What Are Stress Dreams And How Can You Prevent Them?

Stress dreams are negative and unpleasant dreams that can cause distress. Generally speaking, anxiety-provoking events that occur during the day can cause a bad dream and you may even experience the same stress dream on repeat, according to Bustle. Recurring stress dreams typically maintain the same narrative structure, revolving around an event that would be stressful in our daily lives. While this kind of dream can cause anxiety, it may also serve as a powerful coping mechanism for things happening in the real world. 

But that's not the only time we get anxious when we lay our heads on our pillows. Another type of stress dream occurs when the stress of our everyday lives causes sleep disturbances, thus allowing us greater recall of the dream. Dr. Neil Stanley, a sleep research expert, tells Bustle, "We can only remember our dreams if we wake during them." If we happen to be having a particularly anxious dream, we may experience that anxiety upon waking and simply recalling the dream.

Stress management can help with prevention

Fortunately, you can prevent these dreams from occurring by lowering your stress levels and making some changes to your nightly routine. According to Cleveland Clinic, managing your stress is the key to controlling your stress dreams. For instance, you can help reduce the frequency of stress dreams by taking the time to relax and wind down before bed. This will help signal to your body that the day is over and it's time to go to bed. It's important to engage in calming and relaxing activities during this time, like reading or listening to music.

You can also practice some simple relaxation techniques while you're getting ready to go to bed. Some helpful strategies include breathing exercises, muscle relaxation movements, and guided imagery meditation. It can also be helpful to schedule some to think and worry a little earlier in the evening if you're having difficulty controlling your stress and anxiety. Allotting yourself 15 minutes every evening to voice and write down your worries and concerns can help you feel more relaxed by the time you're ready to go to bed.