For some unfortunate people, sleep is not something to look forward to because that is when they are confronted with unpleasant and upsetting dreams, which can be extremely vivid, and sometimes even become full-fledged nightmares.
Nightmare disorder affects approximately 4% of adults, however bad dreams may be a lot more common.
Night after night of losing sleep due to bad dreams can result in a state of exhaustion and even depression, significantly impairing quality of life.
In this article, I explore the various treatment options – both natural and medical – that can help prevent and treat bad dreams.
Table of Contents
- Nightmare-Inducing Medications
- Smoking and Nicotine
- Dietary Factors
- None of this is relevant to me
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Image Rehearsal Therapy
- Lucid Dreaming Therapy
- CBT for insomnia (CBT-I)
- Systematic Desensitization / Graduated Exposure Therapy
- Self-Exposure Therapy
- Exposure, Relaxation, and Rescripting Therapy
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
- Progressive Deep Muscle Relaxation
- Binaural Beats
- Dream Interpretation
- Stress Reduction Methods
- Spiritual Protection
- Dream Herbs and Supplements
- Sleep Herbs
- Chinese Medicine
- Levodopa (L-Dopa)
- Melatonin, 5-HTP & Tryptophan
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
- Bach flower remedies
- Sleeping Ointment
- Herbal Dream Pillows
Treating the Underlying Cause
Bad dreams can have many causes. It is important to recognize what the cause is in each particular case in order to treat it. Otherwise, treating the symptoms will only provide temporary relief.
Why do some people experience bad dreams almost every time they sleep?
This can happen for different reasons, including:
- as a side effect of some medications and drugs, especially anti-depressants and anti-hypertensives (a list is provided below.)
- alcohol and caffeine may cause bad dreams and nightmares and so can some herbs and supplements.
- withdrawal from REM-suppressants and drugs which affect GABA and acetylcholine, such as:
- anti-depressants (including TCAs, SSRIs, and MAOIs)
- because of underlying mental disorders, such as:
- PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), characterized by disturbing thoughts, feelings, or dreams following exposure to a traumatic event
- borderline personality disorder, characterized by a long-term pattern of unstable relationships, distorted sense of self, and strong emotional reactions
- the spectrum of schizophrenia disorders, characterized by relapsing episodes of psychosis
- due to other sleep disorders, including sleep apnea.
- sleep deprivation
- pregnancy – during pregnancy dreams can become more intense and vivid, and there may be an increase in nightmares and anxious dreams due to hormonal changes.
If there is an underlying PTSD or other disorders, then these must be treated.
Any medical condition that afflicts the nervous system may trigger nightmares, including brain parasites and tumors. Therefore, do not neglect to visit a neurologist before attempting to cure the problem on your own.
If bad dreams are caused by drugs or medications, then these should be changed or stopped (by the prescribing physician.)
- serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
- selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
- tricyclic anti-depressants (TCAs)
- bupropion (Wellbutrin)
- prazosin (Minipress, Vasoflex, Lentopres)
- methyldopa (Aldomet)
- clonidine (Catapres)
- beta blockers
- benzodiazepine receptor agonists (BZRAs) tend to cause abnormal dreams
- benzodiazepines, especially triazolam (Halcion)
- chloral hydrate
- carbidopa-levodopa (Atamet, Carbilev, Sinemet)
- pramipexole (Mirapex, Mirapexin, Sifrol)
- ropinirole (Requip, Repreve, Ronirol)
- erythromycin (Eryc, Erythrocin)
- hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil)
- quinolones, such as:
- levofloxacin (Levaquin, Tavanic, Iquix)
- ciprofloxacin (Ciloxan, Cipro, Neofloxin)
- anti-viral agents:
- zanamivir (Relenza)
- ganciclovir (Cytovene, Cymevene, Vitrasert)
- buspirone (Buspar)
- varenicline (Champix, Chantix)
- first and second generation anti-psychotics
- amiodarone (Cordarone, Nexterone, Pacerone)
- montelukast (Singulair) – may cause dream abnormalities
- donepezil (Aricept) – may cause disturbing/abnormal dreams
- stimulant medications (both during chronic use and withdrawal)
Smoking and Nicotine
Nicotine has a profound impact on dreaming.
A 2006 study published in the Physiology & Behavior journal found that a 24-hours transdermal nicotine patch may cause awakenings during sleep as well as vivid dreams even though the percentage of REM sleep decreased.
