Dreams Answers

How to get rid of dreams?

Dear Kate,   Thank you for your message and sharing.   I understand how difficult it is to try stopping your thoughts regarding your dreams. I could imagine how hard you have been trying and how frustrating to feel that nothing is working.    We can't stop our thoughts, but the more we practice being mindful of the present, the better we can catch ourselves with our thoughts and develop an alternative response to them, and learn to let go.   During moments like this I remind myself the teachings regarding worries, it is consisted with a 2 part questions:   1. Is this problem within my control? If so, then this problem will be solved given time and the right intervention. 2. Would worrying about it make any difference? If not, then is it worth it to sacrifice our time and mental health worrying over something that (1. can't be solved anyway / 2. will be solved anyway)?   This is definitely easier said than done, therefore as a fellow human being, I am working with you to pay attention to what is good, what is kind rather than our worries.   Obsessive or consuming thoughts can make living miserable when you are plagued by them, but this very situation can become the invitation to transcend mind and be free of suffering forever.   Can you stop obsessive thoughts? - If you could, it would be great, but the truth is that it's slightly more complicated than just suppressing your thoughts which at-most you can do for a few seconds. Plus suppressing thoughts is even worse than enduring thoughts. It builds up a lot of negative energy inside.   So how to stop these stops thoughts? The secret to stopping these thoughts is to detach from the mind because You cannot fight mind with the mind. Let's look at this in more detail.   What Causes Obsessive Thoughts?   If you generated the thoughts, you could've controlled them too.   The truth is that you don't generate thoughts, the mind does. And the mind is on auto-mode most of the time.   You can see this for yourself; can you predict what you will think 30 seconds from now? If you can't how can you assume that you are generating the thoughts?   If you believe that you are your mind, that's a false notion again.   If you are your mind then how can you observe the thoughts? So you must be separate from the mind to see what the mind is doing.   The mind generates thoughts, which are mostly just energy forms. These thoughts pass through like clouds. We identify with some of these thoughts and obsess over them.   So in truth, all thoughts are just neutral energy forms; it's your interest or association with the thoughts that makes them obsessive. If you can understand this truth, you have taken the first step towards getting rid of obsessive thoughts.   How to Stop Obsessive Negative Thoughts?   If you are asking this question, ask yourself another question - "is this question not another thought? It's a thought about killing thoughts".   All your attempts at suppressing and stopping thoughts fail because you are using the mind to stop the mind. The police man and thief are both the mind; so how can the police man catch the thief?   So you cannot kill the mind by force. The mind dies its own death by the poison of disassociation.   What gives power to a thought? - Your interest. If you have no interest in a particular thought then it loses its hold over you.   You can try this out now. Let the thoughts flow through your mind but don't take interest in them. Just stay as a bystander or a watcher and let the thoughts float.   Initially you might have a hard time watching thoughts because of your inherent habit of associating with each thought that arises.   It helps to know that you are not your thoughts, that thoughts are just energy forms created in the mind. Why does the mind create thoughts? No one knows - it's just something it does, why bother. Do you ever ask why does the heart beat?   With a little practice you will get really good at watching thoughts and not involving yourself with them.   You will stop giving power to thoughts by not giving them your interest. Thoughts die immediately when they are deprived of this fuel of interest. If you don't associate with the thought or give power to the thought, it will wither away quickly.   What Are Thoughts?   Past events get stored as memories. Your mind conditioning and beliefs are also stored as memories. All this is unconscious storage; the mind does all this in auto mode.   Perceptions and interpretations are created in the mind based on its past "external" conditioning and also its natural conditioning (genetics). These interpretations, perceptions and judgments come up as thoughts in the mind, and they can be positive or negative depending on the mind's conditioning.   Thoughts are generated based on the past incidents/memories, future projections and interpretations on the present life situation. It's like a computer trying to predict or conjure up projection based on the data it has collected so far.   When thoughts are negative in nature (thoughts of worry, anxiety, stress, lack, resentment, guilt etc.) they produce resistance to the movement of your life, and this resistance is felt as suffering. Negative thoughts will always stand in resistance to the movement of your life, like blocks of stone in the midst of a swift current of water.   Life is a stream of pure positive energy and hence any negative thought will stand in opposition to it, causing friction which is felt as suffering in the body.   The thoughts in your mind gain power from your attention and interest. Your attention is the fuel for your mind. So when you give attention to consuming thoughts in the mind, you are unconsciously fueling it and thus attracting more momentum for these negative thoughts.   The momentum of negative thoughts in your mind will slow down, and ebb away, automatically when you stop feeding your attention to it. Stay as an open space of awareness without focusing your attention on the negative thoughts of the mind, and soon they will lose their momentum.   You can focus on the positive thoughts generated in the mind, and thus develop a positive momentum in your mind. Every time your mind produces some positive thoughts, e.g thoughts of love, joy, excitement, abundance, beauty, appreciation, passion, peace etc, focus on it, milk it, and give attention to it.   This will cause your mind to attract more positive thoughts and thus build a positive momentum.   Whenever the mind thinks negatively, don't give it attention or interest, this will cause the ebbing away of the momentum of negative thinking. It's really that simple. Once you understand the mechanics of how thoughts gain momentum in the mind, you will be in total control of your state of being.   The Practice of Watching the Mind   All you need to do to get rid of obsessive thoughts is to watch the mind without getting involved.   You will get really good at this with just a little practice. This practice, or "sadhana" as called in Hindu scriptures, is the root of awakening from the illusion of mind.   Without trying to understand this practice just implement it. The more you try to understand the more mind gets involved. Just watch the mind and you will soon see that you are not the mind at all.   That the mind is like a machine in your head that generates thoughts based on your attention/interest. Be free of your mind by depriving it of your interest. This is the only direct path of becoming free of the mind.   Please let me know if this is helpful, looking forward to talking with you more :) Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How do I get over my fear of sleeping alone?

