When we think of nightmares” we probably imagine a child crying and calling out for their parent in the middle of the night. Yet, even as adults, we are confronted with bad dreams of our own every now and then. Nightmares can prevent us from getting the restful sleep needed to tackle the next day so it’s important to do what we can to conquer them. At Fred’s Beds, your locally-owned mattress store serving Sandy Springs and surrounding areas, we have compiled a few tips for conquering nightmares and getting that goodnight’s sleep.
Nightmares can certainly be traumatizing for young children given that they have a hard time distinguishing the dream from reality. As adults, we may not suffer as many nightmares as in childhood but, many adults do still have them from time to time.
Like the majority of dreams, nightmares take place during the REM (rapid eye movement) stage of sleep. During this stage, our brains are surprisingly active and actually resemble the brain activity of someone who is awake when examined with an EEG.
The ages of children that report having bad dreams and the frequency with which they report experiencing them can be quite different from adults. A study was conducted by a group of professors on school children 4 – 12 years old and found that 73.3% reported having nightmares. Furthermore, it found that those dreams are “common among 4- to 6-year-olds, become even more frequent in 7- to 9-year-olds and then remain relatively stable in 10- to 12-year-olds.”
For adults, the most common cause of nightmares is related to stress and anxiety. Work, family, even financial issues can play a role in leading to those bad dreams that wake us up in a cold sweat. There can also be illnesses that can act as a contributing factor. Health issues like sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, anxiety, PTSD, and depression can all play a role when having bad dreams as adults.
Of course, we all know that our youngest ones have scary dreams about ghosts, monsters, and other imaginary creatures hiding in the closet or under the bed. However, while nightmares featuring monsters and such are still common, a child’s nightmares become more based in reality as they get older – dreams of being kidnapped, themselves or a loved one getting hurt or being harmed, etc. Most children report their bad dreams being influenced by the information and media they consumed, such as a scary news story about some bad person or event.
Although nobody knows exactly what causes nightmares or how to accurately interpret them, they usually coincide with stressors that the child experiences during the day and seem to be a way of facing or making sense of those stressful experiences. With that said, if your child is having bad dreams more nights than not, think about possible sources of stress and anxiety at school, at home, or anywhere else that can be leading these.
It’s important to understand that nightmares may be a temporary condition, when the stress goes, so may your nightmares. For extreme nightmares or those that seem to hang on for more than a couple weeks, it may be important to seek professional help. This is especially true for health conditions like sleep apnea, which can be very serious.
Establishing a nightly “pre-sleep” routine can help.
While it may seem easy to remind children that a nightmare was just a dream, to them it seemed real and is not so easily forgotten. Make sure validate your child’s feelings about their nightmares and reassure them that there are no monster, they are safe, and help them understand it was just a dream.
Something as simple as a stuffed animal or their baby blanket can give comfort and security to your little one during nighttime stress. Alternatively, introducing a stuffed animal to your child as something that needs comforting at night can allow the child to focus on it rather than their worries. Both methods have been proven to be beneficial.
A child’s imagination is a double-edged sword. That same brain that just dreamed there was a monster in their closet can be used to imagine the monster’s defeat. Play pretend with them for a moment and slay the monster with your magic wand or sword – as we all know, an invisible monster can only be defeated with an equally invisible sword! Let them check things with you if it helps and reassure them the house is monster-free.
Playing pretend doesn’t always work with children and can make some kids think “Well if dad is checking under the bed for a monster then it must be a real possibility!” Explaining to them that dreams only exist in the brain and are simply the imagination can prove to be more effective, particularly in the long run.
Help your child to understand that what happens in dreams is not real and does not necessarily have a meaning or explanation. An exercise to aid in this discussion can be asking them to close their eyes and imagine, as hard as they can, that their hair is a different color. Then, have them open them and look in a mirror to see that what they saw in their imagination is not real. Using logic like this will be easier for kids of elementary age to grasp.
Unfortunately for all of us, it’s not possible to eliminate all nightmares, but we can do as much as possible to make it easier to fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake up feeling rested. A nighttime routine is extremely beneficial for people of any age as it helps condition our brains to start winding down.
A child’s nightly routine of bath time, teeth brushing, and putting on pajamas can put your child’s mind at ease, while including a happy bedtime story can help clear their mind of any negative emotions.
Finally, the importance of a good, quality mattress can’t be understated. Despite the fact that our little ones are seemingly able to fall asleep anywhere and in any position, they still experience soreness and restlessness from an uncomfortable bed. If you or your child is in need of a new or better mattress, our mattress store provides Sandy Springs and surrounding areas with a welcoming, informative, and fun experience for the whole family.
Let Fred’s Beds help you conquer bad dreams and the nightmare of finding a new mattress! With our friendly expert staff, we make finding a new mattress feel like a dream come true. We’re a mattress store in Cumming, conveniently located near Sandy Springs, and proudly serve surrounding metro-Atlanta communities.
So, stop by our mattress store near Sandy Springs as soon as possible to help put those nightmares to bed! Our hours are 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM Monday through Friday and 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM on Saturdays. We hope to see you soon!
Fred’s Beds Mattress Clearance Center
6280 GA Highway 400 North
Cumming GA, 30028