We’ve all woken up with our hearts beating out our chests after surviving a terrible nightmare. Whether it’s being chased by something scary or losing someone close to you, nightmares can disrupt our sleep cycles because of lingering discomfort.
One of the most challenging side effects of a nightmare is its tendency to create sleep anxiety. This is a phenomenon in which you begin to build natural fears around falling asleep, in this case, because you’re dreading the discomfort of a nightmare you feel certain you’ll experience.
While nightmares are inconvenient, they’re also easily overcome with the right approach. Here are five ways you can sleep better despite your recent interruptions:
1. Set Up A Soothing Bedtime Ritual
When dealing with sleep anxiety, ensure you make the process of falling asleep as simple and stress-free as possible. This includes ensuring you have a bedtime ritual or two that calms you down enough to get a good night of restorative sleep.
Bedtime rituals that might be soothing for those who deal with severe nightmares include reading books – be sure to find subjects that are light, rather than stressful, watching a funny tv show, or even having a warm bath right before bed.
2. Find Productive Ways To Deal With Anxiety
Oftentimes, your nightmares are a manifestation of some of your most severe anxieties. To take care of your nightmares, then, you’ll need to deal with the root cause of your anxiety first. Consider taking meditation or mindfulness classes to help you learn to deal with anxiety more productively, rather than repressing it and let it emerge in other ways.
Other productive ways to deal with anxiety include journaling, getting a regular exercise routine, and even eating healthier – simple lifestyle changes can make a big difference to how well-equipped you feel to handle additional stress.
3. Skip The Next Few Horror Movies
While they might be entertaining to watch during the day, the shows we watch and the media we consume can have a deeper impact on us later in the night. In one study conducted in 2009, older college students reported having excellent recall of a frightening TV show or alternate media experience, with 50% stating it had affected their sleep and even eating patterns.
If you’re experiencing a sudden surge of nightmares, try avoiding horror movies or tv shows for a little while.
4. Keep Your Sleep Set Up As Cozy As Possible
Your bedroom can play a greater role in the quality of your sleep than you think. Overly cold or warm temperatures can add to the disruption of your sleep cycle, and might contribute to nightmares and other traits of irregular sleep.
Finding the best mattress for your comfort, setting your thermostat to around 65 degrees Fahrenheit, and using other sleep tools such as weighted blankets, which have been found to be particularly effective with conditions such as sleep anxiety, can help contribute to better sleep.
5. Consult A Physician About Your Medication
Certain medications might have unintended side effects, especially in the case of certain antidepressants and even sleeping pills. If you’ve noticed your onset of nightmares lines up with when you first began taking a new type of medication, it might be worth consulting a doctor, and switching the type you’re taking to see if that helps.
With the right bedtime routine and a sleep set-up that keeps you cozy, your nightmares will soon become a thing of the past. By prioritizing comfort and keeping your wellbeing at the forefront of everything you do, you’ll find yourself resting better than ever.