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.
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 , 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.
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 
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.
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.