How to get rid of nightmares in your sleep?

People have always seen nightmares. The word “nightmare” itself is of French origin, and it means “night ghost strangler.” Once upon a time, everyone was convinced that terrible dreams are the work of evil spirits. The Slavs blamed the brownie for this, the Germans – the trolls. Eras and mores 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 cannot 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 a residue of bad mood in the morning. Consider how to get rid of nightmares, forever banishing the “night ghost strangler”?

Is there a danger?

A nightmare is realistic vivid dreams filled with images or events that cause fear, horror, and other strong emotions. At the same time, the heartbeat increases, sweating increases. A nightmare can cause an abrupt awakening. The events and images experienced during a terrible dream are remembered, constantly emerging in memory. Psychologists who specialize in the study of dream transformation argue that the assumption that realistic scary dreams 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 face this problem. Moreover, about eight percent of them have nightmares all the time, and with the same plot.

Dreams that cause fear, cause you to wake up in horror in sweat, significantly reduce the quality of your night’s rest. Sleep is an important part of life, which takes about a third of its duration. The main purpose of sleep is to provide an opportunity for the body to reboot. The nervous system gets rid of stress and stress, 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 these persistent disorders are in a state of chronic stress, at risk of 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 drowsing, the 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. Sufferers of this disorder, as a rule, involuntarily twitch their limbs or occupy a sitting position in bed, which is why they wake up. Night terrors can also be a sign of sleepwalking.

The nightmare most often appears during REM sleep – the final phase of the 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, trying to escape the pursuit, being late.      

Causes of nightmares

Every second adult has nightmares from time to time. 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 possible ones:

  • An irreparable loss. This can be the death of a loved one, a serious injury that resulted in a significant deterioration in health, a break in relationships, etc.
  • Psychological damage. This includes resentment inflicted on loved ones, difficulties in family relationships, loss of a job, etc.
  • Alarming media reports. The society in which we live is characterized by an abundance of information. In pursuit of the ratings that advertisers’ money promises, many media outlets compete with each other in the amount of disturbing news. An abundance of persistent negativity can cause terrible dreams. 
  • Unhealthy Lifestyle. This item includes alcoholism, drug addiction, smoking, lack of a daily routine, constant overeating, especially when it comes to spicy or fatty foods.
  • Diseases: nervous system (apnea, restless legs syndrome, neuroses), psyche (manic-depressive psychosis, schizophrenia, obsessive states, 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 be visited by people with a creative mindset (artists, writers, poets, etc.).

In scientific circles, there is an opinion that sometimes it is even beneficial to have bad dreams. This statement is argued as follows: terrible dreams are produced by our brain in order to get rid of stress, that is, consciousness is discharged with a subsequent reboot. Perhaps an unpleasant dream is intended to indicate a serious life problem that we do not pay attention to or consciously ignore. 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

Children also have bad dreams . This applies to both toddlers and adolescents. Such sleep disorders in young children can occur due to an incompletely formed nervous system, a low threshold of sensitivity, and physical punishment. In adolescents, this happens due to 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 a fear of childbirth. A common plot of a terrible dream is a difficult birth, accompanied by unbearable physical pain, especially for women with their first pregnancy. Concern about one’s appearance, which seems very unattractive to a woman, also affects the quality of a night’s rest.

Ways to free yourself from terrible dreams

Bad dreams significantly poison our lives, worsen the quality of night rest, spoil our mood for the whole next day. How to forget a nightmare? There are a number of simple steps that can be taken to help combat these disorders. Here are the main ones:

  • Competently compiled daily routine. If you train yourself to go to bed and wake up at the same time, the body will quickly get used to it. This will definitely improve the quality of your night’s rest.
  • The average sleep rate for an adult is about eight to nine hours a day. If you do not follow it, do not get enough sleep all the time, this will contribute to the incomplete recovery of the body after daytime stress.
  • Rejection of bad habits. Drugs, alcohol, nicotine are some of the main causative agents of nightmares. This is due to a slowdown in metabolic processes in the brain, insufficient oxygen saturation.
  • Reducing the use 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 negative of the surrounding reality to heart. Problems at work, no matter how serious, should be left at work. Going to bed, you need to try to distance yourself from daytime worries, think about something pleasant.
  • Creation of comfortable conditions for sleeping. The microclimate of the bedroom should be monitored. It is desirable that the air temperature is twenty or twenty-one degrees, often it is 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.
  • Anti-noise. People react differently to loud sounds. Someone does not interfere with sleeping a noisy party with neighbors behind the wall, someone has difficulty falling asleep, and falling asleep, sees terrible dreams. To protect yourself from 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 has a beneficial effect on the quality of sleep. It is worth trying the aromatherapy method, scented candles with a rose or lavender scent will help you relax. For a dream coming, it is very useful to read a good book, put a puzzle, solve a crossword puzzle.

