How To Kill A Nightmare – Top 5 Tips To Avoid Bad Dreams

Sleep is a beautiful thing for a lot of people. No matter what a person does, he or she will always succumb to the bed even if they don’t want to sleep. Resting is a phase in everyone’s daily routine which allows the body to recover and regain energy the next day.

Before the discovery of REM or Rapid Eye Movement Sleep, there were three states of consciousness. These stages are wakefulness, REM Sleep, and NREM or Non-REM sleep. Dreams and nightmares occur in both REM and NREM stages.

When people fall asleep, the body becomes relaxed and automatically starts repairing any damage done by a person’s work throughout the day. For a more in-depth look at how sleep helps people, one must understand the three stages of sleep. Here are the three tiers of NREM sleep where nightmares usually occur.

3 Stages of NREM

N1 – The first step is wherein the body begins feeling drowsy. This stage is where the transition of awake and asleep happens. Signals from the brain start to slow down, while muscle activity is still strong but begins to weaken. Most people experience muscle jerking and that familiar feeling of falling.

N2 – In this stage, eye movements begin to stop. N2 is essentially a period of light sleep. Other physiological changes in the body include the slowing of the heart rate. Body temperatures also begin to drop.

N3 – The 3rd step is also known as SWS or slow wave sleep. SWS usually presents slow brain waves often called delta waves. A lot of physical changes happen in this phase. Core body temperature and blood pressure drop even more. The body becomes immobile, enabling the body to sleep much better. Rapid eye movement also begins to fade away in this stage.

Another significant event also happens at this stage as most people experience nightmares when being inside this phase. People in N3 are difficult to awaken and become groggy once they do manage to get up.

In exceptional cases, children in particular experience bedwetting, sleepwalking, sleeptalking, and, nightmares. People of varying ages also experience such symptoms during the N3 period. Special precautions have to be taken into consideration to ensure the safety of those who have such conditions.

Nightmares

Dreams and night terrors are full of mystery and fright. There is no substantial evidence as to why people experience them, a lot of experts are suggesting that stress is a great contributing factor. Individuals who experience nightmares tell weird tales of terror and fright.

The most common night terrors that people experience are falling, chasing or chased by someone or something, snakes, missing teeth, or being isolated.

Although psychologists believe that each of these dreams has their explanation, people often face a lot of uncertainty due to urban legends and myth regarding their dreams.

skull on a book like from a movie representing something dreadful

For the same reason, nightmares cause a lot of stress to people. This fear ends up affecting individuals in their daily activities. Some of these night terrors are so debilitating that a person can wholly change his or herself because of such a bad experience.

A lot of people are finding ways on how to prevent nightmares from occurring during their sleep. Such nightmares are so terrible that it ends up waking people suddenly. This sudden activity can cause hypotension and can make a person feel woozy right after waking up.

Here are some common ways on how can people avoid getting nightmares during a comfortable sleep.

White noise

Our brain usually incorporates everyday stimuli into our dreams and nightmares. In theory, if a loud horn causes fright and fear in some people, then those individuals are most likely going to experience night terrors when they sleep on their beds.

makins-sense-of-dreams

The same goes for positive stimuli. White noise, for example, can bring pleasant memories to a person. Examples of white noises are the ocean breeze, raindrops, and crickets chirping in the night.

These white noises can evoke a peaceful state of mind conducive to sleeping.

Don’t watch read or watch something scary before sleeping

A lot of people have a habit of watching scary movies right before going to bed. This behavior causes a lot of individuals to experience nightmares during their sleep. Some people are so unaware of this that’s why they do it again, not realizing that their habits are the one causing the nightmares.

There’s a saying that the greatest enemy a person has to face is his or herself. The brain tends to exaggerate a lot of what a person sees. This exaggeration continues even if the individual is asleep.

For people who have to watch a horror movie or read something scary right before sleeping, imagine a serene and calm environment before closing your eyes.

By doing this, an individual can at least stop their brain from totally believing something frightening.

scary pumpkins

Making sense of your dream

Whether it's a snake or a monster chasing someone, a person should at least try to make sense of his or her dream. This activity is comparable to that of a self-assessment which is helpful for a person to understand their stress.

Knowing something about a dream or nightmare can significantly help a person identify any “real-life” stressors that they can easily modify to prevent restless night.

Medications

medications

Sometimes a person can overlook the medications he or she takes. Drugs and other substances can have psychedelic effects on a person which can significantly influence his or her dreams at night.

