People have always had nightmares. The word “nightmare” itself is of French origin, and it means “night ghost-strangler.” Once upon a time, everyone was sure that terrible dreams were the work of evil spirits. The Slavs blamed the brownie for this, the Germans blamed the trolls. Times and customs are changing, scientific and technological progress has allowed us to create spacecraft, artificial intelligence, the Internet and much more. However, the person himself does not change. Each of us has unfulfilled desires, unsuccessful projects, mistakes that can no longer be corrected, doubts about our abilities, fear for the well-being of our loved ones. Sometimes the anxieties that we so carefully hide from others appear in our dreams in the form of nightmares. It happens that the same dreams are repeated, leaving behind a residue of bad mood in the morning. Consider how to get rid of nightmares, forever driving away the “night ghost-strangler”?
Is there a danger?
A nightmare is a realistic vivid dream filled with images or events that evoke fear, horror, and other strong emotions. At the same time, the heart rate increases, sweating increases. A nightmare can cause an abrupt awakening. The events and images experienced during a terrible dream are remembered, constantly popping up in memory. Psychologists who specialize in the study of dream transformation argue that the assumption that realistic nightmares only come to children and adolescents is wrong. According to the results of numerous studies, about fifty percent of the adult population of the planet periodically encounter this problem. Moreover, about eight percent of them have nightmares constantly, and with the same plot.
Dreams that cause fear, make you wake up in horror in a sweat, significantly reduce the quality of a night’s rest. Sleep is an important part of life, which takes up about a third of its duration. The main purpose of sleep is to allow the body to reboot. The nervous system gets rid of loads and stresses, cells of internal organs are restored, muscles, joints and so on rest. A nightmare will not allow the body to fully recover. People suffering from such persistent disorders are in a state of chronic stress, risking mental illness.
Differences between nightmares and horrors
Sleep is a multidimensional process that has not been thoroughly studied. Experts divide it into several phases. When immersed in drowsiness, a phase of superficial sleep begins, which is replaced by a moderately deep, and then a deep phase. A deep period of night rest serves primarily for the physical recovery of the body. It is during these first few hours of sleep that a disorder called night terrors can manifest. This state, unlike nightmares, is not accompanied by any memorable narrative or vivid images. At the same time, a person experiences a terrible fright, completely not remembering the reasons that caused it. Those suffering from this disorder tend to involuntarily twitch their limbs or take a sitting position on the bed, which is why they wake up. Night terrors can also be a sign of sleepwalking.
A nightmare most often appears during REM sleep – the final phase of a night’s rest, which begins already in the morning. During the fast phase, the brain processes the information received during the day, the nervous system is restored. It is in the morning, as a rule, that a person experiences nightmares with memorable realistic images and plots. If in reality there was an accident with damage to health, then such a scenario can be repeated in terrible dreams. The most common plots are falling from a great height, attempts to get away from the chase, being late.
Causes of scary dreams
Periodically, nightmares visit every second adult. If this does not happen often, then there is no reason to worry. However, if such disorders appear on an ongoing basis, then there is a serious reason for this. Here are some of the possibilities:
- Irreparable loss. This may be the death of a loved one, a serious injury that led to a significant deterioration in health, a break in relationships, etc.
- Psychological damage. This includes resentment inflicted by loved ones, difficulties in family relationships, loss of a job, etc.
- Disturbing messages in the media. The society in which we live is characterized by an abundance of information. In pursuit of the ratings that promise advertisers money, many media compete with each other in the amount of disturbing news. The abundance of constant negativity can cause terrible dreams.
- Unhealthy Lifestyle. This item includes alcoholism, drug addiction, smoking, lack of daily routine, constant overeating, especially when it comes to spicy or fatty foods.
- Diseases: nervous system (apnea, restless leg syndrome, neuroses), psyche (manic-depressive psychosis, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorders, phobias), oncology.
- Significant emotional and physical stress. This is especially true for those who have a profession with increased responsibility (doctors, police, special services, rescuers). Also, nightmares can often visit people with a creative mindset (artists, writers, poets, etc.).
