How To Stop Nightmares And Night Terrors

nightmare scene of a dark woods

Contents

  1. Introduction: the Ojibwe and the dream catcher.
  2. The difference between nightmares and night terrors.
  3. How parents can help children with night terrors.
  4. How parents can help children having nightmares.
  5. Advice for adults having nightmares.
  6. Specialist help and other ideas.

1. The Ojibwe and the dream catcher

dreamcatcher to stop bad dreamsWouldn’t it be great if you could stop nightmares as simply as by hanging a dream catcher above your bed?

The Ojibwe Native Americans believed that the delicate handmade spiderweb would only allow good dreams through, and would catch the bad dreams.

Unfortunately the dream catcher has never worked for me and, without wanting to sound too cynical, I doubt it worked for them either in the way it was intended.

What’s interesting though is that it’s a great example of how important it is to people to prevent nightmares.

Despite the unlikeliness of nightmares being something which can get caught in a web and dissolve in the sunlight, I do like the creativity and positivity of the idea.

And who knows, perhaps the additional comfort it provided children made some difference to how happy and relaxed they felt about going to sleep.

In this article I’ll be looking into ways to stop nightmares and night terrors, some of which the Ojibwe would probably have instinctively also tried with their children.

I’ll also be describing the latest therapeutic techniques that are used to help adults who are struggling to deal with their nightmares.

You’ll find lots of techniques you can put to work straight away, and some that take a little more effort. Hopefully, it will set you on your way to reclaiming a more peaceful night time.

2. The difference between nightmares and night terrors

Nightmares and night terrors are similar in some respects, but with some key differences:

Nightmares

nightmare of being stuck in the mudA nightmare is a dream which causes strong feelings of distress, fear, terror or anxiety. For example, the classic dream of getting stuck in mud whilst trying to run away from something.

Many adults do still get nightmares, even if it’s younger children between the ages of 3 and 6 years who tend to experience them most often.

They occur during the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) phase of sleep, which is why they tend to happen later in the night.

People don’t usually move or make noises when having a nightmare. But when you wake up you might remember it all too clearly, perhaps still feeling anxious or scared.

Night terrors

The main difference is that you don’t usually wake up from a night terror, though you may have some recollection of feeling scared in the morning.

So in fact it’s normally someone else, particularly a child’s parent, who has to deal with the unpleasantness of the experience.

Usually occurring in children between 4 and 12 years old, they might suddenly start screaming, moving around in bed erratically, rolling, kicking or lashing out.

They could even sit upright and look awake during the episode, though they won’t respond if you talk to them or touch them.

Despite how disturbing it can be to witness someone expressing terror like this, fortunately the child will usually settle down again after a few minutes.

Night terrors occur during the non-REM stage of sleep, specifically during slow-wave sleep which is also known as deep sleep. This usually occurs an hour or two after falling asleep.

Not to be confused with other sleep disorders

In the middle of the night it can be easy to confuse one bizarre or unpleasant experience with another. Perhaps the most terrifying of all is sleep paralysis. This is thought to occur when your body is still shut down but your brain is awake.

It often results in feeling like something evil is crushing you or that a dark presence is in the room with you. For more on this, have a look at my article discussing sleep paralysis.

Another rare sleep disorder, which takes the prize for the best name is exploding head syndrome. This can be very disturbing and involves hearing a loud noise in your head, which could be like a screaming, slamming, explosion or any other loud noise.

And if your child regularly wakes up saying they can see things in the dark, like spiders or creatures moving around, it may be that they are having the very common experience of sleep hallucinations.

3. How parents can help children with night terrors

The possible causes

cartoon of child having night terrorsAs happens so often in the world of sleep, the exact causes of sleep terrors are still not clear. One of the most common theories is that they are caused by the Central Nervous System CNS) being too active during sleep.

The CNS is a regulator of brain activity when awake and asleep, and is still maturing during childhood, so perhaps hasn’t quite perfected the art of keeping the brain from getting too excited at night.

Scientists also believe that a child is more likely to experience night terrors if they are stressed or worried about something. Other possible factors are a lack of sleep generally, and a change to the child’s sleep schedule or daily routine.

