How to Go Back to Sleep After a Nightmare?

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Written By Tony Garrett

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How to Go Back to Sleep After Nightmare?

Waking up from a nightmare can be a jarring experience that can make it difficult to fall back asleep. However, there are several techniques you can try to calm yourself down and get back to sleep. Some of these include writing down your nightmare, avoiding checking the time, giving yourself a reality check, practicing breathing techniques, keeping the lights low, drinking water, making some decaf tea, taking a walk around your home, listening to soothing music, and staying at a comfortable temperature. These strategies can help you relax and ease post-nightmare anxieties, allowing you to have a restful sleep.

The Benefits of Nightmares

While nightmares can be terrifying, they actually serve a purpose. According to Psychology Today, nightmares help your mind and body work through anxiety, trauma, or stress. They can provide an opportunity for your brain to process and organize the events of the day.

Though nightmares can be distressing in the moment, they can also offer valuable insights and serve as a catalyst for personal growth. By exploring the themes and emotions present in your nightmares, you may be able to uncover deeper fears or unresolved issues that require attention. This self-reflection can lead to increased self-awareness and an opportunity to address and overcome these challenges.

Furthermore, nightmares can act as a warning sign for excessive stress in your life. Frequent nightmares may indicate that your mind and body are struggling to cope with high levels of stress or unresolved emotional trauma. By acknowledging and addressing the underlying causes of stress, you can effectively manage and reduce the occurrence of nightmares.

How Nightmares Relate to Stress

Nightmares and stress are deeply intertwined. When you experience stress during the day, your mind and body may continue to process these stressors during sleep, leading to the occurrence of nightmares. Similarly, the fear and anxiety experienced during a nightmare can also contribute to increased stress levels, creating a cycle that perpetuates the occurrence of nightmares.

Understanding the link between nightmares and stress is crucial for improving your overall well-being. By implementing stress management strategies such as meditation, exercise, and seeking support from loved ones or professionals, you can mitigate the impact of stress on your sleep and reduce the occurrence of nightmares.

Nightmare Benefits Stress Reduction Strategies
Opportunity for self-reflection and personal growth Implement relaxation techniques such as meditation or deep breathing
Identification of underlying fears and unresolved issues Maintain a consistent sleep schedule
Warning sign for excessive stress in life Reduce caffeine and alcohol consumption

Strategies to Fall Back Asleep After a Nightmare

If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night after a nightmare and struggle to fall back asleep, there are several techniques you can try to get back to sleep. Firstly, it’s important to create a calm sleep environment by avoiding bright lights and loud sounds. These stimuli can disrupt your relaxation and make it harder to soothe your mind and body.

Getting out of bed and moving to a different room can help shift your focus away from the nightmare and create a fresh start. Avoid staring at the clock as it can increase your anxiety about not being able to fall back asleep. Additionally, resist the temptation to check your phone or other screens, as the blue light emitted can suppress melatonin production and make it more difficult to get sleepy again.

Meditation and breathing exercises are effective techniques for relaxing your mind and body. Taking slow, deep breaths can help calm your nervous system and promote feelings of relaxation. You can also try listening to soothing music or performing a full-body muscle relaxation exercise to unwind further. Alternatively, focusing on something boring, like counting backwards from 100 or visualizing a peaceful scene, can help distract your thoughts from the nightmare and lull you back to sleep.

Another crucial aspect is to keep your bedroom dark and free of stimulating activities. Darkness signals to your body that it’s time for sleep, while engaging in stimulating activities can make it harder for you to unwind. By implementing these strategies, you can increase your chances of falling back asleep after a nightmare and ensure a restful night’s sleep.


Techniques to Fall Back Asleep After a Nightmare Effectiveness
Avoid bright lights and loud sounds High
Get out of bed and move to a different room Medium
Avoid staring at the clock High
Avoid checking your phone or other screens High
Practice meditation and breathing exercises High
Listen to soothing music or perform full-body muscle relaxation Medium
Focus on something boring or distracting Medium
Keep the bedroom dark and free of stimulating activities High


Waking up from a nightmare can be a distressing experience that disrupts your sleep and leaves you feeling anxious. However, there are effective strategies you can employ to calm yourself down and quickly fall back asleep. By implementing these techniques and prioritizing self-care, you can navigate the post-nightmare period and enjoy a restful sleep.

One of the key factors in managing nightmares is reducing stress. Incorporating relaxation techniques into your daily routine, such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, and muscle relaxation exercises, can help alleviate anxiety and promote better sleep. Additionally, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule and creating a calming sleep environment can contribute to a more restorative sleep experience.

When you wake up from a nightmare, it’s important to avoid bright lights and loud sounds, as they can further stimulate your senses and make it harder to fall back asleep. Resisting the urge to check your phone or other screens is also crucial, as the blue light emitted by these devices can disrupt your sleep-wake cycle. Instead, opt for soothing activities like listening to relaxing music or focusing on something boring to help distract your thoughts and ease your mind.

In conclusion, by employing strategies such as managing stress, creating a peaceful sleep environment, and engaging in relaxation techniques, you can effectively go back to sleep after a nightmare. Remember that sleep and stress are closely interconnected, so it’s vital to prioritize self-care and adopt healthy sleeping habits to promote overall well-being and enjoy restful nights.

Tony Garrett

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