Each of us usually has a dream during the night, even babies. Sometimes, we have a happy dream, others, a terrible dream or nightmare. If we wake up from a good dream during the night, we will be pleased to complete it after going back to sleep. But if it is a terrible nightmare, we will be scared to sleep again even drinking a dozen cups of coffee. Occasional nightmares are nothing to worry about, while frequent nightmares will affect the length of sleep every night and the quality of sleep, having significant negative effects on physical and mental health.
What Causes Nightmares?
Nightmares are the combination of out-of-place images and scenes that rattle you awake from a deep sleep and bring out strong feelings of fear, terror, distress or anxiety. Nightmares often occur during the stage of REM sleep - the stage which vivid dreaming is most likely to take place - as the brain is more active than other stages of sleep.
In the dreams, you may undergo these sceneries and still remember them at the moment of waking up. For example, you aren’t able to run fast enough to escape from a dangerous situation, fall from a high building or cliff or witness a murder case. If some bad things happen to you in the daytime, you may have recurrent nightmares about this experience. But what’s causing your nightmares?
Sleep environment changes: Changes to our sleeping environment will trigger multiple dreams and including nightmares. As some of us may feel insecure or anxious while staying in a new or unfamiliar environment, for example moving to a new house or school. If we can’t get used to the new circumstance, we may have nightmares.
Biological clock upside down: Working in the daytime and sleeping in the evening is a normal life rule, but now many people have broken this normal life rule and may work at night. Changing the law of life forcibly will naturally increase the risk of having nightmares.
Excessive psychological stress: Nowadays, with the increasingly fierce competition in society, many of us may feel in danger. For example, being afraid of losing a job. Experiencing too much stress or anxiety is associated with a greater risk of nightmares. If we don’t have the ability to release them, we may suffer from some certain mental diseases.
Physical illness: When we are sick, our immunity will decline, and we will become fragile both physically and psychologically. During this period, we are vulnerable to adverse external stimulation, thus giving rise to nightmares. And nightmares usually happen along with some medical conditions, such as heart disease or cancer.
Negative moods: In the evening, we may bring the depression of the day into our sleeping time. Once the unpleasantness goes into our sleep, it will affect the quality of sleep and finally, the evil nightmares emerge.
Bad living habits: Some of us like having a late-night snack which isn’t good for our health and well-being. Others may not have supper, eat too much, do vigorous exercise or have irregular work and rest routine, all these bad habits will affect your sleep, even resulting in nightmares.
How to Kick Nightmares from Your Sleep?
Whichever the cause behind nightmares may be, we always have the idea to kick them out of the land of Nod. Here are several methods you can take to prevent them or minimize the frequency and effect of nightmares on your life.
Boost your sleeping habits:
1. Remember to put down your work and worries when you go to bed at night.
2. Keep a regular bedtime and wake time throughout the week.
3. Go to bed before ten o’clock, on time, every night.
4. Change your sleeping position, like sleeping on the side which contributes to smooth breathing and heart activity.
1. Release your pressure, tiredness and relax your mind by doing spa treatments, listening to soothing music or natural sounds.
2. Try not to watch the horror movies or stories, tv shows that could wind you up before bed.
3. Make friends with lively and cheerful people instead of those full of negative energy.
4. Take part in more activities and sports along with your friends or family members.
5. Recall the nightmare and write out a positive version, or talk about or discuss your nightmares with someone you trust and who could help you in feeling better.
Healthy diet and regular exercise:
1. Engage in regular exercises like yoga and meditation which help alleviate anxiety and stress.
2. Develop a light diet which is conducive to lower your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar.
3. Have a banana or drink a cup of warm skim milk before going to bed.
4. Cut down your intake of caffeine and alcohol after 2 p.m. every day.
Improve your bedroom:
1. Choose the memory foam mattress and pillow with appropriate height and softness for your bed.
2. Transform your bedroom into a tranquil place with mild colors to calm yourself down.
3. Keep your bedroom fresh with flowers like lilac and fruits, like apples, instead of perfume.