In scientific circles, there is an opinion that sometimes it is even useful to have nightmares. This statement is argued as follows: terrible dreams are produced by our brain in order to get rid of stress, that is, there is a discharge of consciousness with a subsequent reboot. Perhaps an unpleasant dream is intended to indicate a serious life problem that we do not pay attention to or deliberately ignore it. Different hypotheses have the right to exist, but if such sleep disorders become chronic, then there can be no talk of their benefits.
Nightmares in pregnant women and children
Bad dreams visit and children. This applies to both toddlers and teenagers. Such sleep disorders in young children may occur due to an incompletely formed nervous system, a low threshold of sensitivity, and physical punishment. In adolescents, this happens because of poor communication with peers, conflicts with parents.
Women during pregnancy often suffer from terrible dreams. Two factors influence their appearance: constant discomfort from a growing fetus and fear of childbirth. A common nightmare plot is a difficult birth accompanied by unbearable physical pain, especially for women with their first pregnancy. The quality of a night’s rest also has an impact on the concern about one’s appearance, which seems very unattractive to a woman.
Ways to get rid of bad dreams
Bad dreams significantly poison our lives, worsen the quality of a night’s rest, and spoil our mood for the next day. How to forget a nightmare? There are a number of simple activities that help deal with such disorders. Here are the main ones:
- A well-organized daily routine. If you train yourself to go to bed and wake up at the same time, then the body will quickly get used to it. This will definitely improve the quality of night rest.
- The average sleep rate for an adult is about eight to nine hours a day. If you do not follow it, do not constantly get enough sleep, this will contribute to the incomplete recovery of the body after daily stress.
- Rejection of bad habits. Drugs, alcohol, nicotine are among the main causative agents of nightmares. This is due to a slowdown in metabolic processes in the brain, insufficient saturation of it with oxygen.
- Decreased consumption of drinks containing caffeine. This is especially true in the evening, when you should give up coffee and tea in order to avoid excitation of the nervous system.
- Counteracting stress. We must try not to take the negativity of the surrounding reality to heart. Problems at work, no matter how serious they are, should be left at work. Going to bed, you need to try to move away from daytime worries, think about something pleasant.
- Creating comfortable conditions for sleep. The microclimate of the bedroom should be controlled. It is desirable that the air temperature be twenty or twenty-one degrees, it is often necessary to ventilate the room, do wet cleaning. You can avoid dry air by purchasing a humidifier. Bedding plays an important role, it is worth buying orthopedic samples.
- Noise resistance. People react differently to loud sounds. Someone does not interfere with the sleep of a noisy party at the neighbors behind the wall, someone hardly falls asleep, and when he falls asleep, he sees terrible dreams. To protect yourself from the hum, you can buy earplugs.
Walking in the fresh air, maintaining an active lifestyle, playing sports, taking a warm bath in the evening with calm music also have a beneficial effect on the quality of sleep. It is worth trying the method of aromatherapy, scented candles with the smell of roses or lavender will help you relax. For a dream to come, it is very useful to read a good book, put together a puzzle , solve a crossword puzzle.
One of the most important moments of the daily routine should be the rule: after seven o’clock in the evening you can not eat. The digestive system will not be able to fully process the food taken in the evening before going to bed, which means it will remain active during sleep. This may well cause a terrible dream. If it’s already late, but you want to have a snack, then without compromising the quality of sleep, you can afford the following:
- Vegetables fruits. It can be bananas, apples, oranges, carrots, cabbage. The listed satisfies hunger, is easily processed by the stomach.
- A cup of milk, mint broth. Such drinks relax, soothe.
- A little boiled poultry meat (chicken, turkey).
- Dairy products (kefir, yogurt).
Definitely it is necessary to refuse in the evening from fatty meat (beef, pork, lamb), mayonnaise, sour cream, chocolate, sweets, oatmeal, sweet soda, smoked meats, pastries, conservation.
