Recurring nightmares can not only be annoying, but they can be terrifying. For those of you who have the same nightmare over and over again, here’s how to stop it!
When you’re having a nightmare, your brain doesn’t really consider logic, or memory. It mainly just focuses on what you’re scared of, and then the specifics like the fact you can’t seem to outrun the ‘nightmare’ or the terrifying dog or whatever it is.
About 6% of the worlds population suffers from regular nightmares, and that’s quite a high number. It’s something which would be a lot lower if the whole world practiced lucid dreaming, but that’s another matter. It’s a serious concern because recurring nightmares can cause serious problems like anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts.
What causes recurring nightmares?
It can be a number of things. Sometimes it’s as simple as just leaving your current job because your boss is making you chronically stressed. You could alternatively learn to DEAL with the stress in a more productive way, it’s all in your mind after all.
Here are some of the most common causes of recurring nightmares –
- Withdrawal symptoms from medication or illegal drugs
- Big life changes
- Big past problems or trauma
- Emotional scarring
- Deep seated regret or guilt
- ‘Day residue’ from watching too many horror films
- Sleep deprivation
There are a number of reasons. It’s impossible to explain EXACTLY how each of these things causes nightmares, but there likely to be the main causes in the majority of people. So what can you do?
Well, aside from just reading that list and trying to work out if any of them apply to you (in which case, try and limit or ‘fix’ those problems) you can do a few things..
How to stop recurring nightmares
Here are 7 powerful techniques for stopping recurring nightmares from happening.
1: Imagery rehearsal treatment
Imagery rehearsal treatment is going to involve THINKING about your nightmares. This technique is used to treat nightmares in more serious cases, but even if you’re only having mild nightmares, it can work. To start, think about a recent nightmare. Try to think of one that’s not TOO upsetting, and won’t cause you any stress or harm to imagine.
Close your eyes, and vividly imagine what happened. I know this might be hard, specially if it’s not a nice nightmare, (none of them are) but try it just for the sake of this technique. Now, open your eyes, and write a short description of the nightmare. Write down what parts upset you the most and what parts you didn’t mind.
Now, close your eyes again, but this time change the parts that upset you. So imagine the nightmare starting exactly as it did before, but when it gets to the upsetting or scary part in your head, change it. Imagine something else. I’m not going to tell you WHAT to change, as it’s down to you because only you know which is the scariest part and what needs to change.
Now whenever you think of that nightmare, (and all future nightmares, if you have them) do the same thing. Imagine the nightmare, and then change the scary bits.
Another thing you can do, is you can try to understand WHY you’re having the nightmare, in terms of what it’s trying to tell you. What imagery might your mind be using to get a message across to you? Does your partner always cheat on you in your dreams? Maybe this is your mind telling you that you have trust problems or that you’re noticing small changes in your partner you may want to investigate.
Your mind uses imagery and metaphors all the time in your dreams to categorize and understand your waking life and to give you messages that you can learn to pick up on.
2: Learning to Lucid Dream
Learning to lucid dream allows you to turn any potential nightmare into a dream YOU control. If you’re cultivating a mindset whereby you’re almost always ‘aware’ of yourself, in waking life and dreaming life then you’re unlikely to lose control and have a nightmare.
3: Improving all aspects of your life
If you are having a happy, stress-free and awesome life, you’re unlikely to have nightmares. So work on making sure you’re not focusing on negative thoughts, and instead you’re making yourself happy by doing the things you love doing.
4: Getting at least 7 hours sleep
Not getting enough sleep is a huge factor in recurring nightmares. People all over the world find that the WORSE their sleep is, and the less they get, the more recurring nightmares they experience. We all need to get enough sleep, and it needs to be high quality as well. Check out this sleep soundtrack store for ways of falling asleep better.
5: Write your dreams down
If you just write your dreams down in a little notebook every morning, after a week or two you’ll notice that at the least, your VIVIDNESS and the intensity of your nightmares is halved. By writing your dreams down, you are doing a very powerful thing: Analyzing the nightmare.
This lets you look back and put the puzzle together. Try and work out WHAT might be causing the nightmares. Are they always about your partner? Maybe you should talk to them and work out if there’s an underlying problem. Always about your job? Maybe it’s time for a career change.
6: Change the storyline
Practice imagining the nightmare every night but with a different, happy ending. This lets you almost program your mind to change the nightmare. It won’t happen all the time but often, when you visualize it right before going to bed, you’ll have that experience in the dream/nightmare.
Picture the nightmare playing out, but then imagine it changing and ending in a way that you’re happy with. Maybe the person chasing you stops chasing you and you both sit down and talk, or he runs the other direction and you’re left to do what you want.
7: Meditate every day
Meditation is a very effective way of having better dreams and stopping recurring nightmares. It relaxes your mind, and makes sleeping much easier. A great way of getting started with meditation is by following a simple guided meditation for dreams while listening to a binaural beat soundtrack.
Tips and useful tools
Nightmares can be REALLY annoying. The causes of them however, are varied, and no ONE cause is the same for everyone. Here are some helpful things to stop recurring nightmares for good:
- If you struggle to get to sleep properly, and find yourself always tired in the morning, go through the sleep optimization course, it works FAST
- If you suffer with insomnia, there’s a very simple natural cure for it! You’re welcome
- Listening to binaural beats such as these can make it much easier to fall asleep at night, and your sleep will be more restful
- Nightmares are all in your mind. Be patient and remember that you CAN stop nightmares!
- Write your dreams down, and after a couple of weeks you’ll notice a HUGE drop in the intensity of the nightmares, at the very least