What parents can do

Parents can try the following to help stop their child’s night terrors:

  • Don’t try to wake the child up during an episode of night terrors. Just wait patiently with them until they settle down naturally.
  • If the child is thrashing about, make sure they don’t hit themselves or injure themselves.
  • Talk to them during the day to see if anything is particularly worrying or stressing them which you can then work on.
  • Make sure they have a stable and positive bedtime routine and set bed times.
  • Make sure they get enough sleep and aren’t getting too tired.
  • You can also take the advice from the next section about nightmares.

4. How parents can help children having nightmares

The causes

The cause of nightmares for children or adults is still not completely understood, though the experts do have some ideas.

It’s perhaps easier to look at theories about why we dream in general, whether it’s what we would call a good or a bad dream. One of the most common theories is that it’s a way we deal with the complexities of life and of being human.

Our dreams are one way we process thoughts and feelings about what is going on in our lives. It’s also a way to deal with worries, concerns, anxieties and fears we may have.

This helps explain why children particularly might experience nightmares when there are major changes or events happening in their lives. For example events at school, the birth or death of family members, moving house or arguing parents.

They can also occur after traumatic events such as accidents and injuries or horrible events they might witness. And of course, as many of us know, watching, reading or hearing about something scary can also trigger nightmares.

What parents can do

Whilst it may not be possible for parents to stop nightmares completely for their children, you can take some steps to help them relax and feel like sleep is a good thing:

  • Ensure they have a regular bedtime and consistent bedtime routine.
  • Spend time with them before bed doing something that makes them feel happy, secure and cozy. For example a bath, reading a book, snuggling or talking about the day.
  • Make sure their bed is comfy, cozy, warm but not hot, and peaceful. Having a favorite soft-toy or night light can help.
  • Don’t let them watch or read anything scary before bed, or play any games which can be scary or make them anxious.
  • Read one of many excellent children’s books written specifically to help kids with anxiety about monsters and the dark. Searching online will reveal many lists of great examples of these!

What you can do if a child wakes up scared from a nightmare

man looking under the bed for monsters

Looking under the bed for monsters can reassure children after a nightmare

Unlike sleep terrors, a child may well wake up from a nightmare and understandably be worried about falling asleep again.

In fact, adults may also experience this after a particularly horrible dream. You can do the following to help them settle back down:

  • Talk about what happened, tell them it’s a bad dream, but reassure them that it wasn’t real and isn’t going to happen in the real world. This only needs to be a brief conversation, but just some words of comfort can go a long way.
  • Let them know you are there, and that they are safe with you there.
  • Let them know it’s normal to have a bad dream and that everyone has them sometimes.
  • You can provide reassurance by checking everywhere in the room for monsters.
  • Switch on some ambient lighting or a night light.
  • Make sure they have a favorite teddy-bear, blanket or comforter.
  • The next day it might also help to bring it up again to help deal with it. You could also bring it into the art world with some drawing to make it seem less scary, or perhaps even some role play to make the monster or whatever it might have been seem silly, fun and less threatening.

On a final note, don’t forget that you can always consult a doctor if your child is having nightmares or night terrors to the extent that it’s disturbing their daily life, mood, development or health.

They may be able to refer you to a specialist who’ll hopefully find a way to help your family further. This can be particularly useful if the child is having recurrent nightmares, or is having them as a result of a traumatic event.

5. How to stop nightmares as an adult

Having nightmares as an adult is nothing to be ashamed of. I’ve had all kinds of bizarre or unpleasant nightmares over the years: my partner attacking me, having to rescue a friend from crocodiles, relatives dying, and even losing something really important and still believing it was true for hours after I’d woken up.

There are a few things which are known to possibly trigger nightmares, so you can start by having a think about whether these apply to you or not:

  • Drinking alcohol, especially late in the evening.
  • Too much caffeine, again late in the day especially.
  • Taking recreational drugs.
  • Smoking cigarettes before bed.
  • Doing heavy exercise shortly before bed.
  • Watching or playing a violent or scary film or computer game in the evening.
  • Eating late at night. Even small bedtime snacks can trigger nightmares.
  • Illness which induces a fever.
  • Breathing disorders in sleep, such as apnea. If you have any breathing problems when you sleep, it’s essential you consult a doctor about it.
the ring horror film

Don’t watch horror films late at night!