Hi there, It's scary to have dreams like that! Having nightmares can definitely ruin the morning/day after. Thank you for this question!   I hear that you're looking for tips to get over the fear of sleeping alone. I'll provide some below, and then some insight afterwards:   1. Start using the mantra, "I am safe, I am in control, I have options". Say it to yourself before bed, while taking a few deep breaths. Hold this statement as truth. Whether you are alone or not, you are in control. A sense of safety is probably important to you. 2. Have a consistent bedtime routine. Turn off all screens an hour before bed. I know it's common to scroll on our phones at night, but the LED light could keep you awake. And, the content we consume before bed can greatly affect our dreams/nightmares. 3. Could something be added to aid in your comfort at bed time? A familiar stuffed animal or a cute one of your favorite character? Or an extra pillow, maybe an eye mask? Maybe a combination. Sometimes feeling wrapped up and secure in our beds may help.   It may be beneficial to examine the reasons you have these nightmares. Things like your stress levels, interactions, and environment can play a part. It is totally normal to have nightmares, but not to the point that they impact your daily life. Sleep hygiene, especially when consistent, is really helpful. Without good rest, we feel depleted and scared if we're having those nightmares! Remind yourself before bed that you are in control. Maybe talking with a friend or loved one before bed could lower anxiety. I would be curious to know if you're having nightmares related to reality based situations or fantasy. Maybe it's indicating the start of a new chapter in your life! To manage how scary they are, if you wake in the night and can't keep yourself in bed, get a glass of room temperature water and do some stretches. Reconnect your brain with your body. I hope this has been helpful! I think the main point is to decrease your anxiety and implement a consistent bedtime routine. Sweet dreams!
Answered on 01/21/2022

I have serious problems with nightmare. The wake me up every night . Very stressful. All night long.

Hi Jack.  I agree, nightmares are very stressful... and scary!  Especially if you have no idea why you are having them.  Do they repeat or have a theme?  Have you suffered or are you suffering from any kind of trauma?  Do you have any physical ailments?  Do you live/work in a stressful environment?  Do you live alone or have some sort of emotional support person?  Do you remember your nightmares when you wake up or just wake up feeling some kind of way?  I know this is a lot of questions, but every bit of information you can present will help in recovery.  I highly recommend keeping a dream journal.  Record everything you remember, even if it is just a feeling.  If you do not like to write, draw it.  Review your journal each week to figure out if there are any sort of patterns.  The hope is that at some point you will be able to figure out the underlying source of the nightmares.  Keeping a log about thoughts, emotions, behaviors, memories, and situations each day may help as well.  It could look like, "I am (place, environment, atmosphere, around people...).  I feel ... (physically and emotionally - IE: angry, sick to my stomach, heart beating fast...).  Because ... (the reason why) or I don't know why.  The same idea is behind it, recognizing themes, patterns, and triggers... and allowing yourself to analyze where all this is coming from in order to address the issues.  Getting the information out of your head and onto paper will allow your brain to make the headspace for new memories, experiences, and feelings.  If your mind is full of emotions, there is no room to think logically (the same is true for the opposite, if you are too logical, there is no room for emotion) and it will make you ill, both physically and mentally.  If you are going to bed with a lot on your mind, it will manifest in your subconscious and affect your conscious self.  It sounds like you would benefit from some trauma processing therapy, perhaps EMDR, art therapy, or cognitive processing therapy.  The trauma will not go away, but you can learn how to better manage symptoms.  Also, you should see a psychiatrist and tell them what is going on with you.  They may be able to prescribe some medication to lessen the nightmares.  Just remember that if you do decide to take the medication, you must do therapy as well.  Medication will not work by itself, nor is it meant to be used long term.  It is merely a tool to help you get through this time in therapy until you have learned the skills to manage symptoms on your own.  It is not quick or easy work, but it is really worth your time if you are serious about improving your mental health. I hope this helps or at least gives you some options to think about.  Best wishes on your therapeutic journey.  
(LCMHC, NCC, ATR-BC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How to stop having these reoccuring dreams?

Hi,  I am so sorry you are having this terrifying experience with sleep paralysis and recurring dreams. There are many possibilities that may be triggering these such as previous or current traumatic events, hormonal fluctuations, sleep disturbances such as obstructive sleep apnea, or other sleep-wave cycle phenomena that would need to be ruled out by a neurologist who might recommend a sleep study.  In addition, medication, alcohol, or other substances can trigger this phenomenon.   One suggestion I have for you before seeking out assistance from a neurologist to rule out something medical would be to keep a dream journal and write down exactly what you remember, what you see, what you feel, and what you interpret in those experiences--no matter how bizarre it seems.  Our unconscious state processes information in order for us to make sense of our day-to-day experiences and sometimes even gives us answers and solutions to issues that we are struggling with on a conscious level.  We also are wired to be highly intuitive beings, so there may be concerns you are processing on an unconscious level that haven't made their way to the conscious.  This is where dream journaling can really come in handy.  If it is difficult to write or type following waking up from a dream, if you have a recorder nearby, such as your voice memos or camera on your phone, you could record yourself recalling the experience and the dream imagery. Give it a few days and go back and read or listen to what you have recorded.  See if anything matches up with what you may be processing or dealing with in your day-to-day life. I know sleep paralysis, nightmares, and vivid dreaming can all be overwhelming and concerning.  The good news is that our brains are designed to help us process what we struggle with processing on a conscious level so it does work for us when we simply can't. Unfortunately, it can come out in very terrifying ways. That being said, if you are unable to come to a resolution and this issue persists or worsens, I strongly suggest seeking an appointment with a neurologist specializing in sleep disorders as it may be beneficial to have a sleep study. Additionally, if you have a smartwatch, the app autosleep is a great way to track your sleep cycle to get an idea of what your sleep quality looks like. If you have had traumatic events in your life, you might also seek assistance from a qualified trauma professional to help you unpack and heal from memories that are tormenting you in your dream and waking state.   I wish you all the best!
(MA, LMFT)
Answered on 01/21/2022

Why am I confusing my dreams with reality?

Thank you for your question. Dreams are interesting, as they are generally our subconscious trying to make sense of a reality we cannot clearly understand when awake. I would have many questions in order to understand how to best address this. Aside from this occurring within the past several weeks, is this a familiar experience from a time before that? Also, I would wonder if you are able to confirm your reality when you are awake? In other words, when you wake up, it might be natural to struggle to distinguish the dream from reality, but does the ability to tell the difference shift as the day progresses? If you are still struggling throughout the day to tell the difference, it may cause greater distress and impact functioning to a greater degree than would seek attention. I would encourage you to consider if any part of the dream can be verified in real-time to reassure you and help you differentiate the dream from reality. I also wonder how you approach getting up in the morning after the dream. I know you are asking more about whether this pattern you are identifying is concerning, but I thought I would also give you a few strategies to see if you can tell the difference to a greater degree. You can ask yourself in the morning what about the dream does not seem plausible rather than focusing solely upon how real it seems. You can consider any evidence that does not support the reality of the dream in other words. You can also ground yourself to where you are through imagery or identification of aspects of your environment to bring you back to your present reality. You can also consider what you know for certain and with confidence and attempt to stick to the facts. You can also entertain the meaning of the dream if it is a recurrent theme. For example, if it were a kidnapping dream over and over, you might consider where you felt powerless or helpless in your life and work to resolve that underlying issue to potentially reduce the recurrence of this dream in your sleep. Also, I question what you are doing before you go to sleep. Try to think of calming and soothing images before bedtime, as what we are last processing before we go to sleep may show up in some form or fashion in our dreams. I would also encourage you to create a new ending to your dreams perhaps where you feel more in control. For example, if you were kidnapped to use my example, you could envision you breaking free in the end. We often stay in a state of paralysis because the dream ends in a state of intense fear and anxiety. These are just a few skills to begin practicing to eventually reduce the intensity and frequency of the dreams. However, I do believe it would benefit you to go to a specialist, perhaps even a sleep specialist, to ensure there is not a sleep disorder that is prompting this distortion. Also, going to a psychologist to work through potential underlying issues and for further assessment and evaluation would be in your best interest. I think you are seeking clarity and answers, so while I can provide some feedback via this platform, to truly assess the underlying issues and their severity, seeking support from trained professionals is encouraged. 
Answered on 01/21/2022

