Almost everyone can suffer from nightmares, especially in light of the emerging corona virus “Covid-19”.
With a combination of additional stress and stay-at-home orders, “more people have nightmares,” says UCLA professor of medicine David Geffen School of Medicine and board member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, Jennifer Martin.
These 10 steps may help you ease your nightmares, improve your sleep and improve your quality of life:
1. Adhere to a sleep routine
“One of the most effective ways to treat nightmares in adults is to actually get them to sleep better so they wake up less,” Martin said.
A healthy sleep routine leads to a sound sleep, so be sure to establish a routine by exercising, setting bedtime and waking times, and avoiding stimulating drinks after midday.
2. Reducing alcohol consumption
Alcoholic drinks can cause discomfort and wake up throughout the night, which may help you remember nightmares, Martin says.
Instead, try consuming herbal teas or other sleep-aid drinks.
It is okay to drink one alcoholic drink more than 3 hours before bedtime. But if the drink causes drowsiness after dinner, or wakefulness at bedtime, avoid drinking it.
3. Do not eat before bed
And snacks can boost your metabolism, making your mind more active, and that could lead to nightmares, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
Avoid eating two to 3 hours before bed.
4. Review your medications
Some medications can trigger nightmares by interrupting a sleep phase called rapid eye movement (REM).
While melatonin aids sleep, it affects the circadian rhythms that regulate REM sleep, and this may lead to more or less nightmares.
And if you want to take melatonin for better sleep, be sure to discuss it with a sleep specialist to make sure it does not exacerbate the problem, according to Martin.
5. Do activities that relieve stress
Progressive muscle relaxation is effective in reducing nightmares.
Manhattan-based health and sleep psychologist Joshua Tal said by email that nightmares activate the sympathetic nervous system, the body’s natural response to imminent danger.
The body also has an innate relaxation system, the parasympathetic nervous system.
Progressive muscle relaxation can help revitalize this system.
6. Record your concerns
Make sure to write about your concerns to get them out of your mind early on.
Thal said that journaling can be helpful in relieving nightmares and stress in general.
7. Don’t see scary contents before bed
Martin suggests dealing with neutral or emotionally positive things before bed, as our nightly observations can appear during sleep.
Our lives are scary in light of the pandemic, so looking at news platforms can trigger disturbing dreams compared to looking at pictures of your recent vacation with your family, according to Martin.
8. Rewrite the end of your nightmare
Given that nightmares can be learned from brain behavior, this point involves coding the narrative elements of the dream in detail.
Then, rewrite the dream in a form that ends in a positive way.
And right before going to sleep, set the intention that you will dream again, and say out loud that if you encounter the beginnings of the same dream, you will be able to sail into a better dream with a positive outcome.
9. Have a device that generates noise
Silence is fundamental to a sleep routine, but for those who do not like total calm, or who wake up with uncontrollable noises at night, having background noise may be a “good strategy,” according to Martin.
10. Check your mental health
If nothing works, and you still have nightmares, talk to a therapist or sleep specialist.