Nicotine dreams may have a disturbing quality to them.
Dairy products, particularly cheese, may increase the likelihood of suffering from bizarre and nightmarish dreams, especially if a MAOI (monoamine oxidase inhibitor) is taken concurrently, which suggests that the tyramine content in cheese is the culprit.
Alternatively, “cheese-induced dreams” can result from the amino acid, tryptophan, which is also present in cheese (as well as other foods, such as seeds, meats, and eggs). Tryptophan becomes serotonin in the brain, and as we shall see later, increased serotonin levels are associated with vivid dreams.
Spicy food may also adversely affect dreams. A 1992 study published in the International Journal of Psychophysiology found that including Tabasco sauce and mustard in an evening meal disturbs sleep, reducing deep sleep and increasing total time awake.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), a vitamin which exists in high amounts in meats and fish, sweet potatoes, and bananas, is also believed to increase dream vividness. A 2018 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in the Perceptual and Motor Skills journal found that vitamin B6 significantly increased the amount of dream content participants recalled.
Eating a large meal near bedtime in general – no matter what you eat – can be a trigger for bad dreams, particularly if it contains large amounts of tryptophan and vitamin B6 or if it is very spicy.
None of this is relevant to me
When a specific cause for the bad dreams cannot be determined, what can be done?
There are therapies which can help us transform our dreams. They can empower us to work with our bad dreams, exploring them and learning from them, and even changing them according to our will.
Before we get to these therapies, however, let us briefly review the pharmaceutical approach to treating bad dreams.
Medications for Treatment of Nightmares
The first-line pharmacological treatment for both nightmare disorder and PTSD-associated nightmares is the drug prazosin (Minipress, Vasoflex, Lentopres), which, interestingly, may also cause nightmares.
Other drugs your sleep specialist might recommend for treatment of nightmare disorder are benzodiazepine hypnotics, which may cause sedation, anterograde amnesia, as well as reduction in REM and deep sleep. For example:
- nitrazepam (Mogadon)
- triazolam (Halcion) – this drug may cause nightmares.
If you have a PTSD-diagnosis and suffer from nightmares, then your doctor may recommend one of the following medications:
- atypical antipsychotics – sedating and may cause nightmares, disturbing dreams, and severe low blood pressure:
- olanzapine (Zyprexa) – increases the deeper stages of sleep, while reducing REM sleep
- risperidone (Risperdal) – reduces REM sleep
- aripiprazole (Abilify) – least sedating of the atypical antipsychotics
- clonidine (Catapres) – increases deep sleep, while reducing REM sleep; may cause nightmares.
- cyproheptadine (Periactin) – an anti-histamine, which may cause sedation.
- fluvoxamine (Luvox) – a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) with anti-depressant and anxiolytic properties; reduces REM sleep and total sleep time and may cause daytime sedation and insomnia.
- gabapentin (Neurontin) – anti-seizure drug; sedating and may increase deep sleep by enhancing GABA activity.
- nabilone (Cesamet, Canemes) – a synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonist with anti-emetic and analgesic properties
- phenelzine (Nardil) – a potent monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI)
- topiramate (Topamax, Trokendi XR, Qudexy XR) – an anti-convulsant
- trazodone (Desyrel) – sedating, may increase deep sleep, and has little effect on REM.
- tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) – suppress REM sleep; may cause nightmares.
So, you got your prescriptions. Will these medications take care of the problem?
Not necessarily. While many physicians prefer to prescribe drugs, medications are not more effective than behavioral or psychological therapies.
The evidence behind the use of most of these drugs for treatment of bad dreams is weak. Moreover, many medications cause side effects and may dangerously interact with other drugs, supplements, and even foods.
Some of the drugs paradoxically may even cause nightmares and bad dreams.
Let us then move forward and review some better alternatives.
Behavioral and Psychological Treatment Options for Nightmare Disorder
If you’re lucky, your doctor will recommend behavioral/psychological treatments in addition to prescribing medications.
What are the treatment options?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is used both for the treatment of PTSD-associated nightmares and for the treatment of nightmare disorder.
It is a short-term, goal-oriented psychotherapy which attempts to change a person’s dysfunctional thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.
Image rehearsal therapy (IRT) is recommended both for the treatment of PTSD-associated nightmares and nightmare disorder.