In addition to the above ideas, here are some other points you might like to consider which could help:

  • Some medications can cause nightmares. You can check the known side effects online or ask for your doctor’s advice.
  • Stress, anxiety and worry are often the main cause of nightmares in adults. We have a large section on relaxation exercises for sleep which you might find helpful to do before bed.
  • It may be that you’re experiencing major changes or issues in your daily life. Moving house, relationship issues, money or work issues, traumatic experiences for example could all trigger nightmares. You may find that tackling these issues will help reduce the nightmares. Don’t forget to talk to friends or family, or even seek professional help if you’re finding something in your life overwhelming.
  • As with kids, having a stable sleep schedule can be helpful.
  • It can help to do some exercise every day, even if it’s just a walk.
  • Keep the bedroom cool. If your room or bed is too hot it’s more likely you’ll have a disturbed sleep.
  • Keep a dream and nightmare diary. Recording what you experience can sometimes help to make it seem less out of control.
  • Try to do some positive thinking or visualization while you lie in bed. Some people believe you can influence your dreams purely by telling yourself what you want to dream about.

6. Specialist help

In addition to the advice above, there are a few other possibilities you might like to try, especially if you’ve tried all the ideas so far listed, but seen no improvements.

Ask for a referral to a sleep specialist or sleep center

If you’re finding that your nightmares are interfering with your daily life and functioning, it may be time for specialist help. Your doctor may be able to refer you to a sleep specialist or clinic if you’re lucky enough to have one available.

There is a sleep disorder called nightmare disorder, and this may require professional help. They may prescribe you certain medications such as Prazosin or Clonidine. Or they may try talking therapy such as Imagery Rhearsal Therapy.

If you don’t have access to such specialists or want to find out more, then this best practice guide outlines the current treatments for nightmare disorder.

Imagery Rehearsal Therapy (IRT)

IRT is gaining popularity as a treatment for people who experience recurring nightmares as part of having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

It falls under the umbrella of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and involves working with a therapist to try to change your dreams by visualizing them happening differently while awake.

It’s also thought that it can help people who just have recurring bad dreams, even without the PTSD element. Whilst best done with a therapist, it can also be tried alone.

The main problem appears not to be whether it works though, but that it’s so simple it almost seems ridiculous that something so intense could be controlled so easily. There are 3 basic steps to trying IRT yourself:

  • Write down a summary of the recurring dream, or the most recent nightmare you’ve had.
  • Think of a way the nightmare can be changed to be less frightening. You should use your intuition to work out how to do this.
  • Spend a few minutes every day visualizing your improved version of the nightmare.

It sounds so simple it’s almost an insult to the power your nightmares have over you. But it’s been proven to be very successful, so it may well be worth a shot.

Lucid Dreaming and embracing your nightmares

There have been some reports in research literature that lucid dreaming treatment (LDT) can be an effective way to stop nightmares, for example this study in the McGill University in Canada.

The idea being that you can train yourself to become aware that you are in the middle of a dream or nightmare, and then either alter it or wake yourself up.

If that idea interests you, then even further than that is the idea of actually embracing you nightmares through lucid dreaming and using them as a tool for spiritual and/or psychological growth.

The following video, which was originally on a TEDtalk, explains this idea in a very entertaining and fascinating way:

It’s not all bad – nightmares and creativity

Whilst it might not provide you with a huge amount of comfort, there’s an interesting theory which suggests a positive side to nightmares.

Some scientists believe that there may be a link between dreaming and how creative you are. A study from the Dream Laboratory at the Hôpital du Sacré-Coeur de Montréal, published in the sleep medicine journal, looked at a group of 28 people.

woman having a nightmareSome suffered regular nightmares and they compared them to people who didn’t have nightmares, or at least didn’t report so.

They used word association techniques before and after sleep. They concluded that the nightmare sufferers displayed characteristics associated with creativity:

NM sufferers may access broader than normal emotional semantic networks in the wake state, a difference that may lead to this group being perceived as more creative.

As is often the case it’s not clear if nightmares help creativity or more creative and emotionally sensitive people are more prone to nightmares.

Either way, it might provide some solace to know that your nightmares could be a sign that you have an above average creative mind!

