This letter writer is plagued by recurring nightmares.
From getting to the root of stress to creating healthy sleep habits, our elder has a wealth of advice.
I’ve been having a recurring dream about being chased since 2020 during quarantine. It’s always about someone wanting to kill me or harm me. It’s always a different scenario, but I never see the face. I really need help. I don’t know what to do.
You are not alone. Many people have the same or a similar dream many times, over either a short period of time or their lifetime. I am one of those people. While doing research to better understand my own recurring dream issue, I learned that 60-75 percent of adults have recurring dreams and many of these people report that their recurrent dreams usually contain some negative dream content that causes lower psychological well being.
The common themes include being attacked or chased, falling, being stuck, being late, missing or failing an exam, and even losing control of a car.
I also learned that recurring dreams usually mean there is something in your life you’ve not acknowledged that is causing stress of some sort. The dream repeats because you have not corrected the problem. Another theory is that people who experience recurring dreams have some sort of trauma in their past they are trying to deal with. In this case, the dreams tend to lessen with time.
The big stressor that all of us have had to deal with is changing our lives due to the Covid 19 impacts on every aspect of our lives.
I am not a medical/mental health professional or a dream therapist but in my quest to cope with my own issue of recurring dreams I became aware of the following:
- To stop these recurring dreams, you will have to figure out what the nightmare means. You first need to find the root of your problem. Think about what is stressing you out or upsetting you in your life at the moment. You may even have to dig deep into your past to figure out if there are traumas that you have yet to deal with head on. Next you need to record every detail of your recurring dream. This will help you break down what needs to be addressed.
- After you complete that task, you then need to start connecting the dots and soon you will realize that problems you have in your life will be hinted at in your dreams. After you have figured out the problem you must work to overcome it. Whether it be relationship issues, work stress or something else, once you overcome this problem your recurring dream should go away.
You also may have to make some lifestyle changes such as those below to reduce your recurring bad dreams:
- Create healthy sleep habits by improving your bedtime routine.
- Create a sleep schedule. A sleep schedule can help to make sure that you’re getting enough sleep throughout the night. It can also provide some routine stability if you’re experiencing recurring nightmares due to stress or anxiety.
- Ditch the electronics. A huge part of getting better sleep is making sure that your body is ready to sleep. The blue light from electronics is known to suppress melatonin, the sleep hormone, making it harder to fall and stay asleep.
- Avoid stimulants. Taking stimulants before bed can make it more difficult to fall asleep. Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine and any other stimulant.
- Set the stage. You should make sure that your bed, pillows, and blankets are comfortable. In addition, decorating your bedroom with familiar, comforting items can help create a safe space to fall asleep.
When you experience recurring nightmares, you may find it difficult to fall back asleep again. Here are a few methods you can use to calm yourself down after waking up from a bad dream:
- Practice deep breathing. If you wake up scared or anxious, deep breathing, also called diaphragmatic breathing, can help to slow your heart rate and lower your blood pressure. https://www.verywellhealth.com/how-to-do-deep-breathing-exercises-1945350
- Discuss the dream. Sometimes, discussing the dream with a partner or friend can help to alleviate some of the anxiety it may have caused. It can also be a good way to reflect on the fact that it’s only a dream, and nothing more.
- Rewrite the dream. If you can rewrite the nightmare into something that’s less scary or disturbing, you may find yourself able to fall back asleep again. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/199211/directing-your-dreams
As I stated previously, recurring bad dreams have an underlying cause. Once you treat the cause of the recurring nightmares, you may be able to reduce or eliminate them for good.
Article #: 480964