It is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) technique in which you create an alternative, positive dream scenario, and rehearse it for 10-20 minutes every day with the hope that it will alter the content of the nightmare.
Lucid dreaming therapy (LDT) is used for the treatment of nightmare disorder. (As well as for insomnia.)
LDT is a variant of IRT. The difference is that with this technique, you try to change the content of the nightmare while dreaming by becoming aware that you’re dreaming (lucid dreaming).
Anecdotal evidence suggest that lucid dreaming may even help with PTSD-induced nightmares.
A variant of CBT targeting the symptoms of insomnia, CBT-I is used for the treatment of PTSD-associated nightmares.
Systematic Desensitization / Graduated Exposure Therapy
Systematic desensitization is used for the treatment of nightmare disorder.
It is a type of behavioral therapy which involves gradually exposing the patient to what s/he fears to make coping with the stressors less overwhelming.
Self-exposure therapy is used for the treatment of nightmare disorder.
Like systematic desensitization, it utilizes graded exposure. The patient moves on a daily basis through the situations on the a hierarchical list of anxiety-provoking dreams at a comfortable pace, starting with lowest anxiety situation, until the fear/anxiety has decreased.
Exposure, Relaxation, and Rescripting Therapy
Exposure, relaxation, and rescripting therapy (ERRT) is used for the treatment of PTSD-associated nightmares and for the treatment of nightmare disorder.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is used for the treatment of PTSD-associated nightmares.
It is a psychotherapeutic intervention which attempts to facilitate the processing of disturbing memories and experiences by stimulating neural mechanisms (through bilateral eye movements, tones, and taps) that are similar to those activated during REM sleep.
Hypnosis is used for the treatment of nightmare disorder.
It creates a trance-like state of mind which allows the mind to be open to suggestions which can be used to modify certain thoughts or behaviors.
Progressive deep muscle relaxation (PDMR) is used for the treatment of nightmare disorder.
It involves tensing and releasing muscles, one body part at a time, in order to induce physical relaxation as well as reduce anxiety and stress.
Unproven Treatment Strategies
Up until now I have presented the current medical approach to dealing with nightmares. Below you will find additional suggestions, which have no scientific evidence to back them up.
When two different sound waves, with frequencies lower than 1500 Hz and with less than a 40 Hz difference between them, are heard one through each ear, an illusory sound is heard in the frequency of the difference between the two real sounds. This illusory sound is known as a binaural beat.
Binaural beats therapy is claimed to have many benefits, including reduced stress and anxiety.
Some binaural beats can induce a state of relaxation and even help fall asleep, which is why they may help with insomnia.
To induce a specific state of consciousness using binaural beats, you want to listen to a binaural beat in the same frequency as the brain waves which characterize that state of consciousness.
- Gamma waves (30-40 Hz) – lucid dreaming
- Beta waves (12-30 Hz) – waking
- Alpha waves (8-12 Hz) – relaxation
- Theta waves (4-8 Hz) – light sleep
- Delta waves (0.5-4 Hz) – deep sleep
So to counter bad dreams, you have three options:
- You can listen to binaural beats in a frequency less than 4 Hz to promote deeper sleep.
- Or, you can ramp the frequency to higher than 30 Hz to encourage lucidity during dreams. (Useful when going through lucid dreaming therapy.)
- Combine the two approaches by listening to 4 Hz during the first half of the night when one should mostly experience deep sleep, and change it to 30 Hz during the second half of the night, when dreams are common.
If you cannot determine what causes your nightmares, the answer can sometimes be found in the dreams themselves. Deconstructing dreams and interpreting them in order to unravel their sometimes hidden guidance can be insightful.
For that purpose, keep a dream journal and record your dreams daily. Then, analyze them on your own or with the guidance of a dream therapist.
Sometimes “getting the message,” is enough to rid yourself of the dreams, whose only goal was to bring you to a certain understanding.
Stress Reduction Methods
If there is no apparent cause for your bad dreams, they may simply be a result of stress. Not only Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder causes nightmares, but also just regular stress, which can manifest as difficulty falling asleep, unsatisfying sleep, fatigue on waking, night terrors, broken sleep, dreams, and nightmares.
If you are very stressed, try a few stress-reduction techniques, particularly 1-2 hours before bedtime, and see if they help, for example:
- Avoiding listening/watching the news, exciting/upsetting films, etc.