Your views

Hopefully you’ll have found something helpful in this article, whether it’s for your child or for yourself. But I’d also be interested to hear what you have to say about nightmares.

What kind of nightmares do you or your child have? What do you find makes them worse, or more frequent? And have you found anything that helps stop them? Please feel free to share your experiences in the comments below.

104 CommentsLeave a comment

  • My fiance is the most lovable man. His night terrors wake me 1,2 or 3 times EVERY night for a whole month 1 night i may get relief. He’s so sorry cause I work 7 days a week. He screams kicks cry laugh move his arm fight the covers sit up curse andmoans like a bear wolf or demon. and once he sleep walked. What do we do!!!???I
    Jump out of my sleep(headache eye bags red eyes) i wake him up but he goes RIGHT back into nightterrors 😞😢😢😢☹😭👹😠😠should we still marry signed im in Love with a mad man?😍help me please!!!!!everynight😔🙃

    • Hi Irene
      Thanks for your comment, and sorry to hear you’re both dealing with what sounds like a stressful sleep problem. Has he spoken to a medical professional about it? I think it would be a good idea to get him checked out to see if there’s anything they can do to help.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I have nightmares frequently. When I do, I wake up tired and scared. The effect of fear and uneasiness usually last several hours after I wake up.
    A couple of nights ago, I had the worst nightmare I’ve ever had. The effect after took several days to dissipate.
    I went to bed at around 1am, and woke up terrified around 2:40am. I was sore and I felt my teeth were going to fall out of my mouth: they felt lose. Several days later I am still sore from that night. My shoulders and back are tense, my joints in my arms and hands hurt and my jaw and teeth are very sensitive.
    It was one of those nightmares where you think you wake up in your room, just to realize you cannot move and are paralyzed. At the same time, the dream state takes over, and suddenly there is someone uninvited in your room. I woke up three times from this terrible dream. Thinking I was awake, just to realize that I was still paralyzed with a huge invisible weight over my body. Just to reslize that the person in the room was still there with no good intentions, that my tongue was cut out and my gut was gashed among other terrible occurrences.
    Naturally, when I woke up to the real world, I thought I was still sleeping because my body was in pain from the effort. I also noticed that I took a deep and desperate breath when I woke up.
    I’m worried that I may not be breathing at times… I don’t like to think I’m not, but it just seems like it because I wake up exhausted and sore.

  • Good Day,
    My 5 year old daughter only ever has disturbed sleep after a fun exciting day. I assume they are night terrors because (based on your article) they’ll start around 10- and when I try wake her up (I won’t do it again) she talks to me and responds to me with her eyes open- but I can see it’s an auto response and that she is still sleeping. Within seconds of lying back down she thrashes about and moans like I haven’t just “woken” her up. I just wonder why it’s after a fun day. Always. We had a party today. She had great fun but because I know she has nightmares, I try to make sure we slip straight back into routine when we get home to bring a sense of normality back to her- but she is still in the room now having a night terror.

    • Hi Terri
      Thanks for your comment. Have you tried spending extra time in the afternoon/evening following a particularly fun and exciting day doing things which are very calming and relaxing? Perhaps taking more time to unwind, and bring her energy levels back down would help. Perhaps even doing something like drawing the fun day, talking it over calmly or activities you can think of that help her close the day and go to bed feeling calm.
      Regards
      Ethan

    • Hi Vic
      I think the best thing in that case is to try to relax, accept that nightmares are quite normal – even though they are scary – and try to go back to sleep. If you can’t, then get up and do something familiar, comforting and relaxing for 10 mins, then go back to sleep.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • Hi,
    Thank you for this article as it gave me some insight. I have a history of sleep talking and night terrors, where I sit up wirh my eyes open and can see my room as it is, but I’m not fully awake and screaming. My husband has gotten used to this and waits till I’m completely awake to tell me what he saw. I remember having them usually, but not always. However, lasr night I sat up a creaming (don’t remember that) & I ran out of room because I thought someone was chasing me. I have only done this onew before but it was only to turn light on. This time I ran clear outside of room. I scared the kids and my husband… do you have any tips on how I can stop this? (I’m 42)
    Thanks,
    Taline

    • Hi Taline
      Thanks for your comment. There’s not much more I can add other than what’s in the article already! My advice would be to read and try to put into action those ideas first, if you haven’t already. If that doesn’t help, perhaps talk to your doctor about it.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • My father is 66 and for about the past year now he has been having nightmares. I can hear him yelling and screaming from across the house or sometimes he’s kicking and punching someone in his dream. The other night he smacked his head really hard against the wooden bed frame. He doesn’t take any medications and he is semi retired working for himself. What might be causing these nightmares?

