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How to Stop Nightmares and Get A More Restful Sleep!

How to Stop Nightmares and Get A More Restful Sleep!

Have you ever experienced a bad dream so horrifying that your heart was pounding when you woke up? Perhaps this is a regular occurrence for you, and you’ve started to dread going to bed?

Nightmares can ruin your sleep and leave you feeling exhausted during the day, but fortunately there are steps you can take to get a better night’s rest.

Nightmares are more common in young children, but can affect anyone. They are not harmful, but can result in fatigue if they continue every night or most nights over a long period of time.

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Understand the science behind nightmares, as this may make them less frightening.

When we sleep, we progress through several stages throughout the night. You can think of sleep as occurring in waves or cycles, with each lasting between 90 and 110 minutes. This is further subdivided into five stages, known as Stage 1, Stage 2, Stage 3, Stage 4, and REM sleep. It is in this final stage that dreams and nightmares occur. Scientists are not sure exactly why we dream or precisely how the brain generates this strange experience. One theory is that during REM sleep, the brain may be attempting to form a coherent “story” from fragments of knowledge and memories it previously stored away. Around half of adults will have nightmares occasionally.

So what causes nightmares? According to the [1], the following may trigger nightmares in adults:

1. Stress and Trauma

It is common for those with depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions to experience nightmares. For example, an individual with anxiety disorder may have dreams in which they feel overwhelmed and as though they are facing a danger beyond their control. People who have experienced trauma may also have nightmares in which they relive the incident.

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2. The Undergoing Medication

Some medications affect sleeping patterns, which may trigger nightmares. For example, some anticonvulsants medicines used in the treatment of epilepsy) can result in especially vivid dreams.

3. You Health Conditions

Migraine, restless leg syndrome and sleep apnoea can all cause bad dreams as a result of changes to the sleep-wake cycle.

So if you suffer from nightmares, how can you treat them and enjoy a better night’s sleep? The following steps [2]

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Implement Good Sleep Hygiene

Give yourself the chance to relax before bed. A calm mind is less likely to generate nightmares. Turn off your phone and other electronic devices at least an hour before trying to sleep. Keep your room cool and dark and get into the habit of going to bed and waking up at a reasonable hour. A warm bath or lighthearted book before you turn out the lights may also help.

How about fixing the root cause? Address Stress At The Source maybe?

Since stress and trauma are common causes of nightmares, you need to address these underlying issues in order to solve the problem. It may be a good idea to see a trained counsellor or psychologist if you find that you are plagued by negative thoughts and worries on a regular basis.

Maybe you are having other health problems! Treat Them!

If you know you could do more to manage your health conditions, start taking a more proactive stance! Always comply with the treatment prescribed by your doctor, and work on improving your overall health. For example, restless leg syndrome can result in poor quality sleep and nightmares, but can sometimes be alleviated using exercise and medication.

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Consult Your Doctor About Changing Medication

If you have started experiencing regular nightmares since beginning a new medication or increasing your dose, consult with your doctor. They may reassure you that the nightmares will settle in time, in which case you will simply have to wait a few days or weeks for your body to adjust. However, they may also recommend taking your medicine at a different time of day. For example, taking it in the morning rather than at night may improve your quality of sleep. Your doctor may also be able to prescribe an additional drug to help you sleep more soundly.

Healthy and low stress lifestyle is the best prevent for nightmares!

It is unreasonable to hope that you will never experience another nightmare again. However, you can prevent them from becoming a regular occurrence by doing all you can to live a healthy, low-stress lifestyle. Ensure that you eat a balanced diet, take regular exercise, and maintain a strict routine that promotes good sleep hygiene. You can prevent stress from building up by taking a regular inventory of your overall lifestyle. For instance, if you realize that your job is causing you a great deal of worry even outside working hours, you need to start looking at ways to better cope with the demands placed upon you. If you find yourself often arguing with family members or friends, you may need to work on your communication skills. Striving to lead a less stressful life will benefit you in many ways that go far beyond your sleep patterns.

Reference

More by this author

Jay Hill

Jay writes about communication and happiness on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on September 28, 2020

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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Con #2: Less Human Interaction

One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

Con #4: Unique Distractions

Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

Final Thoughts

Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

More About Working From Home

Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

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