How do I stop night terrors

Getting Rid of Nightmares - What To Do? The best tips

What to do about nightmares This is how you can find restful sleep again!

An oppressive feeling of fear, racing heart, shortness of breath, inner restlessness: everyone is startled from sleep bathed in sweat. These are the cause of these nighttime panic attacks nightmareswhich can be tormenting for the dreaming. Those affected can usually remember this very well even when they are awake. So what can be done to escape this invisible maze? We'll show you techniques and tricks with which you can literally take the horror away from nightmares.

Nightmares: as old as humanity

Our Germanic ancestors had a clear mythological answer as to why people suffer from fear inducing dreams. They believed that albums, i. H. certain dwarfs or elves, put on the chest of sleeping people and instill horror in them. This is how the Teutons explained the disturbing feeling of fear and the tightness in the chest that is often felt in nightmares. Because they press on the chest of those affected, they are also referred to as silencers. The English term "nightmare" also goes back to this idea, because Nachtmahren is nothing but a synonym for the said albums.

Even the term "nightshade plants" for a family of plants goes back, according to tradition, to nightmares. Because the nightshade that sneaks in through keyholes or cracks in the wall and torments people is another synonym for the nightmare. Nightshade plants such as deadly nightshade (lat. Atropa), Black henbane (lat. Hyoscyamus niger), Bittersweet nightshade (lat. Solanum dulcamara) and black nightshade (lat. Solanum nigrum) were considered an integral part of magic and healing mixtures in the Middle Ages, which were supposed to drive away the nightshade, i.e. the nightmares.

What are nightmares?

Nightmares usually occur during the so-called REM sleep phase (REM = engl. rapid eye movement = heavy eye rolling). This sleep phase is characterized by strong and rapid eye movements and deep muscle relaxation. Blood pressure and pulse increase; In the sleep laboratory, researchers recognize this phase from the clear brain wave pattern.

In adults, 20 to 25% of sleep occurs as REM sleep each night, and these are recurring phases. In the second half of the night, the number and length of this sleep phase increase. During the REM sleep phase, people dream particularly often, intensely, visually and characterized by emotional content.

Newborns experience about nine hours of this sleep phase per day, up to the age of nine the duration drops to about three hours per night. This explains, at least in part, why nightmares appear in the second half of the night in most people and are common in children in particular.

Nightmares frighten and panic those affected and wake them up. A “nightmare classic” is the “fall dream”: The dreaming falls into the depths and wakes up shortly before the impact.

At the Canadian Université de Montréal, the two dream researchers Geneviève Robert and Antonio Zadra determined the most common themes in nightmares using the dream diaries of 331 test subjects plagued by nightmares:

  • 49% of nightmares are about physical attacks.
  • 21% treat mental attacks and injuries like cheating or being abandoned.
  • 17% feel helpless in their nightmare or suffer from fear of failure.
  • 9% are tormented by illness, fear of death or the loss of a loved one.
  • Other motives appear less often. These include sudden and unfounded fear of being hunted, being paralyzed, running late, accidents, insects or the feeling of an evil presence.

What is surprising about the results of the Canadian researchers, however, is that the “classic case” only plays a role in 1.5% of the dreaming.

A special form of nightmare is the so-called pavor nocturnus or aftermath. The pavor nocturnus is characterized by a sudden awakening from sleep in a state of great excitement, often accompanied by panicked screaming. The special thing is that those affected usually cannot remember the dream. In contrast to the "normal" nightmare, the night terrors usually occur during NREM sleep (non-REM sleep, sleep in which the sleeper does not show REM).

Experts refer to negative dreams that do not lead to awakening as "bad" dreams. Here, too, those affected often feel tired, bruised and depressed the morning after. But when these negative dreams develop into a permanent state, quality of life and health suffer similarly to constant nightmares.