    • Hi Stephanie
      Thanks for your comment. It’s hard to say why they might have suddenly started now – there are all kinds of things that can trigger nightmares and affect their frequency or intensity. If you and he are worried about his health and the risk of injury, it’s something to talk through with a doctor. He can try the self-help ideas too, but it’s a good idea to talk it through with a professional too.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • Deseri say: April 19 2017 11;40 am Hi! I’d Deseri experiences this conditon every night dam near is taken residone which does no good but leave me feeling doped up slightly low energy of doing my daily activites doctors need to spend time finding better solution to these astra travers attacks i am not imaging bullshit I have lots of OBE travelers intruding upon mine slep life harrassing bullying sexually assaulting me whispering to me about there pyshic ablities and high level intuton so of course with me not doing any OBE activities i would find myself being tormented lying into an a inacitive postion takening enduring what ever they dish out to me leaving me very upset and an nerves rack there are no demons if anything this maybe an another term they uses to describe there self but for what iam encountering are peoples soul wronging mine dormanted soul that may partially prepared it self for sleep form of astra travel yet didn’t make full lucidity leaving me stuck with the door open for thoses abling to make full atra speculum to make mine life an hell showing there asses off to know compasion to the disabled disorderly or mentally illness indiviuals i bet doctors can’t help dimissing the matter when some of theses doctors are also helping socienty civilain into there quest to disturb you from that second deminsion world help wouldn’t be the answer but bullshit medication thats treating you for an condition you don’t have opposed to the one you’d may have let there asses remedie that OBE activites there have less an complaint from me i need help yes dealing with these OBE traveler abusers this is mine problem not witches gobbling and demons but human being with there OBE attached angel other human being who only talk of astra traveling online in the world there doing less talking about this matter even when you’d question them they deny it knowing anything relating to it however i can talk about it again my troubles steam from OBE abusers making visitation to me peeping and much more sinister behavior towards me onto the cosmo or astra plane i need real people to help me not addon bullshitter playing dumb while i be terrified mine illness there the root cause i need to be whole not traped into mine own soul i am extremely angry about all the garabage spiritual mine asses people are doing me dirty while i lay unresponsive for to do away with there hearts desires my pain can’t be erased with wrong prescribe drugs just dope me up hoping i can’t remember nothing sure this is the answer spent time listening to way they keep hush hush like OBE isn’t large today into world it’s OBE for me Bitches get your facts straight i want mine paralized sleeping astra body unparalized so i can be functional astra traveler mine self not an preyed upon this is mine story find some right treatment .Thankyou

  • Hi my 16 years old daughter will get fear by seeing the dream in night and sometimes at day time..in her dream she want be able to see any thing it wll be fully dark..bcz of this she will get scared and will get sweat the will feel like drinkung water..she wll be totally blank for 3 to 4 mins..after 3 to 4 minutes she wll be fine..am worried y this wll happen for her continuesly ..plz help me for this solution…kindly relply me in my id

    • Hi Maya
      Thanks for your comment. You could try the techniques in the article, and get her to read it too. Perhaps you’ll be able to work together to ensure she has a more peaceful sleep. And if nothing else, be able to relax after a nightmare and fall asleep again afterwards. But if it continues to be a very stressful problem for her, the best thing is to speak to her doctor if self-help doesn’t make a difference.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • Hi Ethan, my husband is 52 years old and suffers from pretty severe night terrors – at least we think they are. He wakes almost nightly thinking there are snakes or some other scary creature (spiders, rats, etc., have all made appearances) and he flails about trying to get away, or get the creature out of the bed, etc.

    Most definitions of night terrors say the person rarely recalls the incidents, but he does always remember these in the morning. Sometimes there are 3 a night, sometimes he goes a week or two with none. He doesn’t not have a high stress life or suffer from PTSD, and his medical doctor didn’t take any of it seriously whatsoever.

