5 Ways To Set Yourself Up For Deeper Sleep & Happier Dreams
Stress in our waking lives often carries into our sleep, so there's not always an easy fix for stressful dreams and nightmares. However, there are a few things you can do before bed to set yourself up for a restful, more joyfully dreamy snooze:
1. Manage stress with healthy tools.
According to therapist and dream expert Leslie Ellis, Ph.D., one thing that can help make your dreams more pleasant is reducing the stress in your everyday life. Whether that means taking up a mindfulness practice, journaling about what's bothering you, or seeing a licensed professional, whatever you can do to help mitigate stress will likely translate to better sleep all-around.
2. Have a relaxing bedtime routine.
Of course, when talking about achieving quality sleep, we can't leave out the ever-important bedtime routine. Using your wind-down time to do relaxing activities that "reduce embodied stress," Ellis notes, can encourage more pleasant dreams. "Ideally, go to sleep in a calm body. It helps to get some exercise during the day and practice good sleep hygiene prior to bedtime," she explains.
So, that means, no screen time for at least an hour, a hot bath or shower, and possibly a pre-sleep relaxation meditation, she suggests. It's also a good idea to avoid food and alcohol close to bedtime, as research shows both can negatively affect sleep.
3. Try a magnesium supplement.
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4. Set your thermostat.
If bad dreams and frequent wake-ups are an issue for you, one reason may just be the temperature of your bedroom. As sleep researcher and co-author of Sleep for Success! Rebecca Robbins, Ph.D., previously told mbg, "We see experimentally that individuals sleeping in warmer rooms (70°F or higher) are more prone to worrisome dreams and fitful sleep." Your best bet is to keep it around 65°F, or at least under 70°F.
5. Set an intention for dreaming.
And lastly, Ellis recommends setting an intention for your dreaming. "For example," she says, "as you are drifting into sleep, you can bring to mind a really good dream or memory and imagine yourself right back there, and set an intention to continue this dream."
You can also specifically ask your dreaming mind to solve a problem, "or reflect on an aspect of your life that you would like some input on," she explains. Writing your query down, she adds, seems to increase the likelihood of dreaming about the topic. (Be sure to check out our full guide on lucid dreaming if you want to know more!)
Even if you're far from controlling your dreams, we can all do little things throughout the day and before bed to relax our minds and set ourselves up for a good night's sleep.