First let’s look at some data on sleep. We spend one third of life sleeping! This is an important portion of our life. The studies so far have determined that our body and brain need this rest to recuperate physically and mentally.
Today’s scientists can now use sophisticated research instruments to understand the mysteries of mental functioning. Nevertheless, the functioning of the human brain is immensely complex and we still know very little.
In terms of mental recuperation, sleeping is a cleansing process, just like washing your dirty clothes. Sleeping flushes out the waste products just like a laundry machine.
Moreover, dreams helps the brain to sort out all the information that your were exposed to during the day. Therefore, the brain region responsible for memory decides what to keep and what to discard.
Now let’s look at the nightmares. Anxiety seems to be the main cause of these nasty dreams. Anything that worries you could become the trigger for nightmares.
Most people have nightmares once in a while whether because of an extremely emotional event in the past or a future event they dread to experience. For example, someone told me that he had nightmares for several nights after he watched how they washed the body of his father and prepare it for burial. A future event such as an exam or appearance at a court trial can also cause nightmares.
Therefore, at a both biological and psychological level, we need to experience nightmares. A bad dream is a necessary phenomenon. It prepares us to better face daily fears as well as acting as a discharge!
However, recurrent nightmares become a nuisance. They can even cause anxiety during the day since some people have flash backs of the dream during the day.
Here are two ways to stop regular nightmares:
1) Every night, siting or lying in bed, at your sleep time, imagine your recurrent nightmares. Start from the beginning of the nightmare but change the ending to a pleasant or funny one.
Act as if you were the director of a stage play. You are the director as well as the protagonist. Tell yourself how to act differently in order to have a happy ending.
Repeat this for seven nights. Each night change the setting the content of the nightmare. One night you can set the story in the ancient civilization (Greek, Egyptians, Aztecs, Romans, etc.). Another night see your nightmare as a comedy show.
2) You can also dedicate a time and space for writing out your nightmare. Set aside a time in the morning or in the afternoon. Sit at a desk in a room on your own. Make sure there are no distractions such as music, telephones, etc. Set an alarm clock for 30 minutes. Get few white papers and a pen. Begin to write out your nightmare in detail. Make sure you visualize as you write all the details of your dream. Feel free to get scared or cry as much as you want. Write and let the emotions flow.
Stay in the room and keep writing and feeling scared until the alarm goes off. Shut the alarm and stop writing. Tear the papers into small pieces and throw them away. Get out of the room and wash your face with cool water.
Practice this assignment for 7 days and let me know how it went.
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