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10 ways to conquer adult nightmares and get better sleep
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10 ways to conquer adult nightmares and get better sleep

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10 ways to conquer adult nightmares and get better sleep

Journaling can help you release your anxieties.

We leave behind our fears of monsters under the bed as we say goodbye to our childhoods, but one can follow us into adulthood and loom over our heads.

Nightmares are more common in childhood, but anywhere from 50% to 85% of adults report having occasional nightmares.

Almost everyone can experience nightmares — and especially during the pandemic.

"With a combination of additional stress and safer-at-home orders, more people are struggling with nightmares," said Jennifer Martin, a professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, and member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine's board of directors.

If your days are filled with online school for the children, social distancing, masks and a daily death toll, isn't it no wonder adults are having nightmares at night?

"Dreams do usually incorporate things that happened during the day, leading some researchers to hypothesize that dreams and rapid eye movement sleep is essential for memory consolidation and cognitive rejuvenation," said Joshua Tal, a sleep and health psychologist based in Manhattan. "Nightmares are the mind's attempts at making sense of these events, by replaying them in images during sleep."

Nightmares are what the American Academy of Sleep Medicine call "vivid, realistic and disturbing dreams typically involving threats to survival or security, which often evoke emotions of anxiety, fear or terror."

If someone has frequent nightmares — more than once or twice weekly — that cause distress or impairment at work or among people, he or she might have nightmare disorder. Treatments include medications and behavioral therapies.

Addressing frequent nightmares is important since they have also been linked to insomnia, depression and suicidal behavior. Since nightmares can also cause sleep deprivation, they are linked to heart disease and obesity as well.

Trying out these 10 steps could help you ease your nightmares and improve your sleep and quality of life.

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