Hoew to Cope with Nightmares

Cope with Nightmares
No matter what age you are, having nightmares can be an awful and difficult experience, and knowing they aren’t real doesn’t always help. If you experience nightmares regularly or had one recently, there are a few ways you can cope with them and forget your fears.

Method 1 of 3:Grounding Yourself

1. Calm down quickly

Calm down quickly. When you wake up from a nightmare, chances are you will be in somewhat of a panic. Take the following steps quickly to help you break this panic and start to ground yourself:

Sit up quickly after awaking from your nightmare.
Sit on the edge of the bed, with your feet on the floor.
Focus on your surroundings. Start naming the things in your room.
Calmly reassure yourself. Tell yourself you are safe and fully awake.
Try to sleep again. If you can’t after fifteen minutes, do something relaxing until tired.

2. Ground your senses
Ground your senses. While you can reassure your mind that you are awake and safe, it is also important to reassure your senses and body as well. Ground each sense by taking the following steps:

Taste. Try eating something strong, like a mint. Avoid sugar as it will affect sleep.
Touch. Touch something with a rough texture or cold temperature like an ice cube.
Smell. Keep a comforting and strong smell next to your bed such as coffee or cloves.
Sound. Choose a comforting sound or listen to gentle music.

3. Learn how to breathe calmly
Learn how to breathe calmly. Calm breathing can help lower heart rate and reduce any state of panic or stress that a nightmare can have on you. By following the steps of this technique, you can greatly improve the speed at which you recover after a nightmare:

Breathe in through your nose, with mouth closed, and hold for five seconds.
Exhale slowly. Mentally think of a word such as “relax” or “calm” as you exhale.
Hold for five seconds and then inhale again.
Practice this breathing throughout the day, before bed, and after any nightmare.

4. Don’t dwell on your nightmares
Don’t dwell on your nightmares. Right after you wake up from a nightmare, try not to think about what it was you experienced. Sitting in bed dwelling on the nightmare will only increase anxiety, which will make it difficult to fall back asleep, as well as increase the likelihood of another nightmare.

Wait until the morning to analyze and examine your nightmares.
Get out of bed and ground yourself immediately. Try making a cup of tea and reading a calming book in low, soothing lighting.
Reassure yourself that you are safe, check that the doors and windows of your house are locked.
Remind yourself that although frightening, the nightmare is over. Picture yourself back in control of your own life.

Method 2 of 3:Finding the Causes of Your Nightmares

1. Journal your nightmares

Journal your nightmares. When you are awake, during the day, write your nightmares down in a journal. Keeping a good record of the details, themes, images, and dialogues of your nightmares will help you examine them and possibly find any causes in your waking life.

Get as much detail as you can when you write your nightmares down.

Writing down feelings, even if you cannot remember why you felt that way in the dream. Knowing that in your dreams you are feeling lost is important.

2. Look for any relation to your waking life
Look for any relation to your waking life. Is there anywhere that you feel like you don’t have control? Nightmares typically have to do with an area of your life where you don’t have control, or didn’t in the past. For instance, having nightmares about someone yelling at you or hurting you might be related to a hostile work environment.
Try picturing how you could have more control, solve problems more effectively, or avoid them completely.

Visualize your nightmare again, but this time, picture yourself handling the problems in your dream successfully.

3. Talk with trusted friends and family
Talk with trusted friends and family. Tell anyone you trust about your nightmares. The support of your friends and family can also help bring comfort to you and reduce the likelihood of nightmares occurring.

Talking with others about your nightmares can help you recall details and come to better examine your dreams for any links to your waking life.
Only speak to people you trust and feel safe describing your nightmares with.

4. Look for any causes of your nightmare
Look for any causes of your nightmare. Nightmares can be caused by a number of activities and removing or altering these behaviors can put an end to the nightmares. Examine your daily actions and look for anything that might be causing your nightmares, which may include:

Extreme stress in your life. Any source of stress in your life can carry over into your dream life and cause nightmares. Look at your daily routine and see if any part of it is overly stressful. Try to improve that situation, making it less stressful, and see if your nightmares are reduced.

A traumatic event or PTSD. If you have experienced a traumatic event in the past, this may be responsible for your nightmares. Generally, nightmares stemming from trauma will have elements of that trauma within them and are often repetitive.

Stopping or starting a new medication. Talk with your doctor to learn more about any prescriptions you may have been given, or ordered to end, to learn if they might cause nightmares as a side-effect.
Abusing alcohol or drugs. Alcohol and drugs can interrupt sleep mechanisms and patterns, resulting in nightmares. Examine your consumption of substances such as these and their possible relation to your nightmares. Speak with your doctor for help ending substance abuse.

5. Visit your doctor
Visit your doctor. If nightmares persist more than once a week or are preventing you from getting good sleep, call your doctor and schedule an appointment. Prepare yourself by expecting the following questions and procedures during your visit.

When and how often do your nightmares occur?
How well are you sleeping? Do you often awake suddenly and have difficulty returning to sleep?
Does the nightmare cause intense fear and anxiety?
Have you recently been ill or under a great deal of stress?
Which medications are you currently taking? Do you use any drugs or alcohol? How often and how much? Do you use any alternative medicines or therapies?
You may be given a physical and a neurological/psychological examination.

6. Try approaching your nightmares with art
Try approaching your nightmares with art. This may not be the best approach for people with severe trauma, such as PTSD without professional guidance. But for many, examining dreams through expressive art can help you examine, understand it, and express it enough to let it go. This includes:

Expressive art: Painting, sketching, sculpture
Music: Composing, music
Performing art: movies, dance, theater
Creative writing: poems, short story, novel, blog.

Method 3 of 3:Using Imagery Rehearsal Therapy

1. Learn what Imagery Rehearsal Therapy is

Learn what Imagery Rehearsal Therapy is. If you have nightmares as a result of trauma or reoccurring nightmares, you may want to employ imagery rehearsal therapy. Imagery rehearsal therapy has been shown to be effective in reducing the frequency of nightmares.

Imagery rehearsal therapy involves the active rewriting of your nightmare.
Imagery rehearsal therapy has been proven effective and is a simple technique.
Talk with your doctor or therapist to learn how imagery rehearsal therapy can work best for you.

2. Write your nightmare down
Write your nightmare down. Recall your nightmare while you are awake and write it down as if it were a story. Try to capture the narrative of the nightmare and any details you feel are relevant.

Don’t be afraid to recall your nightmare. Remember why you are revisiting it.
Be as honest and accurate as you can in your recollection.

3. Make your changes
Make your changes. Take charge of your nightmare and rewrite any part of it you want. The main idea here is to transform the negative aspects of your nightmare into positive aspects. By restructuring your nightmare, you eliminate the original mental cause of the nightmare. Try changing the following aspects:

Change the ending to a positive one.

Change the overall theme.

Change the story line to take the dream to a better place.
Change any details you would like.

4. Mentally rehearse your new script

Mentally rehearse your new script. Actively imagine the nightmare during the day, this time with the changes you have made. Rehearsing your nightmare in this way will help tell your mind that the positive new narrative you have crafted is to replace the old nightmare.

Do this for at least once a day, for a few minutes.
Repetition of this re-imagining can help the effect.
Try reading your re-imagined nightmare right before you sleep.