- Relaxation techniques – such as progressive muscle relaxation
- A meditation practice
- Breathing techniques
- Listening to music
- Moderate exercise
- Guided imagery
- Warm bath
There are also herbs which can help deal with stress, but more on that below.
Finally, when nothing else works, the cause may be “spiritual.”
In order to deal with negative “energies,” sleep and dream crystals and other “magical” objects, such as a dream catcher, can be used. For example, you can wear a talisman or put a crystal in your pocket, on the bedside table, or under the pillow.
Praying or reciting a mantra before bed may help.
In the realm of spirituality, faith is the key. So do something you believe will work. If you’re skeptic, then this will probably not work for you.
Natural Dream Suppressants
Treating the underlying cause is not always enough. PTSD-associated nightmares can persist even after the PTSD resolves. Also, sometimes the cause cannot be determined. And some people simply prefer not to use pharmaceuticals, so are there any natural alternatives?
Acquiring a natural ally to help dream better is always a good idea.
Natural dream suppressants should exhibit one or all of the following actions:
- Interfere with dream recall
- Reduce dreaming/REM sleep
- Change the dreams, making them less vivid or threatening
Using herbs to change or suppress dreams can help you catch up on some much needed sleep, however they do not fix the underlying problem, and your subconscious may still require healing in order to attain a healthy state of mind.
Below are some herbs and substances that can be considered natural dream suppressants. (However, there is no scientific evidence that they can prevent or cure bad dreams and nightmares.)
Remember that herbs are often as powerful as drugs and there may be important interactions and contraindications. So always consult with your physician before starting a new herbal regime.
Cannabis causes a mild reduction in REM sleep, and therefore dreaming, however its most potent action is to interfere with short-term memory. Many people notice that while they chronically smoke cannabis, they fail to remember their dreams almost every night, even if they set a strong intention to remember them.
If you want to use cannabis, for example, if you live in a place where it is legal, keep in mind that low-THC strains should be used if there’s an anxiety problem. High-THC Cannabis strains can trigger anxiety.
Also, it may be better to use Cannabis indica strains, which are more sedative than the energizing Cannabis sativa strains.
Alcohol is an even better REM suppressant than cannabis. It can also help you fall asleep faster and sleep longer and deeper during the first half of the night.
However, in the second half of the night, a REM rebound may occur as well as an increase in dreaming together with sympathetic arousal (associated with the “fight-or-flight response”), potentially resulting in higher chances of experiencing bad dreams, and even nightmares.
Moreover, alcohol damages the liver and may cause dependency, associated with reduced total sleep time and fragmented sleep.
Withdrawal symptoms often include insomnia, reduction of total sleep time, deep sleep, and REM rebound along with nightmares.
While dream herbs are usually employed to induce dreaming, they may also help with changing the dreams.
The supplement galantamine (Razadyne) can also be used to induce lucid dreaming as well as trigger long vivid, yet pleasant dreams. However, galantamine should not be taken more than 1-2 times per week because if it is not allowed to completely clear out of the body, dreams can become bizarre, and even nightmarish. Using Piracetam can help prevent this phenomena.
Fly agaric mushroom (Amanita muscaria) is a potent sleep and dream mushroom, which may improve the content of the dreams and dream recall as well as facilitate lucidity, however it may also make dreams more vivid and intense. Also, it is a strong sedative, which affects the brain much like benzodiazepines.
Pharmacological MAOIs are potent REM suppressors and may cause almost total disappearance of REM.
What effects do herbal MAOIs have on dreams?
A 2008 study published in the Psychopharmacology journal found that daytime ingestion of Ayahuasca (a medicinal tea made from Banisteriopsis caapi which contains MAO-inhibiting beta-carboline alkaloids such as harmaline) inhibits REM sleep, decreasing its duration, both in absolute values and as a percentage of total sleep time.
A 2017 study published in the Sleep Science journal found that an extract of Passiflora incarnata increased total sleep time and deep sleep. REM sleep was reduced, both in frequency and duration. This study however was done on rats.
Another study used cats who received threshold doses of harmaline (2-3 mg/kg) following which REM sleep was suppressed for 7 hours.
While I could not locate conclusive findings regarding the effects of harmala alkaloids on REM sleep in humans, these plants have the potential of reducing REM, and may therefore reduce dreaming.
Other Helpful Herbs & Supplements
Besides Passionflower, there are other sleep herbs, which may improve the quality of sleep in various ways when they are taken before bedtime.