Causes of Nightmares

Dream research has long been concerned with the subject of "nightmares". A tried and tested tool for a better understanding of the phenomenon are twin studies. For example, a large-scale study in Finland has shown that the predisposition to negative dreams can be inherited. If an identical twin has nightmares, the other twin is more likely to be affected than is the case with an identical twin or sibling. The reasons for waking up at night full of fear cannot be limited to genetics, as the following overview shows typical nightmare causes:

  • Genetic predisposition: It's not just the twin study that proves that genetics play a role. Prof. Dr. Michel Schredl points to an American study that shows that very empathetic, creative and sensitive people who are difficult to differentiate themselves from stress are often affected. These personality traits are also partly inherited.
  • Stress and pressure to perform: A current study by the Central Institute for Mental Health shows that students suffer more often from nightmares in phases of increased stress.
  • Sustaining factors: There's not just nightmarecauses; science also knows Factorsthat support the recurrence of oppressive dreams. This includes avoidance behavior for things / situations that burden you. This is for example the fear of spiders, elevators or great heights. In the first moment the evasive behavior may reduce the fear, but in the long term it is not a solution and can favor further negative dreams.
  • Traumatic experiences: Life-threatening or traumatic events such as childhood abuse, traffic accidents or war missions also trigger nightmares in many of those affected, which can also occur years later. A study by Wood et al. As a result, experiencing trauma doubles the likelihood of nightmares. This then reflects the dramatic experience.
  • Physical causes: Serious physical illnesses like cancer can also lead to nightmares.
  • Medication: The use of various medications can also have a negative effect on healthy sleep. This applies in particular to preparations that intervene in the brain metabolism (e.g. antidepressants or drugs against epilepsy).
  • Media consumption of violence, terror and co .: In fact, some people react with nightmares when they e.g. B. have seen a horror movie or read a gripping thriller. Because the same brain regions are active in the brain, regardless of whether you imagine something or experience something real. With real experience, there are additional active areas of the brain, but basically the content is represented, which can have a negative effect on biochemical processes. This is especially true for information that is received in an everyday trance in which one is fully absorbed in the action, for example in the cinema. Since it has been proven that the thoughts that predominate in the waking state are usually only processed a few days later in the dream, many unfortunately do not want to admit this connection due to ignorance of the so-called dream delay effect. Nightmares based on this usually occur only once or for a very short time and go away on their own.

How common are nightmares?

No one is completely spared from nightmares, but the frequency of occurrence varies greatly. According to Prof. Dr. Michael Schredl (Scientific Director of the Sleep Laboratory at the Central Institute for Mental Health in Mannheim) around 5% of the population suffer from the terrifying, depressing dream images at night.

Women seem to be affected more often than men between childhood and advanced adulthood. One explanation justifies this with the fact that women can remember their dreams more easily. Most often, nightmares occur in children. Most of them at least sporadically suffer from it, especially between the ages of three and six. Even after that, nightmares are not uncommon in children.

Between the ages of six and ten, night ghosts are one of the everyday fears of the little ones. In some children, however, this phase can be more intense and problematic - especially if they develop severe panic about the dark and falling asleep. In terms of developmental psychology, nightmares in children are completely normal and usually harmless, as they serve to process experiences that toddlers cannot yet take place on a cognitive level and, on the other hand, are often nocturnal images of children's fantasies. Above all, it is important for parents to realize the importance of the fears from a child's point of view and to support the child in a loving and caring manner.

The psychological dimension of nightmares

Psychologists often see dreams as expressions of the subconscious. The best-known theory for this comes from the Austrian psychologist and founder of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud (1856 - 1939), who described dreams on the one hand as "nightly madness" and on the other hand as the "royal road to the unconscious". After his work "The Interpretation of Dreams" (1900), dream analysis became an essential part of psychoanalysis. For Freud, dreams reveal unconscious or unacknowledged wishes of the dreamer and his associated fears, which are particularly intense in nightmares.

