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  • 5/15/2011

Nightmares are not real and can’t hurt you (Part 2)


How Can I Prevent Nightmares?

Although it is normal to have a nightmare once in a while, there are some techniques you can try to get nightmares under control.

Get into a healthy sleep routine. Try to go to bed about the same time and wake up at the same time every day. Unless you’re sick or didn’t get enough sleep the night before, avoid naps during the day.

Avoid eating or exercising just before bedtime. Avoid scary books or movies before bedtime if you think they might be causing your nightmares.

Sleep with a stuffed toy or favorite blanket. This helps some kids feel more secure.

Use a nightlight. Even if you gave up yours up years ago, you might want to turn it back on. With a nightlight, if you awake from a nightmare, you’ll be able to see familiar things and remember where you are.

Keep your door open. This will help you remember that your family is close by. If you are scared, get up and find someone for reassurance. You’re never too old for a hug!

What if the Nightmares Don’t Go Away?

Most of the time, nightmares are not a big problem. It often helps to tell a trusted adult about your bad dreams. Just talking about what happened might make you feel better. If something has been troubling you during the day, discussing those feelings also may help.

Some kids "rewrite" their nightmares by giving them happier outcomes. For example, Ben could imagine hopping on that sea monster and bringing his family along for a great ride. Another trick to get control of your nightmares is to draw a picture of the bad dream and then rip it up!

Sometimes it helps to keep a dream journal, a notebook in which you describe the dreams you can recall. Tracking your dreams — good and bad — and how you felt before you went to sleep can give you a better sense of how your mind works at night.

If you have frequent nightmares, you and your parent might want to see a counselor or a psychologist (say: si-koh-loh-jist) to help you deal with your bad dreams. It will give you a chance to talk about some of the things bothering you that may be related to your nightmares.

Rarely, kids with frequent nightmares may need to visit a doctor or a sleep clinic. A doctor can determine whether your nightmares are the result of a physical condition. A sleep clinic can check your brain waves, muscle activity, breathing, and other things that happen with your body while you sleep. If nothing else seems to work, your doctor may prescribe medicine designed to help you sleep through the night.

father and son

Remember, nightmares are not real and they cannot hurt you. Dreaming about something scary does not mean it will happen in real life. And it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person who wants to do mean or scary things. Everyone has nightmares now and then.

You aren’t a baby if you feel afraid after a nightmare. If you need to snuggle with a parent or even a sister or brother, that’s all right. Sometimes just talking to a parent or grabbing a quick hug may be all you need.

Nightmares may be scary for a little bit, but now you know what to do. Sweet dreams!

Source: kidshealth.org

Other links:

What Sleep Is and Why All Kids Need It (Part 1)

What Sleep Is and Why All Kids Need It (Part 2)

Feeling Too Tall or Too Short (Part 1)

Feeling Too Tall or Too Short (Part 2)

Talking About Your Feelings

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