Nightmares are the vivid terrifying experiences of stupor. They are associated with tenacious feelings of fear, anxiety, sadness or agony. While bad dreams are more often experienced by children and teens, it is not atypical of adults to go through the affliction from time to time. Kids falling between seven to nine years of age are more prone to them. Young adults have more recurring nightmares than older ones. Nevertheless, nightmares can play havoc with anyone’s life at any point in time. 

Dreams resemble a virtual reality game. You don’t exactly live them but the happenings, emotions and ideas are all yours to take away. No wonder a beautiful dream enlivens you for the rest of the day. On the other hand, horrifying dreams may reverberate through your conscience for a ‘slightly’ longer duration; sometimes a few days, sometimes many years.

Also, disturbed sleep leads to the remembrance of nightmares. Now, the question is how to prevent bad dreams.

Although attempts have been made to analyze the sleep world, we can assert nothing for sure. However, years of research has been used to bless you with wisdom on how to avoid bad dreams. 

The Most Common Nightmares: Kids & Adults

There are colossal differences between the dream patterns of people. However, nightmares do carry similar sensations of fear, anxiety, anger, sadness and guilt. They find people in horrendous and appalling societal as well as personal situations. Of these, some are more common than others. 

  • Falling from a height
  • Being chased by someone or something terrifying
  • Dying
  • Feeling lost
  • Feeling trapped 
  • Missing a prime engagement or an event of essence
  • Falling behind the schedule
  • Death of a loved one
  • Visit by the soul of a dead acquaintance
  • Having your teeth fall out
  • Being naked in public
  • Getting paralyzed 

Usually, people dream about the things that worry them consciously or subconsciously. Babies and toddlers have nightmares about parting from their caregivers. Older children may visualize monsters. 

Such dreams can have various interpretations. However, it doesn’t change the fact that bad dreams at night make you ill at ease and need to be prevented. 

Causes Of Nightmares

The following are the causes of bad dreams. 

1. Everyday Affairs  

The daily-life mundane events take up space in your mind. When something starts affecting us more than it should or settles in our subconscious, we visualize them while sleeping as bad dreams. Stress overwork, a worrisome test, heath deterioration – all the phenomena that bother you appear in physical and metaphysical forms.

2. Negative Emotions

Sentiments such as anxiety, fear and stress can manifest themselves in the form of dreams. Studies have shown that it is not out of the place to see nightmares before big events or after traumatic circumstances. Fundamentally, anything important enough to bother you can lead to nightmares

3. Entertainment Modes 

Disturbing content does affect our sleep cycles. Scary novels, distressing articles, horror movies, upsetting news and every other thing that bothers you can lead to terrifying dreams. Kids spend the whole night fretting after watching monster films

4. Pregnancy

Kids are a handful and being pregnant needs two full hands. Amidst all the rush, exhaustion and hormones, a would-be-moms sleep cycle gets hampered. The tension may lead to scary dreams of losing her child or hurting them in any way.

5. Past Traumas

Incidents happen; their impacts stay. Post-traumatic stress disorder is one of the most common causes of nightmares in adults as well as in children.

6. Environment 

The condition you sleep in counts as much as your frame of mind. Unregulated temperature, noise and bumpy mattress perturb a sound sleep. The more you wake up, the more recollection you possess of your horror dreams.

7. Personality 

Creative people dream more than the ones with a rigid bent of mind. The sensitive ones experience more nightmares. Also, people who are emotionally distant have more unsatisfying sleep schedules than the ones who are happy with their loved ones; this triggers scary visions. Also, the kids who overthink are shown to have more horrifying dreams than their peers.

8. Substance Abuse Or Withdrawal

Overconsumption of mood-altering drinks and drugs affects your sleep cycle. Also, withdrawal takes a toll on your mind which may lead to messed up sleep cycles and nightmares.

9. Medications  

Your sleep schedule may get altered when you start taking a new medicine or discontinue the intake of a previous one. If these include narcotic pain medicines or sleeping pills, heavy withdrawal symptoms can be experienced. Also, if the drug you are on has psychedelic effects, that’s the cause of your scary dreams.