Freud differentiated between latent and manifest dream contents. The manifest, actually remembered contents show the desires in a distorted form, as they are made by the unconscious, e.g. B. due to a repression of forbidden sexual desires, censored and masked. For Freud, dream interpretation is about understanding the latent contents hidden behind the alienated dream symbols, i. H. to fathom the true meaning of dreams in order to resolve the conflict between desires and fears.

The second important pioneer in the field of psychological dream interpretation is the Swiss psychiatrist, Freud's student and founder of analytical psychology Carl Gustav Jung, for whom dream interpretation was a focus of his work. For C.G. Not only did the individual unconscious play a role in Jung's expression of dreams, but also the collective unconscious defined by him as a store of archetypes. The so-called archetypal images, which are inherent in every human being from birth, represent the collective and universal experiences and emotions of our ancestors. For example, an easily accessible image is the mother archetype.

Jung also made a distinction between insignificant dreams, which merely served to process experiences from everyday life, and significant dreams in the form of archetypal, precognitive, compensatory, repetitive dreams.

Archetypal dreams illustrate personal "individuation", i.e. the development of personality, using symbols with a collective meaning.

Precognitive dreams anticipate an event that actually occurs later in a certain way and, in the case of nightmares, can be understood as a warning signal from the soul to change something in life.

Compensatory dreams form a kind of counter-world to the dreamer's often unconscious properties or attitudes in order to create a mental balance, for example by making an anxious person appear particularly aggressive. Such dream contents can also turn into nightmares due to their strange nature.

Repetitive dreams mainly have the function of finding a solution to repetitive personal psychological problems.

Interpret nightmares

While Freud's dream analysis was mainly based on his own theory of the human psyche, which also placed a clear emphasis on the sexual nature of man with regard to dreams, modern dream interpretation leaves this fixation on sexual urges and needs behind and offers those seeking help today an extensive catalog of possible interpretations of dream images and symbols - often based on the Jungian understanding that these illuminate the current life situation of the dreamer. The problem is that there are now almost as many interpretive approaches as dream lexicons.

For a serious interpretation, the personal story of the dreamer, his cultural background and his way of getting a picture of the world must always be taken into account. In addition, all symbols that appear in the dream must be considered in their combination. The following exemplary nightmare meanings can therefore only be an inspiration for developing your own creative approaches to understanding dream experiences.