If the sleep norm is observed, the daily routine is developed, products that are heavy for the digestive system are excluded from the menu, and nightmares are in no hurry to go away, what to do? This means that the causes of terrible dreams are more serious than we would like. Until the source of the disorder is eliminated, there will be no change for the better. It is not necessary to engage in self-diagnosis and choose medications, self-medication will only exacerbate the problem. You should contact the doctors. The causes that cause nightmares can be found by a somnologist or psychotherapist. Different circumstances influence the methods of therapy:
- possible presence of concomitant diseases;
- the frequency of repetition of terrible dreams;
- whether the plot of a nightmare was invented or taken from real events, etc.
In most cases, doctors prescribe sleeping pills to improve the quality of sleep and prolong it. Such therapy, as well as the implementation of all the doctor’s recommendations, are usually effective, nightmares no longer appear.
At the visit to the doctor, it is necessary to tell in detail about the symptoms, lifestyle, medications taken. The occurrence of nightmares can be triggered by some kind of drug. Particular attention should be paid to antidepressants and drugs that change the value of blood pressure. In some cases, changing the drug or reducing the dosage can eliminate sleep disorders.
Sometimes a psychotherapist can effectively eliminate the appearance of painful dreams. There are many different psychotherapy techniques, but in most situations, the essence is reduced to the conditional reproduction of the nightmare plot. A person suffering from such sleep deviations lists on a sheet of paper the events that occur in a vision that frightens him. The psychotherapist offers ways to replace the negative components of sleep with positive ones. As a result of the shift in emphasis, the dream script is directed in a neutral or positive direction.
Nightmares can also be caused by a lack of a hormone called melatonin in the blood. This element monitors the cyclic change of sleep and wakefulness. The older a person becomes, the less melatonin the body produces. Lack of the hormone leads to weakness, apathy, chronic fatigue, which can result in depression, which provokes frightening dreams. Hormone therapy consists in taking drugs containing artificial melatonin. As a result, the patient’s biorhythms are normalized.
The cause of the described disorders may also be increased anxiety. To get rid of it, while improving the quality of night rest, will help the recipes of traditional medicine, which our ancestors have used for centuries. Herbs, a decoction of which helps to calm the nervous system: St. John’s wort, motherwort, hawthorn, valerian roots, chamomile. To prepare a decoction, you should follow the recipe, for clarification of which you need to consult a doctor. Some plants are used to fill the room with an aroma that also has soothing properties.
Encourage good dreams
To improve the quality of sleep, avoiding nightmares, you can use your own imagination and self-hypnosis. This technique is similar to fishing. If the fisherman wants to bring home more fish, he feeds them in the pond. Fish rush to where there is a light, plentiful delicacy, so a good bite is achieved, logically turning into a solid catch. Do the same with good dreams: lure them and they will come. Here are some simple steps:
- Imagine a place where you were (or would be) pleased to be while falling asleep. It can be anything: the sea coast, a village in the mountains, a clearing in the forest. The place does not have to be real, you can invent it, even another planet will do. The main thing is that you feel calm and peaceful there. Gradually, in your imagination, fill the image with details (smells, sounds, etc.).
- Dream good. Imagine yourself as a Hollywood star, a traveler conquering unknown worlds, or imagine how you are going to rest in an exotic country. Dreaming before bed will not only improve the quality of your sleep, but may also help you plan for success in real life.
- Share experiences with loved ones. Tell them about unpleasant dreams, you don’t need to keep negativity in yourself. Talking to people you trust is bound to yield positive results.
- Try to change the nightmare. If you still had a bad dream, then try changing its plot so that the ending is not so frightening. Some get it right away, some have to work on it longer.
Even if you have a healthy sleep, then you should not neglect the described tips. A positive perception of reality, an active lifestyle, a healthy diet – will be an excellent prevention of the onset of nightmares. Be attentive to your loved ones. If one of them is plagued by nightmares, show participation, perhaps your help will make him happier.