Our fears of monsters under the bed are a trademark of our childhood. However, some monsters could follow us into adulthood and loom over our heads in the form of adult nightmares. Thus the need to conquer nightmares.
Lost in the wilderness alone? Being chased by a witch? Most of us could recount at least one such dream for its vividness. The aftermath is a lingering discomfort.
You are fortunate if you have not experienced such events in your nightmares in reality. There is a possibility that you have woken up in a cold sweat with your heart palpitating rapidly, reported Psychology Today.
What are Nightmares?
"Nightmares are unsettling dreams usually associated with feelings of anxiety or fear that awakens you from sleep and sometimes include abnormal movements, behaviors, emotions, or perceptions. They can occur while you're asleep, falling asleep, or even waking up," according to Raj Dasgupta, M.D., sleep expert and assistant professor of clinical medicine at Keck School of Medicine of USC, reported Good Housekeeping.
Haunting nightmares could adversely affect an individual's sleep quality and duration. Is it possible to turn off a nightmare while it is transpiring?
Percentage of Adults Reporting Having Occasional Nightmares
Children commonly have nightmares. For adults, the statistics are between 50% and 85% of adults who experience occasional nightmares.
Effects on Adults and Children
But for both, bad dreams can be disturbing and can play on our innermost fears that make it difficult to conquer nightmares. Bad dreams could also make it harder to get back to sleep and provoke bedtime anxiety.
It is an area of psychology and neuroscience that is difficult to study since each of us endures through unique nightmares that are inherently subjective and hard to accurately document.
There are measures you could do to diminish nightmares and sustain a good relationship with sleep:
1. Do Not Avoid Sleep and Follow a Regular Sleep-Wake Schedule
If you regularly have nightmares, you may have a fear of going to sleep. But depriving yourself of sleep could cause a boomerang and provoke more nightmares.
Alleviating sleep leads to less rapid eye movement (REM) sleep or the stage of sleep wherein most dreaming happens. When the brain is deprived of REM, it retaliates by bringing REM back in the night or the next night. A REM rebound effect transpires when the brain gets into REM faster, stays there longer, and develops more intense dreams. The same happens when you have an irregular sleep schedule.
2. Find Your Zen
Stress could be a trigger of bad dreams. Therefore, find activities that are calming and inculcate them in your daily routine.
Such activities include meditation, yoga, a hot bath before bed, walking or other exercises, or scheduling a few minutes of quiet me-time.
3. Turning to Medication
Numerous medicines and therapies are available for nightmare disorder and they are also used to treat related disorders.
Prazosin is recommended for people with nightmare disorder. It is also recommended for the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)-linked nightmares. For therapy, one could resort to Image Rehearsal Therapy (IRT) to conquer nightmares.