I have nightmare and I sleep so much I just want to sleep all the time I can't face a single problem

Hello Xamm,  Thank you for taking the time to share this question.  It sounds like you have a few things going on that are disruptive to both your sleep and mental health.  I will try to address each of the problems that you inquired about.   1. Nightmares-There are many different reasons that individuals experience nightmares such as stress and anxiety, insomnia or poor sleep quality, trauma, medications or substance misuse, or exposure to scary materials such as movies or books.  Although they can be relatively common for some individuals, there is a risk of complications such as being excessively tired during daytime hours, sleep avoidance due to fear of having bad dreams, and mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.  You should work with your therapist to determine if your nightmares are problematic.  They may have you practice deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or grounding techniques to reduce your stress and anxiety.  Additionally, nightmare exposure and rescripting is one useful tool when nightmares are ongoing and disruptive.     2. Behavioral Activation-You mentioned that you want to sleep all the time and can't face "a single problem".  This often occurs as a result of depression.  Depression and low mood can result in a lack of motivation.  Clients experiencing these symptoms may become inactive and tend to isolate themselves from others.  Over time, these behaviors increase depression which further works to intensify the cycle of inactivity.  If you find yourself stuck in this cycle, work with your therapist to create a plan to include physical activities in your daily routine such as riding a bike, taking a walk, or dancing. Don't wait until you feel motivated.  The more you move the better you will feel, but it won't be easy to start with.  Motivate yourself with rewards such as taking a relaxing shower, listening to a podcast, or playing a video game.  Be creative and consistent.  Taking small steps, you can change habits and can learn to be active again.     3. Medical Management-The combined use of cannabis and escitalopram may be causing some of the problems that you are experiencing.  According to www.drugs.com, when using this two substances together, individuals may experience "dizziness, drowsiness, confusion, and difficulty concentrating" in addition to "impairment in thinking, judgment, and motor coordination."  It is important to work closely with your medical provider to determine if these two substances are safe to take co-currently for you.   Thank you again for writing. Best wishes! Julie Elizabeth Gallivan, MA, LPC
Answered on 01/21/2022

How do I fix it?

Hello, It's hard to guess what may be happening without having more information. For example, have you always moved around a lot in your sleep? Are you dealing with a particularly high amount of stress right now? It could even be as simple as you feeling too warm or being uncomfortable in bed. There are a lot of potential explanations. In a setting where you'd be participating in therapy, the first thing I'd want to look at is whether you're having nightmares. If you've experienced trauma, you could be having nightmares that you may not even remember the next day. In that event, working on addressing the trauma would be an important place to start. Also, if that was the explanation, there is a medication commonly prescribed for those who have PTSD that reduces nightmares and can reduce the risk of harming someone else in your bed.  If you are experiencing significant stress (and even if this relationship is absolutely healthy, there can be a great amount of stress associated with being in a new relationship, especially when this relationship may mean so much to you). learning to use and incorporate coping skills, mindfulness strategies, and self-care activities during the day could help you have a more restful sleep at night. I suppose there could also be medical explanations, such as sleep apnea. If you have a history of that or suspect that, you should talk with a doctor. You may also want to look at whether there are any routines before bed that could be playing a role. For example, alcohol use can reduce the restfulness of sleep. You could also get a Fitbit or a similar tool that can track how often you are waking up and how much time you are spending in each sleep stage. So again, without knowing more about your background and what is occurring in your life, I can't tell you how to fix it. If you are dealing with a high amount of stress or anxiety or may need to work through some trauma, I highly suggest getting involved in therapy. If this is not the case, you may want to talk with a doctor about having a sleep study was done which could provide more information about what is happening as you sleep. I do suggest though, especially if it appears that you may harm your girlfriend in your sleep, that until this issue is resolved that you not be in the same bed. If you are pushing her in your sleep, it could be possible that you could become more aggressive and actually cause her harm, so the priority needs to be about safety. Anyway, I'm glad you're reaching out for help. I would be happy to work with you if you chose to give mental health therapy a try. Take care. Nick 
(MRC, LPCC-S, LICDC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

Dream control

Hey Grayvorn,  Sorry to hear you dealing with bad/confusing dreams. The symptoms you are feeling are not uncommon when no longer consuming some medications. Many of my clients report similar symptoms when coming off of an array of medications, regardless of whether they are opioids or other psych meds. Everyone's brain/biochemistry is different and the types of symptoms, as well as their severity, also varies from person to person. When experiencing these symptoms (dreams) it is a sign that our brain neurochemistry is attempting to reset to the way it naturally was, prior to beginning medication therapy. Any kind of medication consumption directly alters our brain's neurotransmitters, oftentimes in radical ways. It would make sense that the brain would also make radical adjustments to our neurochemistry to compensate for no longer receiving those medications.  In regards to reducing the frequency/severity of the dreams you are having, you have options. I would first recommend using the knowledge that these symptoms you are experiencing are common amongst those who use prescription medication to help build more acceptance regarding the dreams. As imperfect human beings, there is only so much we can do to directly manipulate our brains and neurochemistry towards feeling how we would prefer. By increasing our sense of acceptance of these dreams/symptoms, we can help take away some of the frustration that often results from having to deal with the life disruptions these symptoms can cause.  I would also recommend that you engage in more physical activity, 30-45 minutes 3-5x weekly, in order to assist with obtaining a better quality of sleep. I understand that it seems confusing as to how physical activity is going to lessen my symptoms. However, physical activity will make it so that the body releases more healthy neurotransmitters, along with other biochemicals, that will not only assist with keeping you asleep but also assist with the resetting of your body's biochemistry. This is another one of the few ways that we can directly manipulate our body's neurotransmitters.  Finally, I would also recommend that you cease the cycle of getting off and then back on, pain medications. As long as you continue to cycle on and off medications, you are going to experience these symptoms. Pain medications were not designed to be used in that manner, in the first place. You are altering your body's neurochemistry in a significant manner when you consume any kind of medication, especially over the long term. If you truly wish to have permanent relief from these symptoms, you will have to stop cycling.    Understand that some of this may not be what you wanted to hear, but I want to help you. Hope you found this information useful. Let me know if you need anything else. Take care!    
(LMHC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

What can be done if anxiety doesn't let you sleep?

