Nightmares can be caused by a number of different things.

For example, your nightmare might be caused by:

- Having a particular kind of food or drink before sleeping

- A side effect of prescription or off the counter medication that you are taking

- Anxiety about your ability to control a particular situation

- Having experienced or witnessed a traumatic event or repeated
events in the past

If you are unsure about what has caused your nightmares and simple measures do not seem to prevent the bad dreams recurring, then you should consult your doctor for a fuller diagnosis.

However, the following are initial steps that you can try, in order to begin to create a healthy sleep routine:

- Go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time very day

- Ensure that your sleeping environment is comfortable: for most
people sleeping is easiest in a quiet, dark room that is not too
hot or too cold

- Every night before sleeping follow a similar relaxing routine
such as a warm bath, or a simple stretching, relaxing or breathing exercise

- Reduce your intake of products containing caffeine, such as
coffee, tea, chocolate as these lead to wakefulness

- Avoid drinking alcohol before going to bed. It may help you to
fall asleep initially but it can lead to disturbed sleep and
sleeplessness later.

If your nightmares are due to a fear, or an anxiety that a disturbing or traumatic event which you have experienced in the
past may recur, then research suggests that the following can help:

1. Write down the recurring dream, including as much detail as you can regarding what happens in the dream. What do you see, what do people say in it, what do you hear, what do you feel, what changes in the dream, what stays constant?

2. Next, rewrite the dream in any way that you want so that it is no longer frightening and has a positive ending. Imagine that you are writing a script for a film that has a happy ending. Again, make sure that you include as many details as you can in the new dream to make it come alive in respect of what you see, hear, experience and feel.

3. Before you go to sleep, go through the dream as rewritten, going over the new script in your mind. Use your imagination as fully as you can to think about the positive details of the new dream.

You can rehearse the new dream during the day as well as after the nightmare occurs and before you go to sleep. Essentially you are re-programming your mind to have a more positive, creative and helpful experience.

Be patient - it may take several days before the nightmare begins transforming. Practising it and not getting annoyed with yourself if it does not immediately work will help this to succeed for you.

Please note that this technique is advised for people where the
objective risk of the traumatic or disturbing event recurring is
small. If there is genuinely a high risk of the traumatic event
recurring - for example, if you are subject to repeated assaults
from a partner or other person about which you are having
nightmares, you should seek advice from an appropriate independent party as to what you can do to get out of the situation or deal with it in the best way.

Author's Bio: 

David Bonham-Carter is an international life coach and stress consultant with over 15 years experience in the field of personal change management who has been featured on BBC radio giving expert life coaching advice.


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