Are you having nightmares that are becoming increasingly difficult to shake off? Nightmares can be frightening, especially if they're frequent and you know it's not just your imagination at work. You might have recurring nightmares because of certain underlying issues, such as sleep disorders or eating disorders.
If you find yourself having recurring nightmares in your sleep, it could be an indication of a sleep disorder. There are many causes of nightmares; you may have experienced trauma or stress that'screating these recurrent dreams or simply trying to cope with feelings by dreaming them away.
In any case, there are ways to treat nightmare disorders and get back to restful nights. Here are some possible reasons why you might have recurring nightmares lately and how you can break free from them.
Causes of recurring nightmares
There are many possible causes of recurring nightmares, including stress, anxiety, sleep deprivation, and certain medications. If you have bad dreams regularly, it's important to speak with your doctor to rule out any underlying medical conditions.
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Busting certain myths
People often think that nightmares are caused by stress or trauma. However, studies have shown that there are many different causes of nightmares.
For example, bad dreams can be a side effect of sleep disorders, medications, or mental health conditions. Sleep deprivation and eating certain foods before bed can also trigger nightmares.
If you're having recurrent nightmares, you must consult a doctor to rule out any underlying causes.
Sleep management techniques, such as relaxation therapy or journaling before bed, may also help reduce the frequency of nightmares. It is always worth noting if there is an association between food intake and night terrors, as certain foods can cause blood sugar levels to drop.
Impact of nightmares on your sleep
Nighttime is supposed to be a time of rest and rejuvenation, but for some people, it's a time of terror. Whether you're dreaming about your death or running from an attacker, recurring nightmares can leave you feeling exhausted, frightened and unable to sleep.
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While the occasional nightmare isn't caused for concern, if you find yourself suffering through them more than once a week, it may indicate that something is going on in your life that's affecting how well you sleep.
Why you might be experiences nightmares?
1. Not getting enough sleep
If you're having a hard time sleeping because of your nightmares, then they could be causing you to sleep poorly and not get enough rest.
2. Mental disorders
People with mental disorders such as PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) often have trouble sleeping. Other mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression can make it difficult to sleep well.
3. Lack of control
Nightmares are often triggered by a lack of control over one's life circumstances. Trauma victims often experience nightmares related to their event even years later.
4. Daytime sleepiness
If you're experiencing daytime sleepiness, this can also affect how well you sleep at night.
5. Unhealthy habits
Habits like drinking caffeine late at night or eating high-carbohydrate meals before bed might keep you up.
Ways to avoid nightmares and get restful sleep
1. Use your bed only for sleeping
If you watch TV or work on your laptop in bed, you may be unintentionally conditioning yourself to associate that space with activities other than sleeping. (You want your mind to learn that when it's time to sleep, it should switch off all non-sleep functions and get ready for shut-eye.)
2. Avoid eating or drinking anything caffeinated before bed
Caffeinated drinks and foods can cause you to have a hard time sleeping. If you cannot stop drinking or eating caffeinated foods, it is best to take them in smaller amounts later in the day. This helps your body transition to sleep mode at night more easily and reduces your chances of having nightmares.
3. Be careful about what you eat for dinner
Eating food high in sugar before bedtime can affect your sleep cycle and make it harder for you to get restful sleep. Try to stay away from any sugary foods or drinks before bedtime if possible. If you need something sweet after dinner, try a small glass of milk with some honey added to it instead of an unhealthy dessert like ice cream or chocolate cake. Milk contains calcium that will help release the sugars from your bloodstream so they won't bother you while trying to sleep.
4. Establish a regular sleep schedule and stick to it as much as possible
Set yourself up for success by establishing a sleep routine and sticking to it every night. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. Sleep experts recommend getting between 7-9 hours of sleep each night which may seem difficult but can be accomplished by setting aside enough time for yourself each evening, so you don't have any distractions such as electronics.
5. Get plenty of exercise during the day
One way to promote good quality sleep is through exercise during the day. Exercise helps regulate blood flow and releases endorphins which will make you feel better overall. If possible, try to work out first thing in the morning when you have more energy because this can also lead to better sleep habits and a positive mood throughout the day.
Check out WELLNESS TV for a plethora of guided fitness sessions by professionals.
6. Try relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation
Stress can contribute to nightmares, so it's important to find ways to relax both mentally and physically. Deep breathing is one relaxation technique that can calm your mind and reduce stress levels.
When to seek professional help?
If your nightmares are impacting your quality of life or causing you distress, it might be time to see a professional. Other times you might need to seek professional help, including if your nightmares are keeping you from getting restful sleep or if they're negatively impacting your mental health.
If you have any suicidal thoughts or behaviours, it's also important to get professional help right away. There is a chance that the root cause of your recurring nightmares is something more serious than anxiety and depression-like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
PTSD can develop after living through traumatic events such as car accidents, sexual assault, natural disasters, military combat, and even school shootings.
There are many potential reasons why you might be having recurring nightmares. It could be a sign that something is stressing you out or that you're not getting enough rest. It could also be an indicator of a mental health issue like post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, or chronic depression. If you want to get to the bottom of your bad dreams, consider seeking professional help and advice from your doctor.