In your case the best way to overcome and deal with this bout of sleep deprivation or disorder you are struggling with is by treating the problem at the exact moments in which it is happening; those hours you lie in bed wondering. You can do this by using one or both parts of this activity I will outline for you to follow on the way to achieving better sleeping habits and longer sleep time. The first part of this activity or treatment approach is physical; please remember, do not attempt any physical activity or exercise unless you are cleared by your medical doctor or a licensed physician to do so and also to stretch and warm-up properly prior to starting any physical routine, and the second part is one or a series of mental exercise. The key to achieving success while using this method is by staying focused on the routine and not allowing your mind to wonder aimlessly about while attempting to fall asleep. You must be willing to invest the time and effort needed and not just try it one time then say it does not or won't work for you as your dedication and commitment to the process are also very intricate in making this work now and overtime. So let us begin your journey to falling asleep faster, sleeping longer and waking up more refresh and alert. When you are ready to go to bed begin by doing a physical activity you are comfortable with until becoming exhausted without overexerting yourself. Aim for at least three repetitions then lie down, inhale and exhale slowly in and out for about three seconds each breath until you begin to breathe naturally. Follow this by doing one or a series of the mental exercise; any of these can be counting from one to a hundred, reciting a poem or quote, narrating a story; fictional or otherwise, or reliving a specific pleasurable moment. Don't worry about time as you will eventually fall asleep just continue until you get the urge to begin again from step one. Please don't forget that I recommend you skip the physical activity part if you're not fit enough, recovering from injuries or medically cleared to do so. Practice this repeatedly until you begin to fall asleep without effort.
(DSW, LCSW, ACSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How can I better motivated myself and get a better sleeping pattern?

Dear Dec,   Thank you for your message and sharing with me how you've been interacting with yourself, especially on how you've been handling unpleasant feelings and emotions that affects your sleep. As you said this has also affected your life significantly. Perhaps by addressing how to handle unpleasant emotions in a healthier manner, we can dive into addressing the issues in your life as well?   Often the experience we've had about anxiety (or any strong emotion such as stress/depression) was so terrible (even physically) that our body sort of become traumatized to it. We naturally become nervous about these unpleasant feelings because we don't like these sensations and experiences. As a result, we would do everything we can to avoid/fight these anxious feelings, often using numbing techniques such as using substances or distracting ourselves. Yet only to find that the anxiety gets stronger over time because we have never been able to make peace with it.   Therefore rather than trying to "change" / "fight" / "get rid of" these unpleasant sensations, perhaps the best thing that we can do is to make room for these feelings and even sensations, while staying on track to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment. Floating without judging / blaming ourselves through the anxiety experience, while focusing on making room for anxiety can be helpful.   Here is a short video put up by the author of the book "The Happiness Trap" which does a good job explaining this concept:   Please take some time to watch this and share your thoughts later :) I also highly recommend picking that book as well to supplement this therapy process.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCp1l16GCXI    We as human beings do not like sufferings, therefore often times we would be doing our best to fight it. However just like the analogy of swimming vs floating that we have talked about before, the more we fight it, the faster we sink. While if we can learn to float with these waves, we will realize that we won't sink.   Radical acceptance / Expansion is about accepting of life on life's terms and not resisting what you cannot or choose not to change. Radical Acceptance is about saying yes to life and all that life brings (including all sorts of emotions such as joy, sadness, peace, and pain), just as it is without forcing our ways into our lives.   Why do we want to accept life as it is? Because with anything that we do in life that brings us meaning and fulfillment, it always accompany a wide range of emotions, we can't possibly just choose the ones that we like and fight/avoid those that we don't like. Learning to experience all emotions as they are, is a sign that we are living our lives to the fullest.   To do so we must learn to accept (and make room for) any unpleasant sensations, feelings, or thoughts that we experience.   We don't want to fight it because the more we fight, the stronger they will come back.   We don't want to avoid it either because the more we avoid, the more we'll be afraid of it.   So the key here is to make room for these sensations, feelings and thoughts, while continue to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment in life.    Learning to "co-exist" with these feelings will naturally reduce the intensity of them.   Floating, is a form of learning to accept these feelings and make room for it.   Let me give you some practical guidelines on what I mean by accepting these feelings and make room for it.   You can look up "expansion technique" under Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for more information as well.   How to accept our emotions (and make room for them):   1. OBSERVE. Bring awareness to the feelings in your body.   2. BREATHE. Take a few deep breaths. Breathe into and around them.   3. EXPAND. Make room for these feelings. Create some space for them.   4. ALLOW. Allow them to be there. Make peace with them   Some people find it helpful to silently say to themselves, 'I don't like this feeling, but I have room for it,' or 'It's unpleasant, but I can accept it.'   • When you're feeling an unpleasant emotion, the first step is to take a few slow, deep breaths, and quickly scan your body from head to toe.   • You will probably notice several uncomfortable sensations. Look for the strongest sensation - the one that bothers you the most. For example, it may be a lump in your throat, or a knot in your stomach, or an ache in your chest.   • Focus your attention on that sensation. Observe it curiously, as if you are a friendly scientist, discovering some interesting new phenomenon.   • Observe the sensation carefully. Notice where it starts and where it ends. Learn as much about it as you can. If you had to draw a line around the sensation, what would the outline look like? Is it on the surface of the body, or inside you, or both? How far inside you does it go? Where is the sensation most intense? Where is it weakest? How is it different in the center than around the edges? Is there any pulsation, or vibration within it? Is it light or heavy? Moving or still? What is its temperature?   • Take a few more deep breaths, and let go of the struggle with that sensation. Breathe into it. Imagine your breath flowing in and around it.   • Make room for it. Loosen up around it. Allow it to be there. You don't have to like it or want it. Simply let it be.   • The idea is to observe the sensation - not to think about it. So when your mind starts commenting on what's happening, just say 'Thanks, mind!' and come back to observing.   • You may find this difficult. You may feel a strong urge to fight with it or push it away. If so, just acknowledge this urge, without giving in to it. (Acknowledging is rather like nodding your head in recognition, as if to say 'There you are. I see you.') Once you've acknowledged that urge, bring your attention back to the sensation itself.   • Don't try to get rid of the sensation or alter it. If it changes by itself, that's okay. If it doesn't change, that's okay too. Changing or getting rid of it is not the goal.   • You may need to focus on this sensation for anything from a few seconds to a few minutes, until you completely give up the struggle with it. Be patient. Take as long as you need. You're learning a valuable skill.   • Once you've done this, scan your body again, and see if there's another strong sensation that's bothering you. If so, repeat the procedure with that one.   • You can do this with as many different sensations as you want to. Keep going until you have a sense of no longer struggling with your feelings.   • As you do this exercise one of two things will happen: either your feelings will change - or they won't. It doesn't matter either way. This exercise is not about changing your feelings. It's about accepting them.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

