Over the last week, I’ve been exploring the question, “Why do nightmares happen?” I started out by examining exactly why nightmares happen, but then I felt it was important to have a look at the things you can do to make a difference if someone in your family is dealing with repeated bad dreams.
I started by covering some techniques that people, regardless of age, can use to help reduce the instance of bad dreams. Then I explored some techniques geared toward children with bad dreams. Today, I want to have a look at adult nightmares. If you’ve left the childhood years behind but are still suffering from bad dreams on a regular basis, here are some things you can do to make a difference.
If you are having nightmares:
- Identify the cause. Are you having repeating dreams of a traumatic event that occurred in your life? Or can you correlate the nights you dream with particular foods or alcoholic intake? Identifying triggers – physical or emotional – can be the first step to stopping the cycle.
- Upgrade your sleep hygiene. Get to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning. Make your bedroom a clean, uncluttered “safe haven.” Take good care of yourself – in some cases, bad dreams are simply due to exhaustion or stress.
- Pursue treatment if necessary. If nothing seems to work to stop your bad dreams, consider talking to a doctor or going to a sleep lab. Sometimes, a specialist can identify an underlying sleep problem (sleep apnea, for example), that can increase the incidence of nightmares in adults.
Nightmares can be a normal part of life for busy, stressed adults. Your brain may be helping you to process your daytime worries and concerns so that you can move on with a healthy life. But if you have repeated or regular nightmares that impact the quality of your sleep, it’s time to make some changes. Take matters into your own hands, and take back your ability to get a good night’s sleep.
If you have been through a traumatic event, you might be suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. Seeking help from a medical professional can make more difference than you think. Don’t deal with PTSD alone.