Nightmares meaning

  • "drown": Drowning dreams can be an indication of excessive emotions. Metaphorically speaking, water stands for our feelings and drowning stands for the sinking of the psyche in its emotional world. Likewise, water can stand for unconsciousness. So it is about a threatening lack of rationality, reason or awareness. Also the feeling of having to take on too much work or too much responsibility can symbolically reveal itself through drowning in a dream.
  • "Ghosts": Ghosts represent past experiences that have not yet been released. Nightmares with ghosts or ghosts often indicate feelings of guilt. Likewise, suppressed aggression can lead to the appearance of ghosts in the dream.
  • "Fall": Nightmares in which one falls can have many causes. So they can be a sign of basic real life problems, such as: B. Insecurity, low self-confidence, strong doubts or fear of failure. People who want to control everything and are afraid of losing control or who find it difficult to surrender and trust themselves in life, a situation or a person can have fear-inducing dream dreams as well as people who have unrealistic desires and are not sufficiently grounded. Excessive sexual demands can also be symbolized by a case.
  • "To be trapped": Nightmares about being trapped or imprisoned, such as in a prison or cage, can indicate that you want to punish yourself for an illicit desire or act that you have committed. In addition, they can also be a sign that you feel restricted or blocked in your development or your personal freedom.
  • "to be paralyzed": Nightmares of paralysis either represent a mental rigidity that has to be given up, or a belief that being unable to act in a certain situation. Also the unconscious conviction not to progress in life, not to develop further, can show up in the dream as inability to move.
  • "Nudity": Naked and exposed dreams can quickly turn into nightmare as shame is one of the most basic human emotions. The word shame comes from a stem that means shame. Hardly any injury is as painful for the psyche as the violation of the intimate sphere, since it is equated with a loss of reputation and honor and thus also endangers the position of the individual in society. The embarrassment of being naked stands for a subjectively felt existential failure or inadequacy that attracts attention in the dream. Nude dreams can also be triggered by a fear of not being taken seriously or of being laughed at. People who have problems with the appearance of their bodies can dream of being naked in public as well as people who feel that they are not properly understood, that they are not noticed, or that pretend to be excessive or compulsive in front of certain people or in certain situations have to, for example, to hide their vulnerability or weakness. The people who see you naked usually represent your own personality parts, from which you want to close yourself off.Those who bare themselves in a dream often have an unconscious longing to redefine their self-image.
  • "Natural disasters": Natural disasters represent the instinctual nature that is directed against you in a catastrophic way if it is overly suppressed and not acted out appropriately.
  • "Death": Hardly any other subject is fraught with so many fears as death, which is why death dreams so often appear like a nightmare. Death as a dream symbol stands more for a new beginning than for an end. Such dreams are about fundamental changes in life, about the beginning of a new phase of life, about personal or spiritual growth or a deep transformation of emotions.
  • "To be followed": To flee in a dream because you are being chased or chased can be an indication that you do not want to face an unpleasant situation in real life and escape from it. Persecution nightmares can also indicate misconceptions or no longer conducive emotions. Here it is particularly important to grasp the symbolism of the persecutor, since he pursues the dreaming in order to get attention.
  • "Lose teeth": Tooth loss is one of the widespread dream experiences. This can be an indication that you lack self-confidence or assertiveness, that you lead yourself helplessly, that too much aggression or sexual fears have built up, that a change in your life worries you or that you are afraid of it Got older. If tooth loss nightmares occur during (upcoming) dental treatment or in connection with toothache, it is usually an intensive psychological processing of this topic.

The spiritual dimension of nightmares

Many spiritual, philosophical or esoteric world views, from anthroposophy to Christian mysticism to the yogic tradition of Hinduism, know other subtle or energetic dimensions in addition to the material dimension. The best-known, albeit differently defined, dimension is the astral world, with which man is connected via his astral body (also known as soul dress) and into which he often goes in dreams when the soul is detached from the body. Of course, it would be dubious to equate all the different belief systems here. What it is about is merely the recognition of an invisible world, as it was already mentioned in the section on shamanic dreaming.

To get rid of nightmares, it is helpful to use a mental construct that the astral plane represents an area bordering on physical reality, which can be divided into lower or lower and higher astral planes. The lower astral plane is characterized by our lower urges, our selfish needs and our negative feelings that are rooted there. At this level, z. B. on the deceased who do not give up their incarnation and want to go into the "light", evil spirits, demons and other beings who are not well-disposed towards people. The higher the astral sphere, the more positive and pure are the emotions that predominate there. In high levels one can meet loving astral beings such as light beings or angels. As long as one moves in the astral cosmos, one is therefore still subject to the duality of joy and sorrow.

If the soul travels to the lower worlds in sleep, we can perceive this as a nightmare, depending on what we experienced there. This can be avoided by using various techniques. On the one hand, it is important to look at and overcome negative feelings such as envy, hatred, anger or fear, which make us receptive to night journeys into the spheres in which these “bad” vibrations prevail. On the other hand, we can open ourselves to higher spheres through spiritual work, for example by developing communication with our guardian angel, our higher self or guiding our spirit and asking them to guide us on our dream journeys. You can z. B. envelop in white or golden light before going to bed and close your aura with a mental command from the lower astral levels.

