How To Stop Nightmares and Bad Dreams

4 min read

Last Modified 4 March 2022 First Added 29 July 2014

By Laura Barns

If you often suffer from nightmares, you’ll no doubt want to learn how to stop having them. The good news is that there are steps you can take to stop bad dreams. We understand they can be disturbing and distressing in one way or another, and sometimes lead to sleeplessness and even nightmares every night. Read on as we explore how to stop having nightmares.

Why do I keep having nightmares?

One of the first steps we should take when trying to prevent nightmares is to look at what causes them and why you’re having them. In simple terms, they’re caused by the work of our unconscious minds releasing fears and tensions whilst we are resting. According to the NHS “There are many possible causes of adult nightmares, but they’re often linked to stress, trauma or an existing mental health condition. They can also occur after taking certain types of medication, such as antidepressants.”

How to avoid nightmares

After understanding what is causing them, there are things you can do to try and avoid bad dreams. Here we will share a few simple ways on how to prevent those sleep-depriving nightmares naturally.

1. Sleep comfortably and rest easier

Uncomfortable beds or sleeping positions can sometimes contribute to creating nightmares, so it’s important that both your mattress and bed are in good condition. The more comfortable your bed and bedroom are, the more likely you are to enjoy peaceful, nightmare- free sleep. Also, if you are prone to nightmares try not to sleep on your back, as this position has been known to encourage nightmares.

2. Watch what you eat and drink

The food you eat could be the cause of your nightmares. And, eating dinner very close to bedtime can literally feed your nightmares, so try not to do it. And cheese for supper is another snack that can cause problems. You should also avoid high-energy drinks, soft drinks, alcohol, coffee or tea, in the evenings. These contain caffeine that will keep you awake long into the night.

3. De-stress and relax your mind

Leave the stress outside the bedroom. Doing a sporting activity two or three times a week will help to release any tension that you could be carrying home. And if you’re not the sporty type, have a little walk outside in the evening to help clear your mind. Reading a good book is another option that can help you unwind and de-stress, but for obvious reasons avoid horror stories, thrillers and anything else that will stimulate your imagination and could lead to bad dreams. There are many sleep relaxation techniques you can try, you just need to find one that suits you.

4. Keep to a routine

Being overtired can lead to nightmares so try and restrict your late nights to the weekends and treat yourself to an early night every now and again. If you aim for a regular sleep pattern and hit the sack every night at the same time, this too could greatly reduce the occurrence of nightmares.

5. Something smells nice

Keep fresh flowers in your bedroom, or sprinkle some aromatic oils like lavender on your pillow. Research has shown that pleasant fragrances can have a positive effect on your dreams and maybe keep the nightmares at bay.

6. Talk through the problem

Another way to avoid nightmares is to confront them. Whether it’s a work-related scenario or a memory that goes back to your childhood, talking through your bad dreams with a friend, partner or relative could reduce anxiety and help you come to terms with what’s disturbing your sleep pattern.

How to have good dreams

According to dream expert Lauri Loewenberg “we tend to dream about what’s on our mind the most”. Therefore, to try to influence good dreams, we must concentrate on controlling our thoughts and mental well-being throughout the day. One of the best methods to influence our dreams is to practise good sleep habits and surround ourselves with pleasant, happy ideas before going to bed.

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