Anxiety Dreams: Prevention and Coping Strategies

Updated on 18 August 2022

All of us know the benefits of a good night’s sleep. After a long day, a good sleep recharges your body and mind, and you wake up the next day feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. When we are facing stressful times and life challenges, quality sleep becomes a coping essential, so when anxiety creeps into our dreams, sleep might not be the restful rejuvenation we’re seeking. Entertaining, disturbing or downright bizarre, dreams are hallucinations that occur during certain stages of sleep and are a way in which the mind processes emotions. Since, we do not have control over what we dream, when we are under stress, our dreams often turn into those driven by anxiety and unease.

Anxiety Dreams: Recognition and Causes

In simple terms, an anxiety dream refers to any dream that causes stress or distress. Recognizing them is easy since any dream that makes you nervous or panicky after waking up or even through the day can be categorized as an anxiety dream. Nightmares can also be referred to as anxiety dreams for they inspire feelings of intense fear. Usually, though, these dreams don’t signify anything deeper than perhaps some subconscious worries. Other causes of anxiety-ridden dreams include,

  • Fear and Stress
  • Traumatic events / Childhood trauma
  • Recent life changes provoking uncertainty or distress
  • Disrupted sleep
  • External factors like consumption of alcohol or other medications

Everyone faces stress in their lives but it must not control us. Managing anxious thoughts and reducing daytime anxiety are extremely important for our sleep and overall well-being. Listed below are some ways in which one can prevent and cope with anxiety dreams, and ensure a good night’s sleep.

  • Practicing a calming bedtime routine: Turn off all electronics an hour before bed and try reading a book, listening to music, taking a hot bath or even meditating. Journaling can help release negative thoughts as you jot them down. If anxiety dreams do wake you up, stay away from your phone or even constantly check the clock.
  • Avoid stressful activities before sleeping: If you go over your finances, emails or distressing conversations right before sleeping, your mind tends to ponder over them for an elongated time instead of trying to get some rest, which only invokes anxiety and hinders your sleep.
  • Exercise: Thirty minutes of cardio/aerobic exercises daily will increase endorphin levels and body temperature, both of which will help your body fall faster into a peaceful rest mode.
  • Talk to someone: Sharing thoughts that frighten or disturb you with someone you trust can reduce the impact of these feelings. Sharing a burden lightens it, so opening up about anxiety to a loved one can help improve the symptoms.

Getting Help

It’s always wise to seek professional support if your symptoms are consistent and begin affecting your work, relationships, or overall quality of life. Talking to a therapist can also help you begin addressing anxiety while awake, stress, or any other mental health symptoms you’ve noticed.‍






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