To the West, it means dreams have gone awry. To the East, the feeling is that dreams are taking us out of our bodies and to another plane of existence. What are nightmares and how to stop nightmares?, the causes and solutions stem from the same meanings. Some say they come from way back when, back in the days when our biggest fears were being hunted and chased or even killed by those around us, man and beast. Nowadays, children have these fears more than adults, because they feel the most vulnerable. This means that children nightmares are the result of psychological instincts more than anything.
As we grow into adults, the causes of nightmares grow out of psychological instincts, and toward other things, like stress and relationships, violent trauma, drugs, alcohol, and even high fevers. Alcohol, for instance, messes up the rapid eye movement phase of sleep. When this happens, and the alcohol fades away, REM returns, your mind will introduce amazing little dreams that can lead to nightmares.
There is hope for this, and it comes in the form of lucid dreaming. What exactly is lucid dreaming? It is dreaming while knowing you are dreaming. When your brain discovers that it is in the dream state, all of your senses come awake, while your body remains asleep. If you can accomplish this without waking up physically, you can control the flow and outcome of your dreams.
So, if you are in the middle of a nightmare, you have two choices, wake up (since you know you are dreaming this is easy to do), or take control of your dream and turn the scary images around into something you can overcome. When you go the second route, you get beyond the fear that has taken over your dreams, and you can get over the causes of your nightmares. You can analyze why you are experiencing your nightmares and squash them for good.
To become lucid, you need to train yourself to recognize what are called “Dream Signs.” In your nightmares, are you being chased, or feeling pain, or hiding from someone or something in a dark place, or crying all the time? Any of these can be the triggers you need to become consciously aware that you are having nightmares that can be changed into more positive lucid dreaming. Train yourself to ask, “Am I dreaming?” Try doing something you know you can’t do in reality, like pass through a wall or walk on water. Fly.
If you hit a wall hard, drop into the water and get wet, or find yourself unable to get off the ground, you are not dreaming. Anything else triggers the fact that you are dreaming lucidly. Children can get into lucid dreaming states easily, because they don’t know any different. So, if you find your children experiencing this dream state, encourage them to go with it. Talk to them about how they can overcome their fears by lucid dreaming.
Practice until you get these dream signs down pat. Promise yourself to perform the checks described above, such as trying to fly or walk through solid objects. Get into the habit nightly of working on this. Soon, you will be able to trigger the lucid dreaming state and can then tackle those issues that cause your nightmares. Then you will be able to stop them cold and go back to enjoy your dreams.