From a Christian point of view, nightmares can be understood as the work of the devil, who lures us into the lower realms of existence, but also as a gift from God who confronts us with our sins and wrongdoing without us being punished for it or simply the logical consequences have to experience it directly in physical reality. Job says: “In dreams, in the night face, when deep sleep falls on people, in slumber on the bed, there he opens people's ears and alarms them with warnings in order to dissuade people from his actions, arrogance to cast out from the man ”(Job 33: 15-17). Regardless of this, the Bible also points out that dreams can arise from psychological processes that should not be overestimated: “For where there is much worry, there will come dreams” (Ecclesiastes, 5: 2). Anyone who suffers from nightmares as a Christian can, for example, For example, meditate on Psalm 91, which says, “You need not fear the horror of the night” (Psalm 91: 5). The daily prayer of the “Our Father” before going to sleep is also a powerful spiritual tool against nightmares.

What to do about nightmares Strategies for a quiet night

If disturbing dreams keep you awake from sleep, you can actively do something about it. This applies to both adult and child nightmares. Research and medicine make it possible: There are now various methods that help those affected in the long term. The first step is always to be ready to look at the dream. The fear can only be resolved if you look directly at it. The second step is then to understand which real problems would like to come into consciousness and ask for a solution. The concentrated preoccupation with the nightmare alone often has a healing and liberating effect. So you shouldn't dismiss it with slogans like “dreams are foams” and ignore the nerve-wracking nightly experience cowardly or arrogantly.

The dream diary: learning to understand dreams

Anyone who suddenly wakes up from a nightmare is immediately wide awake and can clearly remember the dream. This is exactly what distinguishes the classic nightmare from a bad dream or the “night terrors”, which especially make smaller children scream. A good strategy is to keep a dream diary, with which you can gain the following insights:

  • Content of the negative dream
  • Frequency of nightmares

With this information, it is possible to specifically identify triggers such as stress or various fears. Sometimes it is just a small step to reduce the pressure with minimal changes or to relax by becoming aware of your fears and worries. Ideally, the dream diary should be kept in the present tense and in the first person singular. A sentence like, "I dream of desperately walking up a hill and a big aggressive dog chasing me," takes the distance from what I have experienced and makes it easier to visualize the dream again. The state of mind should also be described. And best of all right after waking up.

You can read the notes again later to add to the impressions. Some things only come back to you after a while. Child nightmares can be tackled in a similar manner. Children who have not yet learned to write can paint the worst moment of their dream. The image as a processing strategy also helps older children to deal with the fears of the night.

Fight the nightmare with behavior therapy

With the dream diary as a basis, nightmares can be combated. The following strategies are based on Imagery Rehersal Therapy (IRT) and are primarily aimed at adults:

  1. Confrontation: Suppressing a frightening situation only provides brief relief. Exam anxiety or the phobia of spiders does not improve with the act of avoidance. On the contrary: the panic of a fear-inducing situation increases in the long term. It is no different with nightmares. Therefore, those affected should deal with their dream while they are awake. So the disturbing images lose their horror and create the basis for step 2.
  2. Develop strategies: A dream does not have to be postulated and accepted as "unchangeable". You can think of an alternate course that doesn't make you feel scared. There are no limits to the imagination, because everything is possible in a dream. All frightening figures / situations should be removed as far as possible and replaced with pleasant or neutral ones. If the dream begins, for example, with a walk in the forest and a cracking branch indicates a pursuer, the crack should already be replaced. Instead, a bird can sink or the wind rustling in the leaves.
  3. Practice and apply strategy: Once a strategy for the frightening dream has been found, it must be practiced in the waking state. At least once a day, preferably at a fixed time, you imagine the new dream. Live the dream step by step in a quiet environment and without distraction. So the brain exercises the alternative dream scheme and corrects the areas that still need to be changed for the better. It is important that the well-being is maintained throughout the dream, the action is perceived as fluid, logical and realistic. Especially with long dreams, it is helpful to write down the dream story and have a reference person read it to you. You can also read the story yourself, record it and listen to it once a day for a period of 1-2 weeks. The nightmares should then go away completely or at least subside significantly.