    I’ve tried to get him to meditate but it’s not sticking, and I’m at a loss as to where and how to get help. These episodes have only ramped up in the past few years. Is there a possibility it’s caused be medication? Any words of advice would be most welcome – thank you!

    • Hi Margot
      Thanks for your comment. Did you leave a similar comment on the article about hallucinations? I have a feeling it’s more likely to be that rather than sleep terrors.
      Do you have an idea if he seems to be having a nightmare before waking up and doing this, or does he wake up peacefully and then it starts?
      It could definitely be medication, so if he is taking some, it’s worth looking it up to see if a listed side effect is sleep disturbance or hallucinations.
      Regards
      Ethan

      • Hi Ethan, yes that was me – I found that link afterwards and was definitely feeling the connection with those descriptions. No, I don’t believe it’s nightmares. He doesn’t wake up peacefully and then start the hallucination, he wakes up “in it” and proceeds to try to deal with the situation (searching for the critter or trying to get away from it) all while “awake” with eyes open, lights on. It just takes time to fully believe there isn’t anything there. He brought up to his doctor the blood pressure medication he’s on and it was completely brushed aside. It’s a frustrating nightly scene in our house. : (

        • Hi Margot
          Thanks for your comment. It seems more likely to be sleep hallucinations to me, something that commonly happens when transitioning in and out of wakefulness from sleep. Perhaps looking more closely into sleep hallucinations will help you find something that reduces the impact on you both? And if you’re not happy with the doctor’s response, there’s no harm in seeking a second opinion.
          Regards
          Ethan

    • Hi Margot,
      I am a 52 year old man with seemingly the same symptomology as your husband. It’s usually a creature or ‘thing’ doing bodily harm to me, or my bed is a collapsing bridge or platform, or an electric bed of pain, but almost always I remember directly upon waking.
      I’m sitting here now at 4am typing this because I jumped out of bed terrified, ran down the steps of my bedroom, across my living room and up the steps of my kitchen. Confused, absolutely terrified that my life was about to end horrifically somehow. My adult daughter and wife came up after me, also terrified about my well being.
      I have had sleep studies, wear a CPAP when I can tolerate it, but don’t have any answers. This has been going on for a few years, getting increasingly worse. Please tell me that your husband has made some sort of break through; that you both have figured something out.
      I don’t take any medications other than aspirin or ibuprofen; have a few drinks nightly (which I would gladly give up if I thought it would help), and do not have a high stress job.
      Any ideas you have found would be great. Peace to you and your husband…
      Dennis in State College

  • I’m 20 and I have wakeful dreams, sometimes nightmares or sometimes just very vivid but normal dreams. I usually wake up after 3-5 hours, then every 30-90 minutes there after. These were triggered due to some events last year in April, anxiety related, but since then I just haven’t recovered. Im less anxious now, but throughout the day I have moments of slight anxiety, not actually anxiety attacks however, and its triggered by little things always, and I’m also slightly hypochondriac. I don’t know if it is mostly mental and will it heal with time or do I need to accelerate my body and mind out of this state of anxiety? What do you recommend?

    • Hi Jason
      Thanks for your comment. I think that anxiety is sometimes underestimated by people – it can cause a lot of discomfort and disruption to normal life and feelings. So I think it’s good to tackle it actively if you’re suffering from it to this extent. I would recommend speaking to a professional therapist or counselor if you can. And if you can’t, or prefer self-help, I highly recommend something called mindfulness. You can get books teaching you how in shops, find many websites online or even go to classes to learn it. As a brief introduction, you might like my article teaching mindfulness exercises for sleep.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • Our son has been suffering with night terrors for approximately 3 years now. They started when he started pre-k.
    He’ll wake up crying and babbling words and shaking….he acts extremely terrified. At times he soils or wets himself.
    I have taken him to counselors and several Doct. Appointments.
    He has had several test and scans and we took him to a neurologist.
    Every test and scan came back normal!
    I’ve researched and read so much in order to help my son.
    I have noticed that if he eats a snack after 7 that he’ll most definitely have a night terror….so we have eliminated a late bedtime snack.
    I have also noted that when he wakes with a night terror….if I assist him with going to the bathroom, the night terror will not last as long and he will not soil or wet himself.
    We read bedtime stories and cuddle him every night, he has always had a bedtime schedule. We’ve tried night lights, essential oils….we’ve tried almost every remedy that you can think of….I even went so far as to have a medium come to my home.
    It’s heartbreaking to see our son go thru these.
    Unfortunately I have come to the conclusion that we will indeed have to wait for these terrors to stop when he finally outgrows them.

