Getting a good night’s sleep allows your body to recharge, preparing for you to grind the next day. However, if you’re suffering from anxiety or are relatively stressed due to a major life change, you might find yourself having stress dreams.
These dreams do not let you sleep restfully and may make you feel unpleasant upon waking up. Along with keeping you up at night, they also end up increasing your worry, making you have a constant feeling that something bad will happen soon.
If you can relate to this, you may have often wondered what causes them and how stress dreams affect your sleep. In this guide, we’ll answer this question along with discussing natural remedies to help sleep quickly and soundly.
Do Dreams Affect Your Sleep?
At the moment, scientists don’t clearly understand why we dream or the mechanism that goes behind the process.
However, experts do suggest that dreaming is a part of sleeping, and it might be linked to emotional processing, effective thinking, and building memories.
Therefore, dreaming may reflect that you have a good sleeping regimen.
However, dreaming isn’t always a good sign, especially if you’re having nightmares or your dreams are keeping you up at night. While some dreams negatively affect your sleep, others may traumatize or scare you.
Effect of Nightmares On Sleep
Having a nightmare once in a blue moon isn’t concerning as it does not have a considerable effect on your sleep quality or duration.
On the contrary, if you’re having consistent nightmares, this could be an alarming signal.
For one, you’ll have trouble falling asleep because you’re scared of things you see when sleeping. You may likely be a victim of nightmare disorder. It is characterized by the occurrence of nightmares that interrupt the sufferer’s sleep and daytime mood.
If you suffer from a nightmare disorder, you’ll have a hard time dozing off. Furthermore, you will awaken more times during the night and may end up avoiding sleep altogether due to the fear of upsetting or disturbing dreams.
As a result, people with nightmare disorder often also suffer from insomnia and are usually sleep-deprived.
If you’re frequently having nightmares, it’s a sign that you need to talk to a doctor. Besides disturbing your nighttime routine, nightmares will also impact your day, putting you in a sulky mood and making you jumpy.
That’s why it’s crucial to get help as soon as you can.
Why Do Stress Dreams Happen?
While nightmares are scary and often upsetting, stress dreams are anxiety-inducing. In fact, they’re a double-edged sword, being both a cause and effect of anxiety.
In short, a stress dream is caused by stress and may lead to even more anxiety and tension.
You don’t only feel panicked at night or when you wake up after a dream, but the sensation may last for the whole day, making you feel uneasy for many hours. Here are some causes of stress dreams:
- Fear of something
- A significant life change that has caused you immense stress
- Traumatic life events
- Substance use
To understand why stress dreams occur, you must know that your brain is active even when you’re sleeping. During this time, the brain does different activities such as the upkeep of essential body reactions.
Experts suggest that the brain might also be involved in memory creation during this time.
If you were stressed out during the day due to any reason, it’s likely to transcend into your dreams, too, making you have a stress dream.
However, it’s not a given that you’ll have stress dreams if you’re anxious. But anxiety can definitely trigger these dreams. According to a 2014 study, people with a generalized anxiety disorder had more bad dreams than the study subjects without anxiety.
Moreover, these individuals had higher anxiety levels during the day and overall low life quality.
Natural Remedies to Help Sleep
Now that you know how stress dreams affect your sleep, you must want to learn how to combat this problem. Fortunately, there are many natural remedies to help sleep better.
If you wake up from a stress dream and your body refuses to go back to sleep mode, you should do a relaxing activity. Make sure it’s not something that completely wakes you up. Instead, you can try one of the following things:
- Listen to ASMR videos
- Listen to a podcast (go for a soothing and calming option rather than something that requires constant attention)
- Slow, quiet music
- A warm drink (chamomile tea or a cup of milk)
- A slow-paced book
- Breathing exercises
Forget the Clock
If you wake up in the middle of the night and are unable to sleep, looking at the clock again and again won’t help at all. It will only make you more anxious about the fact that you’re not getting enough sleep to be well-rested the next day.
As more time passes, you’ll get more frustrated with yourself, making it even harder for your body to rest.
Instead, only check the time once when you wake up. After that, don’t look at the time on your phone or the clock.
Since stress dreams are a result of excessive daytime stress, it helps to have healthy stress-relieving habits. If something, in particular, is bothering you, talk to someone you trust. Spend time with your loved ones.
Have a Relaxing Bedtime Routine
What you do before bed also affects your dreams. Make sure you stay away from the TV or the phone before going to bed. Instead, take a relaxing bath, listen to music, read a book, or meditate to calm your body.
Stress dreams can be concerning, especially if they’re affecting your daytime chores and activities. Thus, you should try natural remedies to help sleep restfully and start a relaxing nighttime routine. If things don’t get better, speak to a professional.