I just want a diagnose or what is this why I'm like this. "That is one of the million problèmes"

Dear Tia,   Thank you for your message and sharing with me how you've been interacting with yourself, especially on how you've been handling unpleasant feelings and emotions. As you said this has also affected your life significantly. Perhaps by addressing how to handle unpleasant emotions in a healthier manner, we can dive into addressing the issues in your life as well?   Often the experience we've had about anxiety (or any strong emotion such as stress / depression) was so terrible (even physically) that our body sort of become traumatized to it. We naturally become nervous about these unpleasant feelings because we don't like these sensations and experiences. As a result we would do everything we can to avoid / fight these anxious feelings, often using numbing techniques such as using substances or distracting ourselves. Yet only to find that the anxiety gets stronger over time because we have never been able to make peace with it.   Therefore rather than trying to "change" / "fight" / "get rid of" these unpleasant sensations, perhaps the best thing that we can do is to make room for these feelings and even sensations, while staying on track to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment. Floating without judging / blaming ourselves through the anxiety experience, while focusing on making room for anxiety can be helpful.   Here is a short video put up by the author of the book "The Happiness Trap" which does a good job explaining this concept:   Please take some time to watch this and share your thoughts later :) I also highly recommend picking that book as well to supplement this therapy process.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCp1l16GCXI    We as human beings do not like sufferings, therefore often times we would be doing our best to fight it. However just like the analogy of swimming vs floating that we have talked about before, the more we fight it, the faster we sink. While if we can learn to float with these waves, we will realize that we won't sink.   Radical acceptance / Expansion is about accepting of life on life's terms and not resisting what you cannot or choose not to change. Radical Acceptance is about saying yes to life and all that life brings (including all sorts of emotions such as joy, sadness, peace and pain), just as it is without forcing our ways into our lives.   Why do we want to accept life as it is? Because with anything that we do in life that brings us meaning and fulfillment, it always accompany a wide range of emotions, we can't possibly just choose the ones that we like and fight / avoid those that we don't like. Learning to experience all emotions as they are, is a sign that we are living our lives to the fullest.   To do so we must learn to accept (and make room for) any unpleasant sensations, feelings or thoughts that we experience.   We don't want to fight it because the more we fight, the stronger they will come back.   We don't want to avoid it either because the more we avoid, the more we'll be afraid of it.   So the key here is to make room for these sensations, feelings and thoughts, while continue to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment in life.    Learning to "co-exist" with these feelings will naturally reduce the intensity of them.   Floating, is a form of learning to accept these feelings and make room for it.   Let me give you some practical guidelines on what I mean by accepting these feelings and make room for it.   You can look up "expansion technique" under Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for more information as well.   How to accept our emotions (and make room for them):   1. OBSERVE. Bring awareness to the feelings in your body.   2. BREATHE. Take a few deep breaths. Breathe into and around them.   3. EXPAND. Make room for these feelings. Create some space for them.   4. ALLOW. Allow them to be there. Make peace with them   Some people find it helpful to silently say to themselves, 'I don't like this feeling, but I have room for it,' or 'It's unpleasant, but I can accept it.'   • When you're feeling an unpleasant emotion, the first step is to take a few slow, deep breaths, and quickly scan your body from head to toe.   • You will probably notice several uncomfortable sensations. Look for the strongest sensation - the one that bothers you the most. For example, it may be a lump in your throat, or a knot in your stomach, or an ache in your chest.   • Focus your attention on that sensation. Observe it curiously, as if you are a friendly scientist, discovering some interesting new phenomenon.   • Observe the sensation carefully. Notice where it starts and where it ends. Learn as much about it as you can. If you had to draw a line around the sensation, what would the outline look like? Is it on the surface of the body, or inside you, or both? How far inside you does it go? Where is the sensation most intense? Where is it weakest? How is it different in the center than around the edges? Is there any pulsation, or vibration within it? Is it light or heavy? Moving or still? What is its temperature?   • Take a few more deep breaths, and let go of the struggle with that sensation. Breathe into it. Imagine your breath flowing in and around it.   • Make room for it. Loosen up around it. Allow it to be there. You don't have to like it or want it. Simply let it be.   • The idea is to observe the sensation - not to think about it. So when your mind starts commenting on what's happening, just say 'Thanks, mind!' and come back to observing.   • You may find this difficult. You may feel a strong urge to fight with it or push it away. If so, just acknowledge this urge, without giving in to it. (Acknowledging is rather like nodding your head in recognition, as if to say 'There you are. I see you.') Once you've acknowledged that urge, bring your attention back to the sensation itself.   • Don't try to get rid of the sensation or alter it. If it changes by itself, that's okay. If it doesn't change, that's okay too. Changing or getting rid of it is not the goal.   • You may need to focus on this sensation for anything from a few seconds to a few minutes, until you completely give up the struggle with it. Be patient. Take as long as you need. You're learning a valuable skill.   • Once you've done this, scan your body again, and see if there's another strong sensation that's bothering you. If so, repeat the procedure with that one.   • You can do this with as many different sensations as you want to. Keep going until you have a sense of no longer struggling with your feelings.   • As you do this exercise one of two things will happen: either your feelings will change - or they won't. It doesn't matter either way. This exercise is not about changing your feelings. It's about accepting them.   Does this make sense so far?   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How can I deal with intrusive/triggering dreams