Diet correction

One of the most important points in the daily routine should be the rule: you can’t eat after seven o’clock in the evening. The digestive system will not be able to fully process the food taken in the evening before bedtime, which means it will remain active during sleep. This may well cause a terrible dream. If it’s too 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 above satisfies hunger, is easily processed by the stomach.
  • A cup of milk, mint broth. Such drinks are relaxing, soothing.
  • A little boiled poultry meat (chicken, turkey).
  • Fermented milk products (kefir, yogurt).

It is definitely necessary to give up in the evening fatty meat (beef, pork, lamb), mayonnaise, sour cream, chocolate, sweets, oatmeal, sweet soda, smoked meats, baked goods, canned food.

Drug therapy

If the sleep norm is respected, a daily routine has been developed, foods 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 bad 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 consult a doctor. The causes of nightmares can be found by a somnologist or psychotherapist. Different circumstances affect the methods of therapy:

  • the possible presence of concomitant diseases;
  • frequency of recurrence of terrible dreams;
  • Whether the plot of the nightmare is invented or taken from real events, etc.

In most cases, doctors prescribe sleeping pills to improve sleep quality and prolong sleep. Such therapy, as well as the implementation of all the doctor’s recommendations, is usually effective, nightmares no longer appear. 

When visiting a 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 correct sleep disorders.


Sometimes a psychotherapist can effectively eliminate the appearance of painful dreams. There are many different techniques of psychotherapy, but in most situations, the essence comes down to a conditional reproduction of the plot of a nightmare. The sufferer of such sleep deviations lists on a piece of paper the events taking place in his frightening vision. The therapist suggests ways to replace the negative components of sleep with positive ones. As a result of the shift in emphasis, the dream scenario is directed in a neutral or positive direction.

Hormone therapy

Nightmares can also be due to a lack of a hormone called melatonin in the blood. This element monitors the cyclical change of sleep and wakefulness. The older a person gets, the less melatonin is produced by the body. Lack of hormone leads to weakness, apathy, chronic fatigue, the result of this can be depression, provoking frightening dreams. Hormone therapy consists in taking medications containing artificial melatonin. As a result, the patient’s biorhythms are normalized.

Folk remedies

The cause of the described disorders can also be increased anxiety. Recipes of traditional medicine, which our ancestors have used for centuries , will help to get rid of it, while improving the quality of night rest . Herbs, a decoction of which helps to calm the nervous system: St. John’s wort, motherwort, hawthorn, valerian roots, chamomile. To prepare the broth, you should follow the recipe, for the clarification of which you need to consult a doctor. Some plants are used to fill a room with a scent that also has soothing properties. 

Encouraging good dreams

Improving the quality of sleep, avoiding nightmares, you can use your own imagination and self-hypnosis. This technique is reminiscent of fishing. If a fisherman wants to bring home more fish, he feeds it in the reservoir. The fish rushes to where there is a light, abundant delicacy, so a good bite is achieved, which logically turns into a solid catch. You have to do the same with good dreams: lure them, and they will come. Here are some simple steps:

  • Imagine, while falling asleep, a place where you were (or would be) pleasant to be. It can be anything: a seaside, a village in the mountains, a clearing in the forest. The place does not have to be real, you can make it up, 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 things. Imagine yourself as a Hollywood star, a traveler conquering unknown worlds, or imagine yourself going on vacation to an exotic country. Dreaming before bed will not only improve sleep quality, but may also help you plan for real-life success.
  • Share your experiences with loved ones. Tell them about unpleasant dreams, you do not need to keep negativity in yourself. Talking to people you trust is bound to bring 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 scary. Some people do it right away, others 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 nightmares. Be considerate of your loved ones. If one of them is harassed by nightmares, be involved, perhaps your help will make him happier. 

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