8 Tricks for Turning Nightmares into Sweet Dreams
Jun 13, 2012 (updated May 17, 2014)
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Find a happy place
A busy schedule means that many of us drop straight from a full day of work and household chores right into bed and expect to have sweet dreams. Getting ready for bed should involve a relaxing, nightly routine that gives you a chance to wind down from the day's stresses.
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Utilize a dream journal
If you've been plagued by nightmares, writing down and remembering your dreams may sound like less fun than dental work, but dream journals can be useful. Many images in dreams seem clearer and less scary when reviewed in the light of day.
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One of the benefits of paying more attention to the process of dreaming is that it can help you learn how to identify a nightmare as it is going on. This process-called lucid dreaming--can help you "take charge" of your own experience and reactions in dreams. Books on lucid dreaming can offer more advice on how to achieve control.
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Practicing some type of mindfulness meditation prior to bedtime can help keep bad dreams at bay. It's an easy way to fill your mind with images that you find peaceful and soothing.
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Keep a notebook handy
Many of the most anxiety-producing aspects of bad dreams come from quite ordinary anxieties of the day. Keeping a notebook by the bed can be helpful because it gives you a place to jot down any stressful reminders that zip around your mind; grocery items, errands, all of the things that you find yourself wanting to remember as you drift off. Getting those on paper can free your mind for anxiety-free dreams.
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Know your triggers
You already know that skipping late-night horror movies or the evening news is a smart move, but only you know what you find disturbing. You also know what tends to calm you down. Try reading books or magazines that you find restful, or listening to happy music.
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Don't overlook the obvious
Sometimes recurring nightmares are blessedly obvious. Don't overlook the obvious. Ask yourself why you're having nightmares--what's bothering you? And then consider what you could do to alleviate those anxieties.
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Nightmares can be healing
Some periods of nightmares are normal, even healthy. After illness, surgery, and other difficult times, nightmares are one way you body and mind try to deal with stress. So remember that periods of nightmares are very normal, and may even be helpful.