Why Do I Keep Having Nightmares?

Plagued by scary dreams? We’re here to help.

Do you often wake up in a cold sweat? Are you having recurring bad dreams about an upsetting or traumatic event you experienced in your past? Do you spend hours staring at the ceiling, scared to go to sleep in case you end up in a nightmare world?

Nightmares don’t just affect small children who are worried about monsters hiding under their beds – bad dreams can cause a lot of distress and anxiety for adults, too. If you’re affected by nightmares or night terrors, you’ll know all too well how terrifying (and tiring) bad dreams can be.

Why Do I Get Nightmares?

There are many possible causes of nightmares and night terrors. They’re often triggered by anxiety or stress but can also be caused by certain medical conditions, such as migraines, depression, and restless leg syndrome. If you’ve suffered a traumatic experience, this can be a trigger for nightmares. Some types of medicine (antidepressants, for example) can also cause nightmares. 

How To Cope With Nightmares

Constant bad dreams can leave you feeling tired, anxious, and depressed. You may even feel silly or ‘babyish’ for feeling frightened but there’s no need to feel embarrassed. Bad dreams can be incredibly vivid and distressing, affecting people of all ages, not just young children. Don’t suffer in silence – reach out and talk to someone you trust today to get support.

Things You Can Do At Home:

  1. Make your bedroom as comfortable and relaxing as possible. You can find tips on creating the ultimate snooze space here.

Try a meditation or breathing exercise before going to bed. Having a nightlight by your bedside or playing quiet background music can help to make you feel more safe and secure.

  1. Keep a book or magazine by your bedside to read whenever you wake from a bad dream. This can help to distance your mind from the scary nightmare and make it fade into memory.
  1. Keep a worry journal. This is your private safe space to write down the worries and stresses you carry in your head. Getting these out onto paper before going to sleep can help to clear your mind which reduces the likelihood of anxiety dreams.
  1. Ever heard the old wives’ tale, “Eating cheese before bedtime gives you bad dreams”? Well, there’s some truth to this, but let’s not point the finger squarely at dairy. Eating any foods late in the evening can affect your sleep so try to have a snack or supper 2-3 hours before you hit the hay.
  1. Avoid scary or tense movies before bedtime. Sounds obvious but watching scary stuff right before you close your eyes… well, it’s not a great idea. The same goes for watching disturbing news or upsetting content. Do yourself a favour and switch it off or put on a feel-good, happy film.

Getting More Help:

If repetitive nightmares are negatively impacting your life, make an appointment with your doctor. Tell your GP how your dreams are affecting your sleeping pattern and talk about how this makes day-to-day life more difficult. Your doctor can prescribe medication to treat anxiety or can refer you to counselling for support.


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