If you’ve experienced some stressful times recently whether that’s been work-related, in your relationships, or simply due to your daily newsfeed—chances are you’ve had some stressful dreams as well. It’s common to have feelings of tension from your waking life carried forward into your dream time; known as stress dreams.
Stress dreams aren’t a problem in and of themselves, but rather are a symptom of your waking hour worries. In fact, research shows that there are two keys to combatting stress dreams and enjoying a peaceful and restorative sleep:
#1 Reduce your incidence of nighttime waking—since you only remember a stressful dream if you wake during it and can’t easily fall back to sleep again.
#2 Proactively manage your daytime stress—and work to return balance to your mind and body throughout your day.
Here are our top tips on how can you start to take control of your stress dreams and look forward to a slumber that leaves you feeling rested and calm (instead of frazzled and exhausted):
Improve Your Sleep Hygiene
Quality sleep is one of the best things you can do for your wellbeing and committing to making it a priority will tip the balance of your wellness equation. Plus, anything that improves your sleep quality will also reduce the number of dreams you remember. Take a stocktake of your current sleep habits and make adjustments like escorting screens out of the bedroom, incorporating meditation or white noise, and maintaining the same bedtime every day. Steps like these can reduce your nighttime waking, and help those stress dreams fade away.
Create a Smart Wind Down Routine
It’s tempting in the evenings to catch up on work, binge on that latest TV show, and then collapse exhausted (and wired) into bed. But encouraging the onset of a peaceful slumber starts hours before you get under the covers. Decide on a cut-off time for work and screens (ideally at least three hours after sunset) and enjoy some activities that calm and ground you: yoga, stretching, journaling, meditation, essential oils, or reading a good book in low lighting.
Put the Day’s Tensions to One Side
Tension and feeling out of balance are unwelcome sleeping partners—yet too often we take them to bed with us. Spend some time putting your daily tension to one side with things like journalling, a guided meditation, or inhale some aromatic scents. Get grounded with gratitude, deep breathing, a warm, steamy shower, or talk to a loved one about what’s on your mind.
Reduce Your Daytime Stress
Day-to-day events, as well as what you read and watch can all be incorporated into your stress dreams so try “crowding out” your daytime experiences with more wellness activities, some exercise, and information that uplifts you (instead of adding to your worries). You can also support your mind and body with stress circuit-breakers like carrying some natural, on-the-go, and calming aromas to use throughout your day.
If you’re experiencing a flood of stress dreams right now, don’t overthink them but instead, see them as an opportunity to make some small adjustments to your day and night routines and rituals and look forward to enjoying more good nights where you wake in the morning feeling revitalized and ready to tackle another day ahead.