Some example are:
- Hops (Humulus lupulus) – this calming and sedating herb can improve sleep quality and help with restlessness, anxiety, and sleep disturbances.
- Damiana (Turnera diffusa) – a moderate-strength relaxing nervine and a mild euphoriant.
- Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) – reduces tension, anxiety, and stress and promotes sleep.
- Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) – a sedative used to treat nervousness, insomnia, and anxiety.
- Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) – a calming herb used to treat anxiety and sleep difficulties.
- Wild lettuce (Lactuca virosa) – a nervine and hypnotic used to treat insomnia and restlessness.
- German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) – a nervine used to treat insomnia, stress, and anxiety.
- Kava kava (Piper methysticum) – a relaxing nervine and hypnotic used to treat anxiety and mild insomnia.
- California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) – a nervine and hypnotic used to treat sleeplessness in children.
Adaptogens are herbs which increase the body’s resistance to stressors and its general capacity to withstand stressful situations. They should be taken in the morning as they may be stimulating/energizing.
- Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) – helps combat anxiety, stress, and insomnia. It is calming and promotes deep, dreamless sleep.
- Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) – beneficial against the effects of prolonged stress such as insomnia and improves well-being.
- Korean ginseng (Panax ginseng) and American/Canadian ginseng (Panax quinquefolius)
- Chinese magnolia-vine (Schisandra chinensis)
- Holy basil (Ocimum sanctum)
In Chinese medicine, an unstable spirit (caused by a yin/blood heart deficiency), brings on insomnia as well as excessive dreaming. This condition is treated with acupuncture, nutrition, and spirit stabilizing herbal remedies as well as by treating the root cause.
Liver heat, for example, can cause yin to be consumed in excess, leaving the heart with no sufficient yin to stabilize the spirit. Specific herbs that help sedate liver heat/fire, include:
- Huang Lian (Coptis spp.) – interestingly, this plant contains berberine, an alkaloid which inhibits tyramine (the substance that may be responsible for the dream effects caused by cheese)
- Long Dan Cao (Gentiana spp.)
Herbs which calm and nourish the spirit and heart include:
- Suan Zao Ren (Ziziphus jujuba) – used to treat insomnia or difficulty falling or staying asleep, excessive dreaming, shallow sleep with a tendency to wake easily, and fatigue.
- Yuan Zhi (Polygala spp.) – used to treat insomnia and excessive dreaming
- Ye Jiao Teng (Polygonum multiflorum) – used to treat insomnia, difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, and excessive dreams.
- Xiao Mai (Triticum aestivum; common wheat) – used to treat Zang Zao, a Chinese term more or less corresponding to PTSD, which involves symptoms such as excessive worrying, anxiety, frequent melancholy and crying spells, dream-disturbed sleep, and depression.
- Ci Wu Jia (Eleutherococcus senticosus) – used to relieve insomnia or dream-disturbed sleep
- Wu Wei Zi (Schisandra chinensis) – used to treat yin and blood deficiencies with symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia, and dream-disturbed sleep
- Lian Zi (Nelumbo nucifera) – used to treat anxiety, dream-disturbed sleep, and insomnia
- Lian Xu (Nelumbo nucifera) – used for excessive dreaming at night
There are also Chinese herbal blends which may help combat bad dreams through multiple mechanisms.
An Mian Pian (peaceful sleep tablet), for example, is used for:
- Disturbing dreams
- Many dreams
- Mental hyperactivity
- Nervous breakdown
- Restless sleep
Bai Zi Yang Xin Wan is another formulation which can help with:
- Disturbing dreams
- Night sweating
- Restless sleep
Learn more about herbs for insomnia in Chinese medicine.
L-dopa is an amino acid which in the body is turned into the neurotransmitter dopamine.
Increased dopamine levels due to L-dopa supplementation can make dreams more vivid and longer in duration. For some people it may be a trigger for nightmares, however others report dreams in which one experiences extreme confidence and a total lack of fear.
Dopamine lucid dreams are characterized by an increased ability to control the dream, which would be beneficial for those undergoing lucid dreaming therapy.
Melatonin, 5-HTP, and the amino acid tryptophan are precursors of serotonin. When they are ingested, they enter the brain, where they increase serotonin levels.
Increased serotonin levels in the brain during sleep may improve sleep quality, but also cause vivid dreams.
