can truly interrupt your sleep for quite some time. Even stressful high drama shows can add unneeded stress and anxiety into your body that can lead to nightmares or just bad dreams that interrupt sleep.
Keep track of the movies that give your kids nightmares, there are many movies made for children that can lead to nightmares. Even a scene that might not seem all together frightening to you may be overwhelming and scary to your kid.
Does your child love playing video games? Make sure they are properly rated for your child’s age and not frightening. There are a lot of games out there than could cause bad dreams.
Horror and mystery novels can cause many nightmares for adults as well. If you absolutely love these books but they are causing nightmares or making it difficult to sleep, try reading them in the morning or early afternoon instead of before you go to sleep at night. This can help give you a buffer of good vibes and lowering stress before heading off to sleep.
Is reading really a good activity to do before bed? Find out in our post: Should You Be Reading Before Bed?
Use A Weighted Blanket:
Weighted blankets are amazing tools for relaxation and lowering stress and anxiety. This is very helpful when trying to avoid nightmares. A weighted blanket can also be a helpful tool to use in order to help yourself fall back asleep after you have a nightmare.
Weighted blankets use deep pressure therapy to release feel good relaxation hormones to your mind. It is essentially like getting a great big hug. This is a great way to calm yourself down and get some sleep.
Learn more about how weighted blankets can help you sleep in our post: Weighted Blanket Benefits
Limit Screen Time Before Bed:
If you think this limitation is only for kids, you are very wrong. This suggestion goes for children and adults alike.
Screens are extremely stimulating to our brains and can even delay natural melatonin production as well as throw off your bodies circadian rhythm. Which is why we suggest turning off all screens (TV, computers, tablets, smart phones, video games, etc.) at least an hour before getting ready to go to bed.
This will allow your mind to come down off of the high of highly stimulating screens. When it comes to blue light blocking glasses, they can be helpful. However, turning off screens entirely is definitely preferred.
Listen to a Calming Podcast or Audiobook:
If you like to have a little activity before bed, we suggest keeping it relaxed and avoiding screens like TV, tablets, or smart phones. However, if you still want something to entertain yourself as you fall asleep an audio book or podcast is a great option.
Again, be mindful of what kind of content you’re ingesting before you sleep. (Avoid true crime, mystery, horror, and anything else that may cause stress of anxiety.)
There are loads of podcasts out there specifically designed to help you fall asleep, click the link below to view some of our top favorites.
Click Link To View Our Post: Top Podcasts For Sleep
Rewrite Your Dreams:
After you have a nightmare practice rewriting the dream. After writing out your dream in your dream journal, rewrite the ending and turn it into a good story. This can help redirect paths in your mind to work toward a happy ending, leading to better ending dreams in the future.
Rewriting your dream can also be a helpful tool when you are trying to get back to sleep or simply calm yourself down after you have experienced a nightmare.
Trying to get back to sleep? Read our post: How To Go Back To Sleep After a Nightmare
Seek Professional Help:
Nightmares can be triggered by trauma, chronic anxiety, PTSD, and/or depression among many other things. Talking to a therapist can be a great way to get professional help with dealing with these things.
Professional licensed therapists can help you find ways to treat the root of where your nightmares are coming from instead of treating triggers or symptoms. Which is why if you think your nightmares may be a sign of something deeper that you need help with, seeking professional help may be the next step.
Taking your kids to talk to a therapist can be helpful for them as well. A licensed therapist can also help you as a parents determine the best way to calm your child and help them to avoid nightmares as well.
Looking for someone who can help you get some sleep? Learn about what sleep coaches do in our post: What Is A Sleep Coach?
Putting Nightmares To Rest – Final Thoughts:
Nightmares and bed dreams can be caused by a great number of different things. Which is why learning to avoid having nightmares can take some trial and error. Which is why we suggest a dream journal first.
This can help you better determine what is helping your nightmares to go away, as well as what might be triggering them. Many of our nightmare tips and tricks will work for children just as well as they do for adults. We hope this post helps you start sleeping well and having sweet dreams.