How To Finally Put A Stop To Those Quarantine Nightmares
If you've been experiencing vivid dreams or simply recalling your dreams more than normal lately, you're not alone. Since people have been quarantined at home, the phenomenon of "pandemic dreams," is starting to spread.
One study speculates dreams may be a way for people to process their daily experiences. "It is thought that meaningful experiences—particularly those that are threatening—are at the forefront of dream material," the study writes.
"The amount of change, stress, and even anxiety that people are experiencing right now is certainly enough to carry over into sleep," holistic psychologist Nicole Beurkens, Ph.D., CNS, says. Weird dreams are one thing, but if you're having quarantine nightmares, there may be a few things we can do to stop them.
How can you prevent nightmares?
Though we can't restore normalcy in everyday life, we can establish a set nightly ritual. "The routine will establish a buffer zone between work and sleep," sleep psychologist and Fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine Lynelle Schneeberg, PsyD, says.
If you're having trouble falling asleep, "One great way to ease yourself into sleep is via calming adaptogens and magnesium supplements," she says. "I particularly love magnesium+ by mindbodygreen that features magnesium glycinate, which may promote relaxation.*"
The deep and restorative sleep you've always dreamt about*
"For people who are experiencing distressing dreams nightly, it is typically a sign that stress and anxiety levels are too high," Beurkens says. "They would benefit from strategies to support anxiety reduction so they can get good-quality uninterrupted sleep." To help calm your mind, mbg's magnesium+ also contains jujube, which is a fruit used in traditional Chinese medicine for stress management.*
Along with a magnesium supplement, physician and expert on stress and mind-body medicine Eva Selhub, M.D., recommends limiting your news consumption, practicing mindfulness, and meditating for at least 10 or 20 minutes every day. This can "help you shift away from fearful thoughts and elicit the relaxation response," she explains.
How can you get past persistent nightmares?
As you adjust to your new relaxing bedtime ritual, it may help to have some nightmare coping-strategies at your disposal, too.
If your nightmare wakes you up in the middle of the night, Schneeberg says it's important to change the scenery in order to leave the nightmare behind. Keeping things on your bedside table, like a book, a podcast, or a crossword puzzle, may help—just avoid doing work or grabbing for your phone.
"Use these relaxing activities until you have distracted and quieted your mind enough to feel relaxed and drowsy again," she says. "If you think this might take more than 30 minutes, it's best to move out of your bed and sit in a nearby chair or in another comfortable place in your home."
It's completely normal to be experiencing bad dreams right now. While there's no guaranteed way to nix your quarantine nightmares, these expert-backed tips are solid strategies to help you sleep more peacefully. While it may take some time to establish a healthier bedtime routine, remember that prioritizing sleep is crucial for your overall well-being.