Waking up in the middle of the night sweating with fear is no way to have a good night’s sleep. There are a surprising amount of reasons why people suffer bad dreams, some of which we’ll take you through in this article.
Food has been found as a big trigger behind nightmares and if you tuck into a snack or dinner late in the evening, you may find yourself sat up in bed at 3am after a fright. Lying down with a full stomach can cause acid reflux, which can disrupt sleep and cause discomfort subconsciously. Ideally you should stop eating as early as you can in the day and if you need some help nodding off into a soundless snooze, try sipping on a special tea for this purpose.
Alcohol and late night boozing could also be the reason you have a bad dream, as alcohol suppresses rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. This is the period during which a person dreams, and as your body starts to stabilise your dreams can come back in full throttle, and not always in a comforting manner.
Or perhaps you decided to stumble back to your friend’s house last minute after a night on the town. Waking up somewhere new or forgetting where you are can be extremely anxiety-inducing, which could lead to confusion in your dreams as well. Gulp lots of water before bed and make sure you’re aware of your surroundings before nodding off to prevent this from happening.
Stress as a whole plays a huge part in nightmares, with previous research noting that 71 to 96 per cent of people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) suffer from night terrors. Even the lead up to a big event or something that requires a lot of responsibility can fill us with dread and make us uneasy, this leading to a disruptive sleep. Some stress-beating tactics such as meditation could help put your mind at rest, or try wearing a bed mask and ear plugs to block out the world around you for a relaxing and quiet slumber.
If nightmares continue to persist, seek professional help as there may be more to it than meets the eye. Some medications that act on neurotransmitters, like anti-depressants, have been linked to nightmares too, so don’t let the problem go untreated.