First off I'd like to say thank you for reaching out and asking someone their professional opinion regarding your dreams. It is reassuring to hear that you are able to manage these during the day time, as it is typical that we are utilizing our 24 hours or in the Wake.. For example most people sleep around eight hours so it sounds 2/3 of your day isn't going so bad. I only say that because I find it extremely helpful to focus on any strength we have when we are faced with unpleasantries in our lives. Is awesome too easy for us to focus on the negatives, setbacks, barriers and discomforts that life is sending our way coming that will distract us just long enough for you to start losing sight of the value that life has to offer us. When incorporating our strengths, into our mine's, we are then able to potentially use them at times we feel our weakest. Speaking specifically to when you are asleep, and experiencing these dreams, it might be difficult at first to incorporate your strengths into a series of behaviors. However I would continue to first look at how you are able to navigate the day, any of those skills that you have developed over the course of your life so far, and see if any of them are applicable to your situation.    I do realize that that is not giving you a specific answer, but I am unaware of what it is you're able to do throughout the daytime that manages the thoughts around worries that may happen. I also recognized that the dreams that you're experiencing relate to past experiences around individuals in which you have had a difficult time with. I do wonder if you are able to spend some of your daytime processing and negative emotions connected to these negative experiences might give you the rest you're looking for. Oftentimes we are not at peace in our lives, rest, moreover sleep, is interrupted most.     All this being said I would still recommend that the relationship you have with sleep be discussed with your primary care doctor, as they may be able to help you achieve different sleeping habits. On the other hand oh, there might not be much you can do about dreams, as most people have noted that they do not have control over what they dream about. However, oh, there may be a therapist who claims to specialize in this type of treatment. Therefore I would recommend that you do some research to see whether or not a therapist I know would specialize in either dream analysis and or sleeping disorders, that might point you in the right direction. I didn't want to jump in and just offer my response to you as I saw this question and wanted to at least offer some of the inside that I had this time. I do recognize that I have not given you specific skills that you can have as much right away. I am confident that you have the solutions that you're looking for already at your disposal, if you're able to pay closer attention to your strengths, how you've overcome weaknesses, and put that into practice. In the least bit by doing so things will either get better or stay the same. I hope for you that you are able to give some of these things a try, speak to your primary care doctor, or give therapy with a therapist who specializes in sleeping disorders, moreover dreams. I wish you the best of luck in this endeavor and hope you find the relief you are looking for.
(LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

why do i have lots of scary nightmares in one night?

Adult nightmares can be caused by medications, genes, degenerative neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s, last night’s tamales, traumatic events in the present, never-healed wounds from the past that a recent event has unmasked, and gut-level threats to health, safety, and the very sense of who you are. Those who put a lid on expressing how they feel in response to stressful events during the day are likely to be taken for a ride by those emotions in the form of nightmares at night. And some, particularly people who are open and sensitive, may have a “thin” boundary between what’s real and what’s a dream. This means that their waking life is more than likely to stir up their night life and cause some pretty horrendous dreams. A nightmare is a dysfunctional dream in many ways. Instead of integrating the day’s events and feelings with older, stored memories and defusing negative emotions—which is what some researchers feel a dream is supposed to do—the emotions your brain is processing overload your circuits, prevent their integration into older memories, and jerk you from sleep.   Hello! Thank you for your question. Those dreams in which you describe being killed and/or sexually assaulted by a crush have probably made you feel extremely anxious and/or emotionally taxed. Since recurring dreams tie together with recurring and ongoing situations and circumstances in life, a simple question to ask yourself is, what recurs in my life? Expand the idea to consider what recurs in your thoughts and emotions. Answers likely to be found there. Most dreams are about you and your life — especially your inner life. When interpreting a dream of any type, I begin there and work outward. Your recurring dreams are likely to connect with something ongoing in your life, something within easy reach to grasp mentally and emotionally if you step back and observe. Your recurring dreams are likely to connect with something ongoing in your life, something within easy reach to grasp mentally and emotionally if you step back and observe. Connect the details of a recurring dream to what’s happening in your life, and reflect on where you’ve been, where you’re at, and where you’re headed. Simply reflecting on your life and thinking of your dream work as similar to writing in a diary can spontaneously bring answers and insights to mind, or at least give you clues to follow to the meaning and significance. how to interpret recurring dreams Recurring dreams can give you a lot of details to work with as you investigate their meaning, but the tricky part can be how to decode dream symbolism. Dreams present just about everything to you as symbolism.    Decode the symbolism of a recurring dream detail and it’s like finding a master key that unlocks other doors in your dream world. This advantage works two ways. One, when you figure out a symbol or some symbolism from a dream, you know how it could be used in other dreams, too. It’s not an automatic answer (the meaning of dream symbols can vary widely and differ from dream to dream), but it’s the first place you go in your thought processes. Two, recurring dreams lead you toward ripe areas of life with potential for growth. They point toward where your energy and effort are likely to bear fruit, and toward any obstacles that need to be overcome in yourself and your life. Sometimes just one piece of the puzzle, one piece of knowledge or information about a recurring dream, brings together other pieces so that you see the big picture.    Having a dream being killed is very scary. Understanding what this dream means can help you make the changes necessary in your life to start living the life you want to live. Learning how to effectively understand your dreams can not only help you improve your life greatly – it can also help you no longer have scary and troubling dreams.   These dreams are very terrifying to have, and can be difficult to understand. Oftentimes a dream like this means you are afraid of someone’s motivations in your life. For example, maybe you have a co-worker who is trying to use you at work. Perhaps you know someone who is either physically or verbally abusive towards you. If you dream someone is trying to kill you it can also mean that you are experiencing anger or hostility from another person in waking life. This is a common dream to have after a heated argument or if you have stopped talking to a person in real life. It can also be helpful to explore the related dream symbol being trapped in a dream as well as what it means to be chased in a dream, as these related themes may provide additional insight on what this dream means for you.   It could also mean that you feel as though someone is threatening to you or attempting to  gain control over your life There are real-life experiences that could make you try to avoid a person or situations but end up dreaming about them. Those things you’re unable to avoid completely in real life keeps on appearing in your dream and can be terrifying as you might dream about them coming after your life. When you dream about someone you know trying to kill you, it could be that you’re pretty much afraid someone close to you will impact your life and bring misfortune to you. Here’s the brutal truth about seeing someone you know trying to kill you in your dream. Dreams happen during our unconscious moment in life and can use anyone’s image to present the situation and that does not imply it is the person who’s really after your life in the dream or about to hurt you in real life. It is also possible to still see the face of a stranger trying to kill you in your dream, someone you’ve never met before and this can put you into thinking that some strange persons want to sweep you off the earth. The images of your attacker in the dream are formed just as a metaphor by your subconscious self.     When you’re overstressed in life, your subconscious mind can capture it that you’re overworking yourself and the stress is likely to damage your life. It then becomes easier to see yourself struggling to survive in your dream or running away from death. Minimize stress and give yourself some time to relax, this will help you recollect yourself again, focus only on the things that matters to you and you will find it is possible to stop dreaming about someone trying to kill you in the dream.    Do you feel guilty about something that you have done? Did you commit a crime or something you think will lead you to jail or loss of life through legal actions? You’re surrounded with fears and uncertain about what’s going to happen next. This doesn’t really matter if anyone is aware of what you’ve committed or not but you are still pondering what if it becomes uncovered to the people? When you go to sleep with such thoughts, don’t be surprised to see someone or people trying to kill you in your dream, because you’re trying to mask your wrongdoings.    Rape is a deeply disturbing dream image, indicative of a feeling of traumatic violation. It is likely that someone you trust and around whom you feel that you can be vulnerable either has or will soon betray you and expose your vulnerability. Sexuality symbolizes a very deep part of oneself. You may feel like your identity is under attack, by people who are trying to make you change your values or by circumstances that are making you re-think everything you thought you were. you MUST keep in mind the symbolic ideas that can be expressed as rape. For example, being depicted in a dream as a rapist can be a way of symbolically comparing with personality traits such as obsession, taking advantage of weakness or innocence, or single-minded determination to take what you want. Carl Jung says some dreams are objective; they tell it like it is, but most dreams are subjective; they tell it like you see it. This teaching is tremendously important to bring with you as you interpret dreams involving rape or portrayals of rapists. I recently encountered a post at Reddit where a young woman reported a dream of being raped by her father. She says he acts strangely toward her and gives her a weird vibe. Is her dream subjectively expressing that feeling and exaggerating it into a story about rape? Perhaps, as this dream is a way of her real-life feelings being expressed albeit extreme.   So what can you do? Take these steps to try and get some relief at night:  1. Recognize that you’re having a nightmare This may sound impossible to do, but it’s not. Simply resolve that you’re going to do this before you fall asleep. It may take a few tries, but you’ll get the hang of it.   2. Stop your dream Believe it or not, you can do it. Start by recognizing that the dream you are having is bad.   3. Change your dream ending Turn what’s negative into something positive. You may have to wake up to do it, but eventually you’ll be able to tell yourself to write a better ending as you sleep.   4. Keep a dream diary   Keep a dream journal at your bedside and write down your dreams every morning—all of your dreams, not just the nightmares. Then periodically review the ones that trouble you and try to figure out why they’re upsetting.  
(MA, LMFT)
Answered on 01/21/2022

