3 Ways to Overcome Nightmares

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3 Ways to Overcome Nightmares
3 Ways to Overcome Nightmares

Nightmares can be an unpleasant experience. While you can reduce the chances of them occurring, there are times when nightmares become unavoidable. Here are some techniques you can use to better deal with nightmares.


Method 1 of 3: Calming Yourself

Cope with Nightmares Step 1
Cope with Nightmares Step 1

Step 1. Calm down quickly

When you wake up from a nightmare, you may be in a state of panic. Follow these steps to stop panicking and calm yourself down:

  • Sit down immediately after waking up from a nightmare.
  • Sit on the side of the bed with your feet touching the ground.
  • Focus on the environment. Start by naming the objects in the room.
  • Calmly reassure yourself. Tell yourself that you are safe and fully awake.
  • Try to go back to sleep. If you can't sleep after fifteen minutes, do something relaxing until you feel tired.

Step 2. Calm your senses

Even if you can reassure your mind, your senses and body also need to be calmed. Calm each of the senses by performing the following steps:

  • Taster. Try eating something strong, like mint. Avoid sugar because it can affect you when you sleep.
  • Touch. Touch something rough or cold, such as an ice cube.
  • smell. Place something that smells strong and comfortable next to your bed, such as coffee or cloves.
  • Hearing. Choose a soothing sound or listen to a soft song.
Cope with Nightmares Step 3
Cope with Nightmares Step 3

Step 3. Learn how to breathe calmly

Calm breathing can help reduce the speed of your heart rate and reduce panic or stress caused by nightmares. You can increase the speed of recovery from nightmares by following these steps:

  • Inhale through your nose, with your mouth closed, and hold for five seconds.
  • Exhale slowly. Think of words that relate to "relax" or "calm" as you exhale.
  • Hold for five seconds then repeat the first step.
  • Practice this way of breathing throughout the day, before bed, and after nightmares.
Cope with Nightmares Step 4
Cope with Nightmares Step 4

Step 4. Try not to think too much about the nightmare

Try not to think about what you experienced when you woke up. Sitting on the bed thinking about the dream will only increase anxiety and make it difficult to sleep, as well as increase the likelihood of other nightmares.

  • Wait until morning to analyze and examine your nightmare.
  • Get out of bed and calm down as soon as possible. Try making a cup of tea and reading a soothing book in less light.
  • Convince yourself that you are safe, make sure the doors and windows of the house are locked.
  • Remind yourself that your nightmare is over and as bad as it is, a dream is just a dream.

Method 2 of 3: Finding the Cause of Nightmares

Cope with Nightmares Step 5
Cope with Nightmares Step 5

Step 1. Record any nightmares you have

Write down your experiences in a journal during the day. Keeping a record of the details, themes, images, and dialogue that occurs in your nightmares will help you analyze and locate their source in the real world.

  • Gather as many details as possible when making a nightmare log.
  • Look for things that relate in the real world. For example, when you have a bad dream about someone yelling or hurting you, it is possible that the dream is related to a hostile work environment.
  • Record feelings, including when you don't know "why" they appear in dreams. It is important for you to take note of the dreams that make you feel lost.
Cope with Nightmares Step 6
Cope with Nightmares Step 6

Step 2. Talk to trusted family or friends

Tell people you trust about your nightmare. Support from friends and family can help you reduce the chances of having nightmares.

  • Talking to others about nightmares can help you remember details and things that relate to the real world.
  • Speak only to people you trust and are comfortable with talking about nightmares.
Cope with Nightmares Step 7
Cope with Nightmares Step 7

Step 3. Find the cause of your nightmare

Nightmares can be caused by a variety of activities and stopping or changing these activities can eliminate the cause of the nightmares. Consider what you do each day and look for things that can cause nightmares from the list below:

  • Heavy stress in life. Any source of stress in your life can carry over into dreams and cause nightmares. Make a list of your daily activities and note which activities have the most stress levels. Try to reduce the stress caused by these activities and see if what you do can reduce the occurrence of nightmares.
  • Traumatic events or PTSD. If you have been traumatized by an event, it is possible that your nightmares were caused by that event. In general, nightmares caused by trauma will have part of the trauma you experienced in them and are often repeated.
  • Stopping or starting new medicines. Talk to your doctor about prescription medications you may have received, or been asked to stop using, to ask if they can cause side effects such as nightmares or not.
  • Alcohol and drug abuse. Alcohol and drugs can disrupt sleep mechanisms and patterns, resulting in nightmares. Check how often you consume these substances and their possible involvement in your nightmares. Talk to your doctor for help stopping substance abuse.
Cope with Nightmares Step 8
Cope with Nightmares Step 8

Step 4. Go to the doctor

If nightmares occur more than once per week or interfere with healthy sleep patterns, make an appointment to see a doctor. Before going to the doctor, prepare yourself to answer and undergo the questions and procedures below:

  • When and how often do your nightmares occur?
  • How good is your sleep quality? Do you often wake up suddenly and have trouble getting back to sleep?
  • Do nightmares cause high levels of fear and anxiety?
  • Have you been feeling sick or under a lot of stress lately?
  • What medicines are you taking? Do you take drugs or alcohol? If so, how often and by how much? Do you use drugs or alternative therapies?
  • You may be asked to undergo physical and neurological/psychological tests.

Step 5. Try to take an artistic approach to your nightmares

This method may not be the best for people with severe trauma, such as PTSD, if not accompanied by an expert. For most people, exploring dreams through expressive arts can help them explore, understand, and channel them until they can release their minds from trauma. Activities that can be carried out include:

  • Expressive arts: Painting, sketching, sculpting
  • Music: Composing, music
  • Performing arts: film, dance, theater
  • Creative writing: poetry, short stories, novels, blogs.

Method 3 of 3: Using Imagery Rehearsal Therapy

Cope with Nightmares Step 9
Cope with Nightmares Step 9

Step 1. Understand Imagery Rehearsal Therapy

If your nightmares are the result of trauma or recurring nightmares, try using imagery rehearsal therapy. Imagery rehearsal therapy has been shown to be effective in reducing the frequency of nightmares.

  • Imagery rehearsal therapy is a process that involves actively rewriting nightmares.
  • This therapy has proven effective and is also a simple technique.
  • Talk to your doctor or therapist to learn which imagery rehearsal therapy is best for you.
Cope with Nightmares Step 10
Cope with Nightmares Step 10

Step 2. Write down the nightmare you had

Remember your nightmare when you were awake and write it down like a story. Try to write down the narrative and detailed side of the dream as best you can.

  • Don't be afraid to remember bad dreams. Keep your ultimate goal in mind when remembering it.
  • Write down your dream as honestly and accurately as possible.
Cope with Nightmares Step 11
Cope with Nightmares Step 11

Step 3. Make changes

Take charge and rewrite the part of the nightmare you want. Turn the negative aspects of your nightmares into positive ones. By rebuilding the nightmare, you will eliminate the main mental cause of the dream. Try to change the things below:

  • Change the ending to be positive
  • Change the overall theme
  • Changing the place where the story takes place in the dream
  • Change any details you want
Cope with Nightmares Step 12
Cope with Nightmares Step 12

Step 4. Picture the new script in your mind

Imagine the nightmare actively while you are still awake, of course with the addition of the script you made. Doing a dream rehearsal will help you replace the bad dream into a new, positive narrative.

  • Do this therapy at least once a day for a few minutes.
  • Doing therapy repeatedly can increase its effectiveness.


  • You don't live alone. Nightmares are common and experienced by 80-90% of people during their lifetime.
  • In most cases, a counselor or psychologist will help you deal with nightmares.
  • Try to remember what you heard in the dream. The sound could be coming from something in your house.
  • As childish as it may sound, installing a small night light near the bed can increase comfort.
  • Nightmares are not a bad sign, you don't need to be afraid that something will happen to the people you meet in them.
  • Nightmares are not reality. If you need reassurance, talk to a trusted friend, parent, or relative and make a joke out of the dream.


  • Nightmares can interfere with sleep or healthy rest. Go to the doctor if it lasts for too long.
  • If you have nightmares more than once per week, talk to your doctor.

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