Talk to a doctor if you’re beginning to experience weird dreams every night. An adjustment in dosage or a new drug can make all the difference.

Seeking Professional help

As mentioned above, a nightmare can significantly affect a person once it gets out of hand. The effects can be so debilitating that straightforward and everyday tasks such as making a cup or coffee or by just standing up can otherwise become impossible tasks.

In rare cases, it affects people with PTSD-like symptoms. Most individuals who suffer from nightmares suffer from visual and auditory hallucinations. A lot of individuals should not take this problem lightly and they should begin self-medicating or self-diagnosing.

A lot of times, self-medication and diagnosing brings more harm than good. In such cases, it is advisable to get immediate professional help from licensed doctors and therapists. These people have a lot of treatment plans for specific problems to ensure a slow and sure recovery.

white doctors outfit with stethoscope

Takeaway

It’s normal for people to experience nightmares once in awhile. What’s not normal is when night terrors are reoccurring with the same themes and in increasing strength. If a person allows his or her nightmare to get the best of themselves, psychological problems begin to manifest itself.

Auditory and visual hallucinations start to be more terrifyingly real due to the lack of sleep that these unpleasant nightmares bring to a person. As such, a person should do everything they can to be free of such a horrible condition.

Author: Alyssa Prout

Alyssa Prout is a writer and a blogger. By profession, she is an experienced interior designer. Alyssa often gives out advice when it comes to decorating and designing private bedrooms. In her free time, she likes spending most of it with her family and her pet cat named Sydney.

12 Comments
  1. Reply
    Sarah Cummings February 8, 2018 at 9:04 am

    You are most likely stressed out. I’d recommend visiting a doctor for further examination.

  2. Reply
    Ella February 8, 2018 at 1:48 pm

    I have another recommendation. I have terrible, terrible nightmares because of my trauma. My nightmares torture me every night, and make me paranoid every morning. They used to control my life. I have gotten sleep studies, therapy, and taken tons of medication (ex.melatonin); alas, nothing seemed to help. Eventually, I had enough. I had to move on with life. From years of practice, I have learned how to control my dreams; to improve them and defend myself from paranoia. To kill a nightmare, you have to become self aware in it. Remember, you are not a third person viewer in your nightmare, it is YOUR nightmare. You CAN control it. Here are my three tips: If something is about to attack you/chasing you, you need to grasp control of your body, stare it down, and walk towards it. Then, point and laugh at it. After this, it should leave, or you will become hyper-aware (realize that nothing is making sense) and wake up. If you can’t tell whether or not you’re dreaming, bite the very back of your tongue, hard. If your tongue feels very soft, or numb, you’re dreaming. If your tongue feels hard or normal, you’re awake (note: this only works if you know what your tongue normally feels like). If you find yourself in between realities, or half asleep, try to shake your head really hard until you fully wake up. If your body doesn’t move, put all of your energy into rolling yourself off of your bed onto the floor. Finally, If you can’t wake up, but you want to, close your eyes tightly in your dream. Here’s a warning: never, ever try to scream in your dream. It will only make you more frightened, and it will make your “mind monsters” more confident. I can’t explain why, I have no idea. The only vocal things you can do in your dreams is: laugh, talk, and growl. Even whistle sometimes. Now you might be wondering “How do I become self aware?” That is up to you. You have to want to be aware of what’s going on in your head, no matter how painful it is. You have to grab full control of your body, and make it do what you want. This is one of the best ways you can make your dream do what you want it to. Make it a good dream. Besides that, just listen to good music before bed. Try Ryuichi Sakamoto.

  3. Reply
    Jan March 18, 2018 at 1:02 pm

    Dear Ella,
    You should have written this article. This was the kind of information I was looking for.
    Thank you,
    Jan

  4. Reply
    Noah April 4, 2018 at 12:43 pm

    a couple months ago, my friends decided to leave me, directly telling me they didnt want me around, and blocked me on all social media. i have had dreams of them almost every night since. we were best friends for most of high school and i trusted them both with my life but something suddenly switched and they now really dont want me around. something is up, something is weird, i dont know what the problem is, but if they dont want me around, i can deal with that. but the dreams keep happening. theyre not nightmares, most of the time. i just wake up sad. but the other day i had a dream about one of them specifically, and upon waking up i felt the intense urge to talk to her. so i asked someone to talk to her, see how she felt about maybe being friends with me again, and she basically called me manipulative and to stay away. i know this will mess with my sleep even worse. i try my best to avoid thinking about them during the day, but at night they someho still follow me. the dreams arent scary, just kind of sad and fuel my depression. i dont know what to do.

