As an adult, are you supposed to have outgrown nightmares?
If nightmares are causing you significant distress, or are interrupting your sleep on a regular basis, it's important to determine what's causing your nightmares.
If you are suffering from adult nightmares, you might believe you're the only adult who has them. Although it is true, that nightmares are more common with children, one in two adults also has occasional nightmares. In fact, 2% to 8% of the adult population is afflicted by nightmares.
By finding their cause you can make appropriate changes to reduce their occurrence.
What Are Nightmares?
Nightmares are intensely realistic. They are disturbing dreams that jolt you awake from a deep sleep. They can set your heart pounding from fear.
And although most nightmares tend to occur most during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, when most dreaming takes place, they can occur at any time.
What to do about nightmares?
Here are a few things you could do if you have nightmares that cause you anxiety and panic…
Check your Sleep Routine
Uncomfortable beds, sleeping positions or the content you read or watch before sleeping can sometimes contribute to creating nightmares.
It’s important that you have a good sleep routine, and your bedroom has the right conditions for good sleep.
Download my tips for better sleep here.
You are what you consume
Eating dinner close to bedtime can literally feed your nightmares, so try not do it. Cheese at night is known as a snack that can cause problems.
But it’s not just what you eat and drink… While, you should avoid high-energy drinks, soft drinks, alcohol, coffee or tea, in the evenings, it’s mostly what you consume during the day which determines how you rest at night.
If you are sensitive, even such things as watching the news or a conversation or day filled with conflict may turn up in your sleep as a nightmare – after all, when you haven’t resolved an event consciously, your unconscious mind will try and bring this to your attention from a place beyond your conscious mind. Sometimes it tries to suggest a solution – in symbolic form. Pay attention to its messages.
Some medications are known to contribute to nightmare frequency. Drugs that act on chemicals in the brain, such as antidepressants and narcotics, are often associated with nightmares. Non-psychological medications, including some blood pressure medications, can also cause nightmares in adults.
Put your mind at ease
Leave stresses, digital gadgets, TV’s, work etc. outside the bedroom. The bedroom is only for sleeping (and love making). Adhere to a sleep routine as described in my tips for better sleep.
Physical activity two or three times a week will help to release tensions that you could be taking home. If you’re not an active type, take walks outside in the evenings to help clear your mind and move your body.
Make time during the day to process any conflicts, stresses, fears or tensions – do not leave them unattended, as stress is cumulative and builds up over time.
Reading a good book at night time can be something to help you unwind and de-stress, but stay away from horror stories, thrillers and anything else that will stimulate your imagination.
Talk about the problem
The best way to avoid nightmares is to confront them. Whether it’s a work related issue, a memory that leads back to your childhood, or a generic fear - talking about your nightmares with an understanding friend, partner or relative could help to reduce anxiety and resolve what’s disturbing your sleep pattern.
If you don’t make progress on your own; do seek help from a professional. Sometimes nightmares have deeper roots, such as trauma, that can be uncovered through working with Hypnotherapy or another professional.