We can barely control what we dream about, when and when not to dream. With a recommended minimum of eight hours of sleep that we hardly achieve under normal circumstances, a disturbing dream cutting short out 6-hr sleep period is the last thing we need.
Stress dreams are dreams during your REM cycle that ignite anxiety that tends to wake us up. ”What is the difference between stress dreams and nightmares?” you might ask.
Nightmares wake us with a bolt of fear whereas, in stress dreams, one experiences heightened stress levels before awakening.
Anxiety dreams have been studied over long periods to unearth their causes. People have built a whole career on dream interpretation since dreams have proven to be such a bother. Today, you will likely bump over those long random “what your dream means” blogs while surfing the internet.
Some of the most common stress dreams are about:
- Being chased after
- House fires
- Naked in public etc.
Dreams are a reflection of our daytime experiences. It is the unconscious mind’s way of telling us what we often think.
Claudia Luiz, a Psychoanalyst, explains that stress dreams result from unprocessed negative stimuli the brain is trying to process through the regulatory process of sleep.
Internal factors such as emotional baggage or external factors such as a bad day at work contribute to stress dreams.
More examples of these factors include:
- Fear or stress
- Traumatic events
- Insomnia or disrupted sleep
- Recent life changes
- Use of substances including alcohol
Immediate response after waking up from stress dreams
Going back to sleep after waking from a stressful dream is such a tall order. The following are a few hacks that you could use to fall back to sleep:
- Keep your lights dim
- Avoid watching television or scrolling through your phone
- Get a warm drink
- Play some soothing music or podcast
- Try breathing or meditative exercises
Long-term prevention and control of stress dreams
The above photo shows ways that could help control and prevent stress dreams. These ways include:
- Take care of your sleep.
Create a clean and serene sleeping environment and limit the number of daytime naps you take.
- Think positive thoughts
It is good to ensure positivity right before going to bed. Avoid any source of information that might give negative news.
- Set a bedtime routine and follow it
It is good to know what soothing effect your body responds to and maximize on it to ensure the body is relaxed. Some of the best bedtime routines are: having a bedtime playlist, eating light, brushing your teeth before sleeping, taking a shower, etc
- Rewrite your dreams
Rewriting the dreams reduces the traumatic effect from them. There is a healing effect that comes with re-imagining the dream scenarios.
- Pinpoint and get to the bottom of the issue
In case of underlying issues that act as trigger points, then it would be advisable to seek therapy or medication for these issues first.
- Talk it out
Sharing your dream moves the thoughts that might have triggered it from the unconscious mind to the conscious mind. In turn, this reduces the probability of a re-occurrence of the same.
Experiencing stressful dreams is quite normal, but that does not make having one enjoyable. It is advisable to invest in items, foods, and routines that encourage healthy sleeping patterns.