10. Food & Drinks Before Bed 

Eating just before going to bed is not a preferable option, especially when there’s junk food on the menu. Also, caffeine and fruits should be avoided at night unless you plan on staying awake for a work project

11. Sleep Deprivation 

Evergrowing sleep debt is a concomitant of the current lifestyle. Sleep dearth harms not only your body but your mind also

12. Sleep Disorders 

Narcolepsy, sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome are a few of the pervasive sleep disorders. They lead to disturbed sleep which increases the risk of nightmares

13. Health Issues  

You might have related your friends’ frequent nightmares with depression or anxiety issues they are facing. However, did you know that diseases such as cancer trigger nightmares especially when newly diagnosed? Also, body aches, migraines or fever can be a cause of bad dreams

Effective Remedies For Nightmares

Well, nightmares are exhausting. They do take a toll on your mind. Therefore, if there is anything you can do to help them, why not? Here is how to prevent bad dreams.

1. Customize Your Bedroom

Now that we understand the importance of perfect sleeping space, we must fashion our bedrooms as such. If you have been thinking of redecorating it for the past few months, do it. Change the knobbly mattress. Dim the lights. Lessen the noise. Use earplugs if necessary. You can put on soothing music if required. Takes time but worth it!

2. Plan A Schedule 

Routines help organize our lives. When we have ‘so much to do and so little time to get things done’, a routine keeps us on track. They help avoid the daily fuss and keep your mind calm, active as well as alert. Work out during the day and don’t forget to set an ideal bedtime and leave-the-bed time.

3. Eliminate The Strain

Nothing vitiates you more than stress. Try and avoid stress as much as possible. Try de-stressing yourself in varied ways. Movies, books, wine, a warm bath – anything that suits you, works. It’s tougher for women who experience bad dreams while pregnant but, for the health of your baby, relax

4. Decode Your Dreams

Pen your dream down. Try to make sense of it. Give it an astounding (and amazing) twist. If you have problems doing this all by yourself, ask a friend to help you

5. Before You Go To Bed, Wait!

Give some time to yourself before you go to bed. Relax your mind. Wash your face; wash your feet. Keep your phone away at least an hour beforehand; if possible, stay away from all electronic gadgets. Make sure that your mind is at peace before you jump into bed

When To Call On The Doctor?

Nightmares can have a calamitous effect on our everyday lives. Exhaustion, boredom and drowsiness are its lesser ramifications. When you had ignored the problem long enough, you might not be able to do the daily drudgery. A still longer curtailment may be the reason you might not even want to go to sleep.

When you start hankering for a good night’s sleep but to no avail, it is the right time to consult a therapist. They can help you resolve the underlying issues and come up with a plan to prevent bad dreams at night. Also, if you have dealt with a trauma recently, don’t waste a single minute. Post-traumatic stress disorder has messed the minds of many. 

If you are reading this article for the sake of your child, you must consult their paediatrician immediately. Talk to them about the occurrences in their lives. See that they are not under stress because of anything. Go to a psychologist if needed. Delay is more harmful to children than adults.

Key Takeaways

  1. Nightmares are common in both kids and adults.
  2. They affect us physically as well as mentally and influence the way we go about our lives.
  3. Real-life experiences, traumas, negative emotions or a big event may be a cause of bad dreams at night.
  4.  Diseases and medications are also common reasons for nightmares to occur.
  5. Sometimes, it is the person’s usual way of thinking that leads to them.
  6. To deal with nightmares requires a whole change in sleeping style, surroundings and schedule. 
  7. Don’t be hesitant to contact a medical expert.

Nightmares ransack a person’s life and strip it of the joys. This issue needs to be addressed. Therefore, instead of wasting your days in drowsiness, take action. Have a cup of warm coffee. When you are invigorated enough, figure out the reasons for your nightmares. I understand that fighting them requires a drastic lifestyle change but you deserve the efforts. Start down the path. If you feel lost, ask an expert for directions. Sooner or later, you will reach your destination. 

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