For the first 1-2 hours, REM sleep is suppressed and one experiences restorative, uninterrupted deep sleep. Then, as serotonin levels start dropping, the REM rebound effect occurs, and the brain compensates for losing REM by creating longer and more intense dreaming periods.
Serotonin dreams tends to be calm, relaxing, and vivid, but are sometimes more difficult to recall.
Combining a MAOI with 5-HTP (which may be dangerous) or taking it after 3-4 hours of sleep in cases where the bad dreams occur during the second half of the night, may help prevent bad dreams.
Some people with PTSD only get nightmares if they sleep 3 hours or longer. This is because normally REM periods, where nightmares occur, are short during the first half of the night, and longer during the second half. Setting an alarm to wake yourself after 3 hours, then taking a REM suppressor can work to prevent nightmares.
Piracetam is a nootropic, or “smart” drug, a substance which is believed to have a positive impact on cognitive function.
It significantly suppresses dreaming and inhibits dream recall.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
We saw that vitamin B6 may improve dream recall, which can make you remember your dreams, including any bad dreams you may have.
Another vitamin B, thiamine (vitamin B1), has been used successfully to treat patients with anxiety disorders, including symptoms manifesting as chronic fatigue, insomnia, nightmares, and depression.
Homeopathy is a system of alternative medicine, which uses extremely minute amounts of natural substances, like plants and minerals to stimulate the body’s ability to heal itself.
Homeopathic remedies which may help with bad dreams include:
- Ignatia – used for insomnia due to emotional upset , which is accompanied by long and troubling nightmares.
- Arsenicum – used for anxious and disturbed sleep with fearful dreams full of insecurity.
- Silicea – used for anxious dreams.
Bach flower remedies
Bach flower remedies are solutions of brandy and water, based on the principles of homeopathy, which contain extreme dilutions of flowers of wild plants.
Recommended Bach flower remedies for bad dreams include:
Dreams can be affected by plants even without internal use.
A sleeping ointment is a narcotic ointment, containing sedating ingredients which are can be absorbed through the skin, such as:
- Thorn apple (Datura spp.)
- Henbane (Hyoscyamus spp.)
- Wild lettuce (Lactuca virosa)
- Mandrake (Mandragora spp.)
- Kava kava (Piper methysticum)
- Black nightshade (Solanum nigrum)
- Blue lotus flower (Nymphaea caerulea)
- Fly agaric mushroom (Amanita muscaria)
In addition to absorbing sleep promoting chemicals through the skin, they can be inhaled. There are essential oils which have a sedating/calming quality and also some which are claimed to affect dreams.
Some ways to inhale volatile oils include:
- a few drops on the pillow
- massage oils – dilute (10-12 drops of essential oil per ounce of vegetable oil, such as sweet almond oil)
- baths – add 5 drops to a warm water bath. Stir and relax in bath for 10-15 minutes.
- put 2 drops in a bowl filled with hot water, cover head and bowl with towel and breath deeply.
- use an essential oil diffuser.
It’s important to choose a scent that feels good to you. Here are some suggestions:
- Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus) essential oil is said to prevent nightmares and help remember good dreams.
- Lavender (Lavandula spp.) essential oil is often used for insomnia and is said to promote peaceful sleep
- German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) and lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) are also relaxing.
- Tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum; holy basil) allegedly prevents nightmares.
- Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) too is said to relieve nightmares.
Herbal Dream Pillows
Another way to utilize aromatherapy is by using herbal sleep and dream pillows. These are pillows stuffed with sleep-inducing herbs.
Beneficial herbs for sleep pillows include:
- Lavender (Lavandula spp.)
- Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
- Linden (Tilia platyphyllos) – relaxing
- German chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
- Catnip (Nepeta cataria) – a relaxing sedative
- Hops (Humulus lupulus) – promote calm and to relieve difficulty in sleeping
Following some of the advice in this article may cause having less REM sleep. Should you be concerned about not getting enough REM?
REM sleep is important, however deep sleep may be even more important. And the body will usually compensate for loss of this sleep stage (REM rebound effect). For example, if you manage not to have REM sleep at all for a night, then the next night, you may sleep into REM sleep immediately (reduced REM latency).
This highlights the fact that suppressing REM sleep is a symptomatic treatment, and not a cure. It is crucial to determine not why bad dreams are happening, but why they are happening to you.
I’m here to help you figure it out.