    • Hi Jennifer
      Thanks for your comment. Sorry to hear you’re dealing with this – it must be very stressful seeing him like that. I’d say to keep going with the positive things your doing, and try any ideas in the article you haven’t so far. As you say though, it might just be a question of time. And hopefully that won’t be too long!
      Regards
      Ethan

    • Our kid had the same problem from about one years old until about five years old. He continued bed wetting and soiling until about 11 years old. I finally read an article he may have a sleep disorder and after a visit to an ENT and a Neurologist, we confirmed through sleep study, he had sleep hypopnea. He had his tonsils and adenoids out and that was the end of the accidents and his hyperactivity. He quit snoring, kicking, sleepwalking and wetting his pants about three days after the surgery. It was a horrible time for us and I wished I knew when he was two, what it took us many years later to figure out. Not one Physician every considered a sleep disorder :(

  • Hey I’m Kyle and keep having a recurring topic in my nightmares. It is typically me in class and I am called out for my awful grade on a test or something similar. Not sure if you still answer these emails or something but it’d be cool to hear from you what I should do to get these to stop.

    • Hi Kyle
      Thanks for your comment. It’s not so easy to stop your dreams. Try the ideas in the article if you like, and perhaps try relaxation techniques before going to bed. Maybe you’re worried about your grades, in which case talking to your family about it might be a positive thing to do. If it is connected to school stress, it’s good to talk this through with someone, and hopefully they can help you feel better about your school work.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I received a dream catcher from a friend who had bad spirits in her house. she used to see things and hear stuff as well. her mom and her use to wake up with marks from something. they even have a cat and it used to run in their room terrified after seeing something. I have always had nightmares but they died down. After putting up my dreamcatcher i have had terrible nightmares and most nights its the same nightmare over and ove again. I have had nightmares that seem so real such as someone all covered in black walking up my stairs holding a candle and walking into my sisters room. I hear someone walking in the middle of the night in her room and also my boyfriend said he saw someone waving from outside her room. All my nightmares are based in her room and sometimes i have called out to her because i thought she was the one to get up but it wasnt. Are dream catchers bad???

    • Hi Arely
      Thanks for your comment. To be honest, I think the reality is that dream catchers are just pretty mobiles, with no good or bad about them. But if you feel it’s making your sleep worse, get rid of it and see what happens.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • Recently i suffered from a nightmare where i was being followed by strange ghosts with their heads veiled by a black cloth. It was so disturbing that when i woke up i was thankful that it was just a dream. Should i buy a dreamcatcher?

    • Hi Dishika
      Thanks for your comment. If you think a dreamcatcher will make you feel better, and more reassured, then why not? But I can’t promise it will stop you having nightmares, unfortunately. It’s quite normal to have bad dreams, so try not to worry about it too much. You can try the tips in the article, but also, it’s good to understand that it’s a normal thing.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I’m 35 years old and have been having the same type of dream since I was a child. I dream that I’m losing control of the wheel of a vehicle and wrecking. When I was younger, I believe I was just riding in the car that was wrecking. I wake up right before I crash screaming, sometimes falling onto the floor. When I’m stressed it happens more. It does happen even when I’m not stressed. Probably twice a week. I wish I had a solution to end this problem.

