Each night fills me with terror. Sleeping, which so many people seem to love, is one of my least favorite activities. Not only does it feel like a waste of time, it also brings awful nightmares.
Perhaps I am the villain one night, killing millions of people until everything around me is red. The next evening, a friend or coworker is kidnapping me. Almost worst are the nights when people tell me how they truly feel, how much they really hate me. Sometimes that is the hardest to hear.
For years, this battle with dreams has overwhelmed me. PTSD only makes it harder. I feel so scared, trapped, lost, abandoned, hopeless. These crippling feelings often linger throughout my whole day.
Combating nightmares for so long has taught me a few skills on how to fight them. These do not always work but are at least a few tools to get you started if you also struggle with bad dreams or night terrors.
- Listen to calming music in your sleep. Classical such as Mozart, softer artists such as Michael Buble or Josh Groban, or movie soundtracks often work the best for me. Having something too harsh, lyric-driven, or upbeat often enters into my dreams and becomes twisted.
- Stay awake for 10 minutes and rework your nightmares in the morning. This is what I usually have to do. Often, it leads to me struggling to get out of bed. However, this strategy is better than being traumatized the whole day.
- Sleep with soft blanket or stuffed animal. Childish, I know, but I truly find comfort in clinging to something whether I am sleeping or awake and crying.
- Read before sleep. Inspirational quotes, letters from loved ones, your favorite light-hearted book – do some reading that is not too serious before sleep.
- Go for a walk. If you are struggling after waking up from nightmares, go for a quick walk or jog. If you cannot do so outside because it is the middle of the night, do so in your room or house.
- Take a bath or shower before bed. This can help relax you. Sometimes even doing it after dreams can be beneficial in “washing away” the memories.
- Say a prayer or saying to yourself before sleeping. My mother likes to say the Rosary which is super repetitive. Other people might have a favorite quote or memorable song that could work.
- Have a loved one you can turn to. Set up a person that you can go to anytime for help. This can be a spouse, parent, sibling, friend, or even pet. Just having someone there can be very beneficial.
- Write out your nightmare. Then give it a new ending. Putting it out on paper can get it out of your head. Sometimes it even makes it feel less frightening.
- Drink tea, water, or milk before bed. Having a relaxing beverage at night helps my body to calm down and not stress as much. This seems to lead to less nightmares.
How do you conquer your nightmares? I would love to know.