The shamanic way of dreaming to transform nightmares

If you find it difficult to transform the dream images you have experienced due to strong attachment, you can try a similar technique from the shamanic art of dreaming to withdraw the negative energy from the nightmare, which leads to the fact that your everyday consciousness is weakened by dream events for days because the experiences are burned into the awareness as if they were a real experience. Because for shamans the dream reality, which is also referred to as the second, invisible or non-everyday reality, is actually the real reality of existence, from which the consensus reality, which we consider normal, arises in the first place. The Australian Aborigines speak of the dreamtime or dreamtime as the "ongoing presence of creation".

Such a view is also encountered in the famous books by the American anthropologist and writer Carlos Castaneda about his experiences with the Indian medicine man and magician Don Juan Matus. In it don Juan says: "You analyze the meaning of dreams, you take them as omen, but nobody understands them as a sphere of real events."

In a simplified version that is accessible to us humans with a western worldview, with this technique the dreams are simply continued to dream to a good end. That means, you can leave the dream as it was, but then dream it further, so that there is a "happy ending". There are no limits to creativity in this process either. It makes sense to really take time for yourself for this work and to put yourself in a meditative state in which you can appreciate this different reality as something real without prejudice and purposefully transform it through your imagination with inner processes of thinking and feeling.

It is best to lie down relaxed, come to rest, let go of everyday life, set the firm intention to redesign your reality, and then dream the dream again, with the difference that it continues until the horror turns out to be an illusion or turns out to be a blessing. Those who seriously practice this method often benefit from this form of reality design on other levels too, in which the intention is in particular that one truly transforms one's own reality on the causal level.

Post-traumatic nightmares are different

Dreaming people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) repeatedly experience real situations in their sleep that have put them in fear of death. This forces them to integrate the traumatic experience. The Imagery Rehersal Therapy (IRT) can take place here in a slightly modified form. To avoid flashbacks and panic attacks, the following changes are recommended:

  • At the beginning it is essential to mentally create a safe space. A therapist can be of great help here. The safe place allows the person concerned to quickly get out of the situation if memories overwhelm them.
  • The reconstruction of the nightmare takes place distantly in the past and in the third person. Instead of saying, "I see ...", the phrase "He / She saw ..."
  • The approach to the dream must be gradual and cautious. The modification of the dream event is only complete when the new dream story no longer triggers fear or negative associations.

In the case of nightmares as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder, the support of experienced psychologists or psychotherapists is essential. Contemporary and promising therapeutic approaches for the treatment of PTSD are z. B. “Somatic Experiencing” as a body-oriented form of trauma therapy that focuses on the physical reactions felt by those affected, as well as EMDR (Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), in which trauma occurs in eight phases, particularly with the help of bilaterally changing sensory stimuli how certain eye movements (similar to those of REM sleep) are treated.

Nightmares in children

Basically, parents and their children can treat nightmares with Imagery Rehersal Therapy. The children paint their dream and add objects or helper figures to the picture, who control the stressful situation. The nightmare can also be thematized and processed in a (role) play. Linguistic interpretation or explanation is not an appropriate tool for children with nightmares. It is important that the ideas for solving the problem are developed by the child himself, if possible. The aids can be of a fantastic nature, such as For example, a magic wand or a dragon keeping the enemy at bay. The goal: The child should believe in his power and the possibilities of his solution strategy. In addition, parents can support their children with the following measures:

  • When children awaken from a nightmare, they need comfort. “It was just a dream” is well-intentioned advice that is of little help to a child. The little ones cannot differentiate between dream and reality. Therefore, it makes sense to look together in the closet or under the bed for fear-inducing monsters or witches in order to give the child the feeling of security.
  • Body contact helps many children to find their center again.
  • For traumatized children with persistent nightmares, it is advisable to consult an adolescent psychologist or psychotherapist.

Self-help tips against nightmares

There are several other scientifically proven and effective methods so that you can sleep peacefully and restfully at night. To avoid nightmares, good sleep hygiene is primarily important. Sleep hygiene means the external circumstances that promote restful sleep or even make it possible in the first place.

