If you’ve been suffering from nightmares or vivid dreams, one solution is to use yoga and meditation for nightmare-relief.
Millions of people around the world have been suffering from nightmare since the start of self-isolation, and dreams have been becoming ever more vivid. Maybe it’s a scary dream about your teeth falling out, a dream about someone dying, or a nightmare about being bitten by a snake. And then you wake up in a panic attack. And these nighttime ruminations can be even worse if you have a mental health conditions. PTSD nightmares, for instance, are especially disturbing and many people have lucid PTSD dreams. That’s why thousands of people are desperately seeking a cure for PTSD nightmares.
So what causes bad dreams?
Theories about dreams have evolved over the years. It used to be believed that dreams were interpreted as divine inspiration. But now thanks to scientific research on dreams and the brain, we know that dreams help the mind make sense of the world, and also pass subconscious messages.
We still don’t totally know how dreams work in the brain, but we do know that our what we do while awake affects our dreams. And we know that if we are more mindful while we are awake, our dreams will are likely to be more peaceful. Going to sleep in a relaxed state of mind can certainly help.
We can use a combination of yoga and meditation for sleep and to reduce nightmares.
Many people state that their nightmares are so vivid and realistic that they often wake up exhausted because their sleep has not provided the rest they need.
Speaking to The Independent, Dr Natasha Bijlani, [consultant psychiatrist, Priory Hospital Roehampton] said, “Many people are likely to have noticed changes to their sleep patterns recently, not just as a direct result of the stress generated by the current situation but also by the adjustments to their lives that have ensued.”
The Sleep Council  states that the leading causes of vivid dreams include sleep deprivation, alcohol consumption (which has increased recently), hormonal fluctuations and stress, the latter of which is currently at a peak. And in my own personal experience, hypervigilance stops me sleeping (hypervigilance is increased alertness).
You can use meditation for nightmares, and yoga too. Although it should be noted that some people actually experience more vivid dreams after meditating.
A thread on Reddit reveals that many people experience vivid dreams after meditating. However, the general consensus from the expert is that meditation doesn’t actually make dreams more vivid but instead increases our ability to remember dreams so that they seem as though they were more vivid when we wake.
The current situation is naturally causing more vivid dreams, or Quarandreams, and nightmares.
Nightmares are caused primarily by stress, depression, and anxiety. In an article for VeeryWellMind, medically reviewed by Shilpa Amin, [M.D., CAQ, FAAFP], Eleesha Lockett says, “tress and trauma from childhood can cause recurring nightmares later in life”.
Therefore, it’s only natural that we are experiencing more nightmares at the moment.
When we dream the mind processes information and emotions from the past day, says Timothy J Legg [Ph.D., CRNP]. Heightened emotions cause more vivid dreams, so if you’ve been experiencing heightened emotions during the current stressful time it is only natural for dreams to be more vivid.
The other day I personally dreamt that I had a heart attack, and it was the most vivid dream I have ever experienced (which is saying a lot because my dreams are always insanely vivid). I experienced every symptom of my imaginary heart attack as though it were really, and woke up totally shook. Perhaps your experiences have been similar.
Thankfully, we can use a combination of yoga and meditation for nightmare-relief and to stop “quarandreams”.
How To Use Yoga & Meditation For Nightmares And “Quarandreams”
We can use yoga and meditation for nightmare-relief and to reduce the impact of “Quarandreams” so we are less affected by disturbing nightmares.
Although there has been no significant scientific research into the effects of meditation on nightmares, you can see a direct link between meditation and nightmares 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 a struggle to sleep at night.
Stress and anxiety are currently at a peak for many people since self-isolation, and this is leading to an increase in nightmares and vivid dreaming. Reducing stress and anxiety will help remedy the problem.
Significant scientific research has shown that yoga and meditation can help to reduce both stress and anxiety, and therefore should, logically, be able to reduce nightmares.
Essentially, the theory is that any meditation technique that helps with stress, anxiety or emotional control will help with nightmares and vivid dreams.
Yoga also helps with stress and anxiety. It does this by promoting physical wellbeing, which feeds back to the mind to promote relaxation. Writing for Ph.D.Psychology Today, Seth J. Gillihan [licensed psychologist and clinical assistant professor of psychology in the Psychiatry Department at the University of Pennsylvania] says, “Excessive muscular tension can then 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.”
Yoga Poses & Types of Meditation For Bad Dreams
Do You Yoga states that the best yoga poses for relaxation are Reclined Bound Angle Pose, Legs Up the Wall, Child’s Pose, Forward Bend, and Corpse Pose.
Focusing on pranayama (yogic breathing) also helps to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system for relaxation and stress-relief, and can help you get to sleep when you have hyperventilate.
We can also use meditation for nightmare-relief, although you should leave at least one hour between meditation and sleep because meditating too close to sleep can affect your sleep cycle [READ: How to lie down to meditate].
The best meditations for nightmare-relief are ones that help promote relaxation, counterattack stress and anxiety, and enhance emotional processing. I do not recommend using vary advanced methods or any meditative technique that brings up strong emotions. These meditations can cause bad dreams. And we want to enjoy a peaceful night’s rest.
The best meditations for nightmare-relief are:
Anapansati: Mindfulness of breath helps to promote inner calm to help you relax before bed. I personally find that practicing Anapansati about an hour before bed helps me get to sleep and stops bad dreams. I like to use this method when I wake up from a nightmare too.
If you are afraid of sleeping alone this will help you to relax before you get in bed. Given that anxiety before bed is one thing that triggers nightmares, it is good to make sure you’re relaxed before you go to bed. So make Anapanasati part of your self care bedtime routine.
Vipassana: Vipassana enhances emotional processing, which is pivotal for getting a good night’s sleep. In my experience as a meditation teacher, Vipassana helps with emotional processing so you’re less likely to be stressed or emotional when you hit the sack, meaning less bad dreams.
Loving-kindness: Loving-kindness promotes feelings of compassion and interconnectedness, which can counteract the feelings of loneliness that many people are suffering from at the moment. I find that when I do this before bed I usually have pleasant dreams and get a good night’s sleep.
Relaxing music: Try listening to relaxing music before going to bed. This will help promote inner peace and relaxation, as well as reducing the impact that stress and anxiety have on your sleep.
It is only natural that we experience vivid dreams and nightmares during this time. Quarandreams are so common at the moment that they are trending on social media. But we can use yoga and meditation for nightmare-relief and make dreams less vivid.
Have you experienced quarandreams? Leave a comment and remember to subscribe.