The effects of bad dreams on your sleep and how to deal with them
Teeth falling out? Lost in a field alone? Bugs infesting your personal space? Most of us can remember having at least one of these bad dreams, or similar dreams. Many of these dreams can be disturbing and can also make it harder to get back to sleep – leading to bedtime anxiety for children and adults alike. Read on about how nightmares can affect our rest and how to get back to sleep after having one.
How do bad dreams affect your sleep?
If you’ve ever had trouble falling back to sleep after a nightmare, you’re not alone. An estimated 50% to 85% of adults report having the occasional nightmare. So, what does this mean for our quality of sleep?
On average, it takes children around 21 minutes to fall back asleep after having bad dreams. Adults take even longer to find sleep again. For someone regularly experiencing nightmares, that time soon adds up and your body will begin to feel the effects of poor sleep quality.
Children have nightmares roughly once a month, and for adults, the average is once every two weeks. This means children miss out on over four hours of sleep every year due to nightmares alone – and adults lose a whopping 11.2 hours of sleep for the same reason.
Poor sleep quality: What to look out for in yourself and your child
If you think you’re getting poor sleep, you may notice some of the following symptoms in your daily life.
- You take more than 30 minutes to fall asleep after you get into bed.
- You regularly wake up more than once per night.
- You feel tired and have difficulty focusing during the day.
- Your skin is breaking out and your eyes are puffy, red, or developing dark circles or bags.
- You’re feeling hungrier than usual, especially junk food, and gaining weight.
- You feel more stressed out, emotionally exhausted, and angrier than usual.
If your son or daughter is showing any of the following signs it might be a sign that they are experiencing poor sleep quality.
- Early morning or chronic headaches.
- Problems concentrating and staying awake.
- Poor academic performance.
- Difficulty waking in the morning.
In your dreams
As you might have guessed, our children aren’t haunted by the same bad dreams we are. The most common nightmares for adults tend to be about real-world concerns and issues. Common themes include:
For children, nightmares are more imaginative and supernatural. The top nightmares for children include:
How to fall asleep (again)
After waking, it can be difficult to know how to shake off the bad dreams and drift back into a restful state. We have some recommendations on how to ease your mind or the mind of your child to fall asleep again.
Set up a bedtime routine
First off is preventing the night terrors from happening. Late nights and being over-tired are known triggers for bad dreams in children. Parents can help their kids prevent nightmares by setting up a calming bedtime routine, such as having a regular bedtime and doing soothing pre-bed activities.
A soothing routine before bed is also important for adults to drift into a dreamy sleep. Put your technology away and spend some time reading, doing your skin-care routine or meditating. Don’t let your revenge bedtime procrastination take over your sleep time.
If you’ve just been shaken awake by a bad dream and need to regain your calm, try breathing deeply, focusing on yourself and the slow breaths you’re taking. Teach your little one this technique, too, to help them calm down after experiencing a bad dream.
Music in, bad dreams out
Parents know from experience that lullabies and gentle rhythms can help babies and young kids fall asleep. Luckily, children aren’t the only ones who can benefit from lullabies after waking from nightmares.
People across age groups report better sleep quality after listening to calming music. Low, relaxing music can help you drift back to sleep. The soothing sounds will slow your heart rate and breathing, and lower your blood pressure at the same time.
Avoid scary media
This might seem obvious, but watching a scary movie or reading a scary book can lead to nightmares, so consider taking a break or hitting pause to see if they stop.
Make sure your bed isn’t a nightmare, too!
One thing that might help you get to sleep is a new mattress. Meelu sells a great range of plush mattresses, delivered to your door in just 3 – 7 working days. Test out the comfort for 100 nights, risk-free and get a 15-year warranty when you purchase your Meelu mattress online.
Browse our range of mattresses.