  • The bedroom should be quiet and dark. For many people, a temperature between 10 and 18 degrees Celsius is ideal for sleeping. Important to note: There are warm and cold sleepers. Well-being should therefore provide the framework.
  • A sleep ritual helps to switch off. Some pleasant music, a few pages of a good book, a glass of warm milk - anything relaxing is allowed. A bedtime story helps children.
  • After an emotionally disturbing film, a heated discussion or a strenuous undertaking, a certain amount of buffer time is important. You should first come to rest and only lie down later.
  • The bed should be a haven of rest and relaxation. Disputes or brooding attacks have no place here.
  • Alcohol, caffeinated drinks and cigarettes as well as hearty meals should be avoided four to six hours before going to bed.
  • Sport makes you tired, drains you and stimulates the release of hormones, which, depending on the intensity of the sport, can have a negative effect on sleep. For this reason, physical activity just before bedtime is not recommended.
  • If you have trouble falling asleep, it is sometimes helpful to get up and only go back to bed when you have achieved the necessary rest and relaxation as well as sufficient "bed heaviness".

Meditation, relaxation and mindfulness against nightmares

Stress and pressure to perform cause nightmares for many people. Therefore, it is important to be mindful of your body and mind. Scheduling that allows you to take a deep breath in between helps to cope with or at least reduce stress. Various relaxation techniques increase well-being and ensure inner peace.

  • Progressive muscle relaxation and autogenic training, for example, are two easy-to-learn methods. The exercises help to actively switch the nervous system to regeneration and recovery.
  • Yoga and meditation achieve similar effects when it comes to mindfulness and restoring inner balance.

In order to learn the necessary techniques and counteract stress and nightmares, numerous courses are offered nationwide. Many statutory health insurance companies subsidize the costs of autogenic training or progressive muscle relaxation according to Jacobson.
After practicing the relaxation routine, progressive muscle relaxation and autogenic training are very suitable as support measures for falling asleep. Progressive muscle relaxation can be performed sitting or lying on your back. A comfortable posture is important for success; nothing should press or disturb. Then the muscles can gradually be relaxed.

First the muscles are tensed slightly and then consciously loosened. With increasing relaxation, the arms and legs feel heavy - the better blood circulation creates a pleasant feeling of warmth. It is always easier to let your thoughts wander and find inner peace. There is a set routine for progressive muscle relaxation. This begins with closed eyes on the dominant hand and on the dominant forearm - right-handers start on the right side, left-handers on the left. The dominant upper arm follows. Now it goes on through the whole body:

  • non-dominant hand and non-dominant forearm
  • not dominant upper arm
  • forehead
  • eyes
  • jaw
  • Neck and neck
  • Shoulders and chest
  • belly
  • dominant thigh
  • dominant lower leg with foot
  • not dominant thigh
  • non-dominant lower leg with foot

After the relaxation routine, a feeling of calm and serenity is established, which increases with each exercise unit. The process of falling asleep is becoming more and more problematic. The relaxation technique also helps to take a little break in everyday life and to gain some strength for a few minutes. The mental serenity ensures a lower susceptibility to stress and strengthens the body and mind. To gently find your way back to the here and now, end the exercise slowly and gradually. After an internal countdown, you begin to stretch your body. Only then are the eyes opened. Abruptly stopping the exercise is very uncomfortable and can lead to circulatory problems if the blood pressure is low.

Lucid dreams as a remedy for nightmares

Lucid dreams are also referred to as “lucid dreaming”. The term implies that while dreaming the sleeper is aware that he is dreaming. The ability to dream lucidly is considered to be innate. Some people just know in their sleep that they are dreaming. This means that even in the event of a nightmare, they can actively intervene in what is happening, e.g. B. end the dream, change the plot directly and thereby take away the horror effect of the nightmare. But even people who were not born with this ability can certainly learn this technique - in the following way:

