Meditation can be a wonderful aid for reducing the frequency and intensity of nightmares. Indeed, the 50 percent of adults who have nightmares according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine could find relief in as little as twenty minutes.
So whether you’ve been having nightmares about your teeth falling out or about someone dying, mindfulness can help.
Let me show you one of the meditations I teach in my online lessons. My students tell me that when I lead them through this meditation it really improves the quality of their sleep that night.
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Guided Meditation for Nightmares
Listen to the meditation. Just press play. Or continue reading below.
- Lie down with good posture so your back is straight but relaxed.
- Close your eyes and focus on breathing. Watch your breath moving around your body for 20 minutes.
- Now bring to mind one time in your life when you felt safe, supported, and peaceful. It could be a moment from any time in your life.
- Visualize that moment in your life. What did you feel like? Where were you? Who was with you? Vividly bring this memory to life in your mind.
- Find one aspect of the memory that makes you feel exceptionally peaceful. Focus your mind on that for ten minutes.
- Repeat this meditation when you go to bed tonight.
As well as the meditation script above, I recommend trying the following techniques:
Anapanasati (Mindfulness of Breath): Helps to promote inner calm before bed.
Vipassana: Enhances emotional processing, which is pivotal for getting a good night’s sleep.
Loving Kindness: Promotes feelings of compassion and interconnectedness, which can counteract the feelings of loneliness that many people suffer from.
Relaxing music: Try listening to relaxing music before going to bed. This will help promote inner peace and relaxation. Plus, it will reduce stress, which is often the cause of bad dreams
Although there has been no significant scientific research into the effects of meditation on nightmares, you can see a direct link when you look at cause and effect.
The Mayo Clinic tells THE DAILY MEDITATION that one of the leading causes of nightmares is stress and anxiety.
These two problems can cause hypervigilance, which makes it hard to sleep at night.
We know from research that meditation reduces stress and anxiety. Therefore, it should also reduce nightmares.
Yoga helps too.
Writing for Psychology Today, Seth J. Gillihan PhD [licensed psychologist, University of Pennsylvania] says, “Excessive muscular tension can feed back to our minds and perpetuate the feeling of unease. When we experience the relaxation benefits of yoga, we can lower our physical tension, which helps release the grip that anxiety can have on us.” Try mixing meditation with yoga by practicing a mindful form of yoga such as Yin.
Does meditation cause bad dreams?
Some people believe meditation causes bad dreams. However, this is not entirely accurate.
Meditation makes dreams more vivid and often even lucid, according to research from Benjamin Baird at the Wisconsin Institute for Sleep and Consciousness.
That’s true for both pleasant and unpleasant dreams. And this is why you might want to be cautious if you use meditation for sleep because your dreams might be too vivid. And if that is the case, The Sleep Council  says you should reduce alcohol consumption, try to balance your hormones and reduce stress.
Stress is particularly brutal.
In an article for VeryWell Mind medically reviewed by Shilpa Amin, [M.D., CAQ, FAAFP], Eleesha Lockett says, “Stress and trauma from childhood can cause recurring nightmares later in life”.
But meditation will help to alleviate the problem.
Meditation helps us to relax, enhances emotional processing, and reduces stress and anxiety. And thereby, it helps reduce nightmares.
Need help having pleasant dreams? Book an online meditation lesson with me today.
Paul Harrison BSc is a qualified meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in teaching meditation and mindfulness both to individuals and to corporations and is the author of four books on meditation. He has been featured in Psychology Today, Breathe Magazine, Healthline, Psych Central and Lion’s Roar.
Paul studied meditation in beautiful Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University.
Paul’s biggest inspirations include Thich Nhat Hanh, Jon Kabat Zinn, and Jack Kornfield.
“My goal is to provide the most authentic meditation sessions so you can harness the power of your own mind for personal transformation” – Paul Harrison