what am i going through?

On the surface, it seems you may think that there is something terribly wrong and that is why you are having constant nightmares.  Nightmares, while certainly not something you are welcoming are a very common experience.  Most people who are suffering from recurrent nightmares do not have an associated pathology.   Meaning there may not be a definitive answer to the question.    There are some known triggers to the onset of adult nightmares: normal stress and anxiety, psychiatric disorders, post-traumatic stress, exposure to acute trauma, medications, or substance use withdrawals.     The jarring content of your dreams fragments your sleep and since you are wanting to avoid the nightmare you are avoiding sleep.   A pattern that certainly isn’t going to reduce the impact of triggers.  So, while answering the why question may prove difficult and necessary - and we could explore some of quesses - the what now question seems to be much more important.    Since dreams pull from a daily residue and bring images, interactions with the environment and people throughout the day into our dream world it is important to guard your exposure to the horrific.  I would insulate and guard what I read and watch.     Other behaviors that you have in your daily waking life can significantly impact the easiness of your feelings, trepidations and worries that you take with you to bed.  Journaling before you sleep could help to externalize some of the worries.      Confronting some of the difficulties that occur in our daily lives allows us to feel at rest and at peace with ourselves.  When we don’t have open-ended and unresolved issues with people or problems it can be much easier to sleep at night.  Granted there are some inevitabilities and givens of human life that make it difficult to do that - and many of us will struggle to address those dreads for a good portion of our lives.     Know that dreams are something that are happening within you as a creation of your own cognition, as such, they are under your influence and control.  They are creations of your own mind.  They are not deposited there and they do not come to you.  They are not predictive and while they are significant in understanding how we are experiencing our inner worlds, they are not predictors of or from the outer world.     If we were to approach this as an issue in a session together we may use a cognitive-behavioral approach or if the time and capacity allowed a psychodynamic or existential approach.  Counseling has benefits and risks and it often involves discussing unpleasant aspects of your life. You may experience uncomfortable feelings like sadness, guilt, anger, frustration, loneliness, and helplessness. On the other hand, counseling has been shown to have benefits for people who go through it. It often leads to better relationships, solutions to specific problems, and significant reductions in feelings of distress. There are no guarantees as to what you will experience. It is impossible for any counselor to guarantee any specific results regarding your counseling goals. However, together we would work to achieve the best possible results for you.  
(LPC-S)
Answered on 01/21/2022

When is medication or other interventions used with night terrors? When have my night terrors gone too far?

