Resolving “Anxiety Dreams”

Q:  I have a hard time getting to sleep, and part of the problem is anxiety and worry.  Just before waking, I often have anxiety dreams, and then the residue stays with me after I awaken.  What’s going on?

When we spontaneously awaken after sleep, we typically are ending a REM dream phase.  So remembering a vivid dream after you awaken is in fact common and normal for this reason.

The emotional content of dreams is another question.  Dreaming is poorly understood and there is not strong consensus among sleep experts.

Are dreams simply random thoughts strung together?  Do we tend to dream about what we are thinking just prior to going to bed?  Do we use dreams to process the previous days events?  Do we, through our dreams, emotionally purge ourselves of traumatic experiences?

Any and all of the above could be happening.

You might benefit by taking a positive view of your dreams , including nightmares.

At the risk of stating the obvious, dreams are not real.  They cannot hurt you.  Rationally, there is no reason to let anxiety “residue” negatively affect your waking hours.

A better, more accurate view might be that in reality your sleeping mind is processing anxiety in a healthy way to help get rid of it — through your dreams.  From this perspective it may then be easier, upon awakening, to just let it go.  And once you are awake and more in conscious control, remember that letting it go is a choice you have and can make.

When it comes to dreams, this much we do know:  excessive levels of anxiety can and will disrupt sleep, and may contribute to dreams with disturbing images.  So learning how to reduce anxiety experienced during waking hours helps.  More specifically, learning how to reduce the impact of the recurring negative thought patterns that underlie and contribute to anxiety will often go a long way to help support better sleep.  And just maybe help contribute to sweet dreams.

You can learn how to sleep better and manage anxiety through a good CBT-based insomnia treatment like the Sleep Training System.  The STS includes components that help you naturally de-stress and control anxiety, in addition to providing you with potent ways to help sleep better permanently — and without the need for drugs of any kind.

Check out the Sleep Training System for more information, and feel free to contact us with your questions about better sleep naturally.

Explore posts in the same categories: Depression, Health, Insomnia, Nightmares, sleep

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