Sick of bad dreams? Here's how you can lower your chances of having them
Having a bad dream can spoil a whole night’s worth of sleep.
Waking up in a cold sweat, trying to catch your breath as you remind yourself that dreams aren’t real, fumbling for a light switch in the dark, trying to think of something, anything else to get yourself back to sleep… it’s utterly miserable.
So if there are ways to help keep bad dreams from happening – we’re all ears.
Sleep consultant Maryanne Taylor has shared some tips with Metro.co.uk – just don’t expect them to be quick fixes that stop all nightmares in their tracks.
‘While you can’t necessarily control dreams,’ Maryanne, who established The Sleep Works in 2010, tells us, ‘there are certainly techniques you can use to try and minimise the chance of bad dreams.’
Wind down before nodding off
It’s important to try and switch your brain off as much as possible before bedtime.
‘The more active and “switched on” your brain is before going to sleep, the more likely it is that you will experience disturbing dreams,’ says Maryanne.
‘Steer clear of electronics and disturbing TV shows. Engage in relaxing and calming activities to reduce anxiety levels by doing something like taking a hot bath or shower, listening to music or audiobook, mindful colouring, and breathing exercises to slow down your breathing.’
Yes, it might be far easier said than done, but the fact remains that lowering your stress levels can improve your sleep – among many, many other things.
‘High levels of stress during the day can be a significant factor in dreams at night,’ Maryanne explains.
‘Use stress reduction techniques such as physical exercise (walking, running, and yoga release endorphins, which are natural mood-enhancing chemicals in the brain); relaxation exercises (taking a hot bath or shower, aromatherapy, music, reading, hobbies); and social support (talking to someone, spending time with family and friends).’
Create a positive sleep environment
You should put a bit of love into the place you do your sleeping, too.
‘Make sure your bedroom is conducive to calm and restful sleep – comfortable temperature, dark and quiet,’ Maryanne instructs.
‘You can add relaxing elements such as an oil diffuser or white noise machine to help create a calm environment.’
Avoid stimulants close to bedtime
We know it’s hard, but your brain and body will thank you for winding down the caffeine and/or booze consumption in the evenings.
‘Caffeine and alcohol can affect the quality of sleep,’ explains Maryanne, ‘and can trigger vivid and disturbing dreams.’
Write it down
It bears repeating that these tips aren’t going to make it so you never have a nightmare again as long as you live.
So the next time you have a bad dream, try writing it down.
‘Writing down your previous dream can help you process underlying emotions or triggers that may contribute to the dream,’ says Maryanne.
‘If the dreams continue on a regular basis, write down what you remember every morning. This can also help identify any pattern or theme which can be addressed during the day.’
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