Throughout your night's sleep, you transition through two sleep phases. These include rapid eye movement or REM sleep and non-REM sleep, according to KidsHealth.org. These cycles alternate every 90 minutes, and during REM sleep, you have the most vivid dreams. During this time, nightmares can occur. Nightmares can be a reflection of a stressful day, medications taken or frightening visual images observed right before you go to sleep. Because nightmares can affect the quality of your sleep, it's important to practice a sleep routine that ensures you have good dreams for a more peaceful night's sleep.
Avoid watching a scary movie or reading a frightening book before you go to sleep. You may carry this state of fear with you while you sleep, which could result in bad dreams, according to KidsHealth.org.
Establish a consistent sleep routine that ensures you get enough sleep. For adults, this is roughly between seven and eight hours per night, according to HelpGuide.org. Teenagers, however, may need up to nine hours of sleep per night. Getting less than this amount of sleep can result in more vivid dreams, according to Scientific American. Sleep deprivation results in a more vivid dream state, which could cause you to sleep restlessly.
Avoid taking medications or using other stimulants that can affect your sleep. These include alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, blood pressure medications and antidepressants, according to Scientific American. While taking these may initially suspend REM state and keep you from going into deeper stages of sleep, once you stop taking them, you will experience deeper REM sleep, which can result in nightmares, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
Do something relaxing before going to sleep. Because stress can lead to nightmares, it's best to do an activity that helps you to feel more at ease. These include taking a soak in your bathtub, reading a book, listening to music or meditating in order to relax.
Designate your bedroom as only for sleep and intimacy and make the bedroom as comfortable and soothing as possible. This means having a comfortable mattress with shade-blocking curtains and the room at a comfortable temperature. By ensuring that you only focus on sleep and relaxation while in your bedroom, you are likely to experience better dreams.
If you follow the tips listed above, yet still experience nightmares, consider a visit to your physician, who may be able to tell you if your bad dreams are related to your medications or health or if they could be a sign you should see a psychologist, who may be able to help you discuss any stressful issues related to your dreams.