How to Combat Nightmares | Psych in 60


How to Combat Nightmares

Your brain knows you better than anyone else, and if it wants to get you upset, it knows exactly what to say. The hard part with nightmares is that they can feel intensely real, and our physiology gets engaged – heart racing, feeling distressed.

The best method for managing nightmares is something called imagery rehearsal, where you actually practice a good resolution to the scary content of the dream.

It can also be good to recognize that our dream content tends to be reflective of the emotions we experienced over the past week or two, so we are more likely to have nightmares when we are very stressed.

Daytime stress management, like exercise and deep breathing exercises, can actually help to reduce our vulnerability to nightmares. I always like to be curious as to where the possible content may have originated, and try to question what the fear might mean about my own experience.

The biggest challenge is to really try hard to let yourself be calm, and not fear the images within your brain.

Watch other videos in our Psych in 60 series to learn more about sleep and leave your questions in the comments below!

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Dr. Kristin Daley
Dr. Kristin Daley received her doctorate in clinical health psychology from UNCC. In addition to her doctoral training, she is one of approximately 200 psychologists who completed their certification in behavioral sleep medicine. She is passionate about assisting people in moving into healthy places in life, and spends her free time with her husband and three children.


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