It sounds like you experienced trauma that you have yet to completely process. Having the flashbacks to this traumatic time via dreams is called re-experiencing and it often happens when people are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Not only are these dreams disrupting your sleep patterns, they are also affecting your well-being and your ability to function during the day afterward. Another drawback is that some people, like you mentioned, don't even want to GO to sleep for fear of having these dreams. There are several things that you can do to help with this issue. One offers a more immediate fix while others may take a bit more time to bring about any clearcut results. I would try these first before I would take the medication route, but if these do not help, then you may wish to consult a doctor and try some type of medication. One important way to avoid dreading sleep is to make it a more positive experience. Create an inviting space to sleep in. Bedeck your room with soft lighting and candles. make it a tranquil, restful, calming place. Try to avoid working or watching television in your room and just let it be a soothing place where you go and relax. You can also play soft music as you try to drift off to sleep. If music doesn't help, there are always podcasts you can listen to or apps that play sounds to help lull you to sleep. Before you get ready for bed, you should probably disconnect from electronics, this means your cell phone, tablets, and computers. Many people use their tablets to read books, but the blue light that the electronics emit prevents us from producing the hormone, melatonin, that aids us in our sleep. You also may be looking at or reading information that is thought-provoking or disturbing and will prevent sleep from coming. And, don't forget those pesky work emails that pop up on your phone just as you were going to put it down and try to sleep. You'll be too curious not to look to see what the email is about, and that could open a whole other set of problems to worry about! Something else that will help you get a better night's sleep is if your body is tired when you go to bed. Exercising during the day or doing yoga, for example, helps tire your body. Just make certain you don't do any heavy-duty exercise too close to bedtime as it can be counterproductive by actually preventing you from falling asleep due to nervous system stimulation. A leisurely stroll around the neighborhood is fine. Your pup will like it too! Believe it or not, the temperature of your bedroom can affect your sleep. Experts recommend keeping it between 65 and 72 degrees for optimum sleep. Your body cools off slightly for the most refreshing sleep, but this isn't really possible if the room is too hot. It's also not good for the room to be too cold, as you will wake up. Goldilocks will tell you that it's best to sleep in a room that feels just right! Limiting your caffeine before you go to sleep is a must. It's also a good idea to stop drinking liquids a bit before bedtime to avoid having to get up to use the bathroom. Sometimes it can be difficult to fall back to sleep once you're awake. Then you may want to check your phone and see that work email that leads you down the path of no return! It's a vicious cycle! If you do get to sleep, but are awakened by these vivid traumatic dreams, what can you do? Keep a dream journal next to your bed. If you are having trouble remembering parts of your dream by the time you wake up in the morning, when the dream wakes you up, grab a pen and write it down in the dream journal. This will also help you keep track of how often you're having upsetting dreams and if you are dreaming the same dream or a different dream. I would strongly suggest you find a therapist and share your dream journal. Together you can discuss the dream in a safe, non-threatening environment and discover together what it may mean. This may lead to discoveries of things you thought you'd buried long ago. It may lead to remembering events that you didn't even realize had occurred. Our brains are incredibly powerful and can keep things hidden from our conscious minds until we are better able to process what has occurred. The key to making these dreams become less and less frequent is to figure out the underlying problem or event that is causing you to have them in the first place. If you and your therapist can get a handle on this, you probably have a much better chance of reducing the occurrence if not eliminating them altogether. Dealing with the trauma and beginning the healing process is going to bring you many more benefits than just a good night's sleep. One of the most important things to remember is that people recover and heal from traumatic events at different paces. Don't compare your recovery process to anyone else's as it is very individualized. As you know, you'll never completely escape uncomfortable emotions that are brought out when you think of the trauma you experienced, but you'll be better able to deal with those emotions. Take the time you need to grieve what may have been lost during this time, but know that better days are ahead. After properly processing these events and your feelings, you will eventually be ready to move forward. This journey can take many forms and take you down different paths. You will learn that you can take your personal power back from the trauma and even possibly use that power to help other people who have experienced similar circumstances. The emotional upheavals you have experienced in your past don't define you; you REdefine yourself! Hopefully, when your anxiety level is down and you have discovered the meaning behind your dreams, your work with your therapist will make those sleepless nights a thing of the past!
(MA, LPC, NBCT)
Answered on 01/21/2022

Weird dreams

It sounds like you experienced trauma that you have yet to completely process. Having the flashbacks to this traumatic time via dreams is called re-experiencing and it often happens when people are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Not only are these dreams disrupting your sleep patterns, they are also affecting your well-being and your ability to function during the day afterward. Another drawback is that some people, like you mentioned, don't even want to GO to sleep for fear of having these dreams. There are several things that you can do to help with this issue. One offers a more immediate fix while others may take a bit more time to bring about any clearcut results. One important way to avoid dreading sleep is to make it a more positive experience. Create an inviting space to sleep in. Bedeck your room with soft lighting and candles. make it a tranquil, restful, calming place. Try to avoid working or watching television in your room and just let it be a soothing place where you go and relax. You can also play soft music as you try to drift off to sleep. If music doesn't help, there are always podcasts you can listen to or apps that play sounds to help lull you to sleep. Before you get ready for bed, you should probably disconnect from electronics, this means your cell phone, tablets, and computers. Many people use their tablets to read books, but the blue light that the electronics emit prevents us from producing the hormone, melatonin, that aids us in our sleep. You also may be looking at or reading information that is thought-provoking or disturbing and will prevent sleep from coming. And, don't forget those pesky work emails that pop up on your phone just as you were going to put it down and try to sleep. You'll be too curious not to look to see what the email is about, and that could open a whole other set of problems to worry about! Something else that will help you get a better night's sleep is if your body is tired when you go to bed. Exercising during the day or doing yoga, for example, helps tire your body. Just make certain you don't do any heavy-duty exercise too close to bedtime as it can be counterproductive by actually preventing you from falling asleep due to nervous system stimulation. A leisurely stroll around the neighborhood is fine. Your pup will like it too! Believe it or not, the temperature of your bedroom can affect your sleep. Experts recommend keeping it between 65 and 72 degrees for optimum sleep. Your body cools off slightly for the most refreshing sleep, but this isn't really possible if the room is too hot. It's also not good for the room to be too cold, as you will wake up. Goldilocks will tell you that it's best to sleep in a room that feels just right! Limiting your caffeine before you go to sleep is a must. It's also a good idea to stop drinking liquids a bit before bedtime to avoid having to get up to use the bathroom. Sometimes it can be difficult to fall back to sleep once you're awake. Then you may want to check your phone and see that work email that leads you down the path of no return! It's a vicious cycle! If you do get to sleep, but are awakened by these vivid traumatic dreams, what can you do? Keep a dream journal next to your bed. If you are having trouble remembering parts of your dream by the time you wake up in the morning, when the dream wakes you up, grab a pen and write it down in the dream journal. This will also help you keep track of how often you're having upsetting dreams and if you are dreaming the same dream or a different dream. I would strongly suggest you find a therapist and share your dream journal. Together you can discuss the dream in a safe, non-threatening environment and discover together what it may mean. This may lead to discoveries of things you thought you'd buried long ago. It may lead to remembering events that you didn't even realize had occurred. Our brains are incredibly powerful and can keep things hidden from our conscious minds until we are better able to process what has occurred. The key to making these dreams become less and less frequent is to figure out the underlying problem or event that is causing you to have them in the first place. If you and your therapist can get a handle on this, you probably have a much better chance of reducing the occurrence if not eliminating them altogether. Dealing with the trauma and beginning the healing process is going to bring you many more benefits than just a good night's sleep. One of the most important things to remember is that people recover and heal from traumatic events at different paces. Don't compare your recovery process to anyone else's as it is very individualized. As you know, you'll never completely escape uncomfortable emotions that are brought out when you think of the trauma you experienced, but you'll be better able to deal with those emotions. Take the time you need to grieve what may have been lost during this time, but know that better days are ahead. After properly processing these events and your feelings, you will eventually be ready to move forward. This journey can take many forms and take you down different paths. You will learn that you can take your personal power back from the trauma and even possibly use that power to help other people who have experienced similar circumstances. The emotional upheavals you have experienced in your past don't define you; you REdefine yourself! Hopefully, when your anxiety level is down and you have discovered the meaning behind your dreams, your work with your therapist will make those sleepless nights a thing of the past!
(MA, LPC, NBCT)
Answered on 01/21/2022