It’s not uncommon for someone to struggle with sleep and for sleep struggles to take a massive toll on a person’s life. After all, sleep generally occupies a third of our day, so it’s no wonder the repercussions of bad sleep are serious.
Poor sleep quality can affect mood, attention, decision-making, memory, and a person’s physical and mental health. If your sleep is being interrupted by nightmares, it’s time to discover the root of nighttime distress and focus on building a sleep plan that makes you feel safe, peaceful and well-rested.
How to stop having nightmares
If you’re experiencing regular nightmares, disturbances during sleep or difficulty falling asleep, there are several probably root causes and ways to reverse them. Here’s what you need to know.
Recognize the source
Learning how to stop having nightmares beings with analyzing the source of the fear and understanding its impact on your life. Nightmares that cause fear in daily life, lead to troubles in work or relationships or cause you to avoid things unnecessarily should be important to address.
Nightmares and sleep disturbances can be caused by mental health issues, such as trauma, PTSD, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and more. If you have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder or think you might be affected by one, it’s likely that your mental illness is causing issues around the clock.
Nightmares can also be caused by unprocessed memories or thoughts. If you’ve found yourself suppressing certain past experiences and are unable to express them through counseling or a friend. Thoughts and images that are harbored and ignored in your mind will often represent themselves when your subconscious isn’t as alert or defensive.
Over-exhaustion can also lead to low sleep quality and unwanted dreams during sleep. Ensure that you’re getting adequate rest on a regular basis to eradicate preventable nightmares.
How to get better sleep
Figuring out how to get better sleep is a case-by-case adventure, but there are some common tools that can help anyone determine the root of sleep issues and start brainstorming potential solutions. Here’s what you can do to begin.
Tracking your sleep patterns
Keeping a daily journal of sleep issues is the best way to begin noticing patterns and finding the source of unrest. Write out everything you can remember about your dreams as soon as you wake up and see if you notice reoccurring images, people, places or themes.
Consider how your dreams relate to personal experiences
Your dreams may be pointing to something specific in your daytime life. Maybe they stem from dysfunction in a relationship, stress at work or unresolved trauma. Consider the big issues in your life and try to connect the dots.
Tips to get better sleep
Thankfully there are plenty of ways you can improve your sleep when you put in the commitment to implementing them regularly. Here’s what you want to know so you can start getting the sound sleep you’ve been missing and reaping all the benefits that come with it.
Get on a regular sleep schedule
The key to good sleep is consistency. Your goal is to build a sleep schedule where you’re going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning. It’s easier said than done but try to aim for a one-hour window to start your night of sleep and sleep for a full eight hours.
2. Change up your sleep environment
While consistency is important, consistency in the wrong environment isn’t going to help anyone. Ensure your place of rest induces sleep by maintaining low lighting at night, a comfortable temperature and cozy bedding. Reserve your room for relaxing tasks, which means if you work from home you’ll need to find another place to do so.
3. Keep devices off for an hour before bed
While scrolling might help you escape those late-night thoughts that can cause you to worry, the reality is that using your phone before bed only delays those thoughts from brimming to the surface and can decrease your sleep quality. Schedule time to reflect on the day or read before falling asleep instead.
4. Get daytime sunshine
Your circadian rhythm is your body’s internal clock. It moderates your body’s energy levels, including how tired you are when bedtime rolls around. To ensure your internal clock is synchronized to your environment, make sure you’re getting daytime sunlight, especially in the early morning.
5. Set yourself up for success
The activities you do in the three or four hours before bed are important to your nighttime routine, too. Eating large meals, drinking alcohol or consuming caffeine can mess with your bedtime according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
These tips to get better sleep can ensure that you’re making the most out of your nighttime rest and are easy to apply to your life today. You’ll see the impact of the benefits on your life quickly and you can take advantage of those perks for the rest of your life when you make those behaviors into habits.
When nightmares are still happening
If after a few weeks of implementing these tips to get the better sleep you’re still struggling with poor sleep and nightmares, you’ll want to reach out to a professional who can help you analyze your sleep and come up with practical solutions.
A sleep concern that doesn’t go away or gets worse with time might be a sign of an underlying issue or a need for medication. It’s possible your struggles in how to stop having nightmares could be due to anxiety, depression, sleep apnea, narcolepsy or other medical or mental health disorders.
For a second opinion on your sleep experiences, reach out to The Light Program. We offer confidential and evidence-based interventions including outpatient and residential treatment, counseling, teletherapy and more. Reach out today to get better rest tomorrow and start feeling like yourself again.