    • If you keep having that nightmare since you were a child I would recommend going to see a doctor and they might be able to help you.
      Yours faithfully
      Carmen

  • I have struggled with continuous nightmares for as long as I can remember. Every night the horror is generally different but they are so vivid that I wake up at least 3 times a night if not more. I’m thinking they maybe PTSD related due to different traumas I have experienced in my life. I am aware in my dreams and can literally tell my subconscious that I am dreaming. I cannot change what occurs though. I have not slept well in months and when I wake up I have to walk around my house for a bit until I get get my self together and then I go back to sleep and the dream picks up right where it left off…. Any suggestions would be great I am taking melatonin currently but it is beginning to no longer work and I refuse to take pharmaceutical drugs…

    • Hi Amber
      Thanks for your comment. If you have nightmare, perhaps the melatonin could be making them more vivid? If you try going without it for a week, you can see if it’s having an impact.
      And if you feel your nightmares could be connected to trauma, it might be good to speak to a professional about that.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • Hi Ethan

    I was in bed last night, everything went well but then I woke up at 12:00am and I remember having a dream of being chased by zombies on a tennis court, I had woke up in such a Shock I feared I coudnt get out of bed, I was terrified.I finally did go to sleep but when I woke up, I remembered so clearly, it frightens me, I have told my mum about it, she says not to play violent games,I read your info on violent games.But I do not play realistic gun games have you heard of (pixel gun 3D) I play that but there’s no blood or anything it’s like Minecraft.I am only 12 years old)
    Sincerely katie

    • Hi Katie
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, nightmares are very common and sometimes they just happen even if there isn’t anything obvious to cause them. Being chased is one of the most common types of dreams. Some say it’s because it’s a place where our brain can practice what it might do in real life in a scary situation. Obviously you don’t need to practise running away from zombies, but it could be just the brain putting something scary into the dream. It doesn’t really matter if it’s zombies, dogs, people – it’s the idea of practising your skills at escaping. That’s just one theory about why we dream, but I like it because it can help to see the dream/nightmare in a positive way: it’s your brain making you better at things even while you sleep!
      I think if you keep having them, and they are upsetting you, it’s good to talk to your mum about them. I don’t think that game is a scary one from what I can tell, but it is violent in concept. So maybe it’s influencing your dreams. The only way to find out would be to stop playing for a week and see if you have more bad dreams.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • Hello
    As read I feel my 5years old boy is having night terrors.All the symptoms relate but one extra move is that my child vomits along with awakening.He does not remember anything in the morning but that is very upsetting for me as a mother.I am been struggling with this from last 3years which is disturbing me internally.How should I deal with it.Plese help.

    • Hi Harpreet
      Thanks for your comment. That must be very upsetting for you to deal with, as well as for him. I think that it’s important to get a professional medical opinion in this situation. Only a doctor will really be able to help your son I think.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • well i think this could help me to get rid of my nightmares, the worst nightmares i’ve ever seen where the pirates of the carribean was after me, oh my god, i remember everything so cleary that i can make a movie on it, the terror after awakening at nearly 4 am, this was third nightmare this week., and i can’t even tell to my parents, it feels so shameful having nightmares at the age of 16, but it cleary looks like i have my answer now, as you have said it in article playing violent computer games just before doing the bed can lead to having such horrible nightmares, i remember i was playing prince of persia: warrior within just before going to bed so this was the reason, thank you and i think i need to take ome professional help, am already suffering by the symptoms of gamer’ss thumb and i just don’t want another side effect of playing the video games late night.

    • Hi Amit
      Thanks for your comment. I think it’s good to talk about dreams and nightmares – it’s nothing to be ashamed of, and you might find even your parents sometimes have bad dreams. But yes, it sounds like it might benefit you to reduce the game playing late at night. Try giving yourself a gap of at least an hour before bed with no gaming and see if it helps.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • We have been having a lot of trouble with our now 2 and 1/2 yr old daughter for the last 18 months with her sleeping, waking every 2-3 hrs most nights. she has night terrors most likely every night usually 1-2 hrs in And on rare ocassions she has a severe night mare where for hours and some times days latter she thinks things are on her legs or arms or floor or walls and grabs at her self or looks around the room petrified and screaming she is completely awake after these so I’m assuming this is a night made?. Its awful to see her like this and very hard to get her comfortable again in her room. We are hoping too see a sleep studies clinic at end of this year.

    • Hi Shaylie
      Thanks for your comment. I can understand how difficult that must be for you to see and deal with. If she wakes fully afterwards, it’s more likely to be a nightmare. Hopefully the sleep study will be able to shed some light for you, but in the meantime you could try some of the ideas in the article and see if they help a little.
      Regards
      Ethan

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