  • Every evening at bedtime and before going to sleep, you should remind yourself to consciously perceive dreams as such during the night. This thought should become a fixed ritual. It can take weeks or even months before a noticeable change occurs, so: be patient.
  • In order to clearly see whether what you have just experienced happens when you are awake or asleep, it is important to incorporate reality checks. In dreams, texts can often not be understood, they either make no sense or change when they are read repeatedly. Clocks often do not show the normal time and electrical devices often do not work. The regular checking of such facts in everyday life creates the necessary routine to do the check even in dreams. The next step is to try to control the normal dream in your sleep. For example, if you regularly dream of driving to work, you can take a different route this time or simply change the destination of the trip. Here, too, patience is required.
  • If you perceive neutral dreams as lucid dreams and their course can be changed, you can - with the same scheme - turn to the nightmares and turn them into a normal and not frightening story.

Preventing nightmares with a dream intention

Those who go to bed with good thoughts also increase the likelihood of sweet dreams. An established technique is setting a concrete intention for the dream. There are two excellent approaches to this, depending on what you want to dream. On the one hand, you can picture a beautiful dream and dream it consciously when you go to bed. People who are z. B. work with the power of attraction, use the time before going to sleep, for example, specifically to fulfill wishes.

In the transition phase from wakefulness to sleep, the brain waves slow down. One goes from the beta state (15-38 Hz), which goes hand in hand with normal waking consciousness and is characterized by increased attention to the external world, into an alpha state (8-15 Hz), in which the inner experience, mental images and relaxation are in the foreground. During this time the subconscious is very receptive to programming with visualizations and affirmations. So one can go to bed with the intention of dreaming of the fulfillment of one's wishes.

On the other hand, one can also go to bed with the intention of dreaming of a creative solution to a personal task, an innovative idea or an answer to a question. This technique was formerly known as temple sleep, and is now sometimes called dream incubation. To do this, before going to bed, one deals extensively with the topic about which one hopes to get information in the dream. You contemplate everything you already know about the topic, look at it from different perspectives, analyze and fantasize equally and think only about this topic before falling asleep, in a constructive and holistic way. In this way one “incubates” the dream. However, to avoid nightmares, these topics should not be conflicted or emotionally charged in any negative way.

Bach flowers against nightmares

Another way to take action against nightmares is to use Bach flowers. Rescue drops are recommended as an acute remedy for immediate use after a nightmare. This Bach flower mixture has proven to be very effective, as the 5 essences it contains take into account all psychologically relevant aspects of a nightmare: The Bach Flower Rock Rose counteracts acute fears, which can be seen as the main cause and symptom of nightmares. The Bach Flower Star of Bethlehem gives comfort to the soul in the event of tremors and unprocessed emotional shocks. The Bach flower clematis helps to get back to the here and now after the nightmare. The Bach flower Impatiens turns against the restlessness after waking up and the Bach Flower Cherry Plum against the difficult to control feelings that the nightmare forces into consciousness.

For further therapeutic work with Bach flowers in nightmares, you should orientate yourself on the dream content when choosing suitable flower remedies. Since not all possible scenarios can be exercised at this point, it is worthwhile to study the effects of all 38 Bach flowers in more detail. If the nightmares are based on specific fears, you can work with Mimulus Bach flowers, for example, and for fears for no apparent reason, you can work with Aspen Bach flowers. If a feeling of inferiority turns out to be the latent content of the nightmares, you can take Larch Bach flowers. Or, if the nightmares are triggered by feelings of guilt, Pine Bach flowers. In practice it has also been shown, for example, that the psyche often causes nightmares to raise awareness of worries, which the person concerned denies and plays over, especially to the outside world. If you can identify with this topic, try Agrimony Bach flowers against nightmares.

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Healing Herbs Bach Flower Night Globules, 15 g
  • Original Bach flower mixture with the six classic English Bach flowers
  • Agrimony, Cherry Plum, Impatiens, Vervain, Walnut, and White Chestnut
  • Scatter balls with Bach flower essences
  • 15 g globules
  • non-alcoholic; therefore also suitable for children