Nightmares can be such a nightmare. If you or your kids have nightmares often here are some tips and tricks to help prevent nightmares from occurring and/or reoccurring.

What’s the difference between a nightmare and a night terror?

Nightmares typically occur in REM sleep while night terrors occur within the first 90 minutes of falling asleep. Night terrors can typically jolt you awake paired with screaming, sweating and increased blood pressure. Only about 4-5 percent of adults experience night terrors. As much as 85 percent of adults experience nightmares.

What causes nightmares?

Some common causes for nightmares are eating late at night, stress, anxiety, depression, sleep deprivation, sleep disorders and even some drugs.

How can I help prevent nightmares?

Leave at least two hours between eating and going to bed. As mentioned in sleep tip #1, eating before hitting the hay can have some negative effects on your sleep.Dr. Charles Bae, sleep medicine doctor at Sleep Disorders Center at the Cleveland Clinic said, eating snacks late at night can increase your body’s metabolism and temperature resulting in more dreams. Your brain will work much more during sleep if your metabolism is increased, and this is the time when your brain should be “resting.”

Stay away especially from candy bars right before bed. One study showed that 7 out of 10 individuals who ate junk food, candy bars included, were more likely to experience nightmares than those who don’t eat junk food.


Avoid spicy foods 2-3 hours before bedtime. Professor Tore Nielson director of the dream and nightmare lab at the Sacre-Coeur Hospital said, “…Some people might be sensitive to the chemical composition of certain foods.” This might be why some people have bad nightmares after eating spicy foods.

Relax your body and mind right before bed. It’s often hard for people to “turn their brain off,” but by just taking a few minutes before bed to relax and get into a zen mode it can help prevent your anxieties from becoming nightmares.

Don’t go to bed angry. You often hear don’t go to bed angry to keep your relationship in a good place, but it’s more than that. If you let yourself fall asleep angry this may trigger nightmares.


Are nightmares still occurring?

If you or your child still experience nightmares here are a few tips that will help them from “haunting” you or your child during the day:
1.) As you are falling asleep influence your dreams by telling yourself how the dream to end. An article on said, “Remind yourself, if you have a dream about x, you want the ending to be y.”
2.) Talk about the nightmare from beginning to end to someone who is willing to listen and support you.
3.) For children, rescript the nightmare. Change the story to something safe and pleasant.

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