    • Reply
      Cate May 13, 2018 at 11:46 am

      We have a natural survival instinct to “belong” in a group, in society etc. Being rejected, ostracized, isolated and abandoned causes real fear of our ability to survive alone…and if we are in need of help and knowing that nobody will provide for our needs, real fear sets in. You may have to work to join one or more groups that meet or chat online and develop new friendships that can return some of your self esteem and well being and even power. When we feel we have little power, we can sometimes try to gain power over others by trying to control them and manipulate them. Work on controlling the things in your life that, once successful, will make you feel powerful enough with your achievements, there will be no desire to control others . Good Luck!

  5. Reply
    Yosmery April 6, 2018 at 3:10 am

    I get nightmares every day, some days i wake up about 4 times a night, and every time i go back to sleep the sane nightmare keeps continuing. Sometimes the same nightmare theme keeps continuing for days. But I learned how to deal with it. Their really terrifying but i learned how to deal with it. The worst part of a nightmare is waking up in your dream and realizing your still dreaming or that you can’t move or wake up at all, or feeling like there’s someone with you in the room.

  6. Reply
    Rachel April 10, 2018 at 5:32 am

    I too, have nightmares that continue for days! Also, when I go back to sleep after a nightmare it goes back to the same dream. I am aware that I am dreaming as I lucid dream. I try to change my dreams but it usually just a tweak of the current dream, which is still a bad dream. I am on medications for varying mental illnesses. I have a lot of anxiety and depression which can make bad dreams. I can honestly say, that I have NEVER had a good dream even from childhood. My dreams seem to be worse during times of more anxiety and currently this is where I am at, sadly.

  7. Reply
    Josie June 9, 2018 at 8:14 am

    Almost every night I have dreams of being held hostage. The people who take me always threaten to kill people I know if I don’t cooperate. It is so scary…

  8. Reply
    Grace June 25, 2018 at 5:28 am

    I was shielded from most things as a child so now as an adult, I face lots of things that are new and definitely give me night terrors. My #1 tip is when you wake up grab a comfort item (stuffed animal, special blanket, etc.) and lay with it and think of everything good that happen that day or just good things. Generally I grab my stuffed bear (adults can have stuffed animals too!) and think of my favorite ice cream and eating that. Trust me it helps and you will soon fall back into a daze, than sleep. Hope this helps!

  9. Reply
    Joyce July 13, 2018 at 6:39 pm

    Just woke up from a terrible nightmare about my sister…and I am here after searching for ways to avoid vivid dreams/nightmares.

    I often have ‘dark’ dreams (eg. ghosts of people I know and don’t know, entities, apocalypse). Thankfully Sleep Paralysis hasn’t happened in a long while. But still, these nightmares… even when I’m happy/all smiles before going to sleep.

  10. Reply
    Victoria July 19, 2018 at 12:56 am

    I suffer terribly with nightmares , just had one now about being stuck on the underground system ?? In which I was rescued / escaped only to be stuck back on it again , realised I was dreaming , and had to attack myself to wake up – hideous !!! I am on anxiety & depression medication which I know can cause bad dreams, but why some nights worse the others?
    I dream vividly every night , sometimes very interesting dreams, but do suffer from reoccurring dreams of being tracked down by a hit man & imminent torture !!!! Seriously nasty stuff !!!! Am waiting for therapy, not specifically for this but hope to get to the bottom of why these horrible themes ??
    Will try above mentioned methods …… desperate !!

  11. Reply
    Mansi Singh September 6, 2018 at 5:04 am

    I get nightmares almost everyday, even in a sleep of 10 minutes.
    They mainly consists of life and death. Many times I find myself in in an unknown place full of natural powers. Even after I wake up it takes me few minutes to come back in real life. And worst part is after it I forget almost everything I see in my dreams ,only remain my head bursting out it pains a lot.?

    I really don’t know about all those dreams what they want to convey. Every time I feel I m on any mission . And I never die, many a times I m closed to death but somebody save me. I don’t know who that person is. Sometime I get so stressed that I feel some natural powers around me.

    It really affects my daily life. Suggest something if you have any solution. Plzz..

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