What are nightmares?

Most of us have experienced a nightmare at some time in our life. They can happen at any age, though are most common in children. Technically, nightmares are distressing, disturbing dreams that wake us from our sleep. They can be very vivid and realistic or bizarre and nonsensical. People tend to wake from their nightmares feeling scared, anxious, and upset. At times people can be fearful of going back to sleep or develop a fear of going to sleep each night if the nightmares are frequent. Frequent and repetitive nightmares can also significantly disrupt sleep and cause problems with waking life such as fatigue, problems with concentrating, and changes in mood.

Common causes

Some nightmares don’t have a known cause, in other cases the cause can be related to the following:

  • Traumatic or stressful events
  • Drug use, including some medications
  • Changes in environment and sense of safety
  • Mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD.
  • Physical injury or health issues.

Self-Management Tips, and Strategies

  • Make sure you have good sleep habits
  • Relax and wind down before bed
  • Introduce relaxation strategies such as controlled breathing
  • Set a regular sleep and wake routine.
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine in the lead up to bedtime.
  • Reduce daytime stress
  • Speak with your doctor and get help for any known related cause.

When can a Psychologist help?

Whilst we all experience nightmares at some point in our lives, when they become persistent and start to impact on your sleep and usual daily activity then it might be time to seek help. Psychologists can help you address any related issues or events that may be causing the nightmares.  They can also help you learn to control and potentially eliminate the nightmares. Our team is ready to help when you need to regain control of your dreams and return to living a full life. You can book online here, give us a call on (02) 4625 3339 or email us at admin@innerspacepsych.com.au.

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