The better you understand your dreams, where they come from and what they mean, the more power you'll have to control them.
If you are troubled by frequent bad dreams, it's important to recognize that you are the source of your dreams and that you can take control of them. To minimize bad dreams try these techniques.
Keep a detailed journal of your dreams. As soon as you wake up, close your eyes and try to recall your dreams as accurately as possible. Fix the images in your mind, then give each dream a title and write it down or dictate it into a tape recorder. Review dreams after you have collected a few weeks' worth of notes. Pick out recurring elements, identify distressing themes. The next time you awaken during the night from a bad dream, create its opposite in your mind, mmediately visualizing an image where you feel safe instead of vulnerable or smart instead of stupid. Then go back to sleep.
When you get ready for bed, tell yourself that you will have dreams that involve scenarios in which you're safe, competent, successful and happy. It's also helpful to prepare for sleep with a period of relaxation.
Triggering Good Dreams
The only way to control dreams is through something called lucid dreaming. In a lucid dream, the dreamer is aware that he/she is dreaming. And once you are aware of this fact, it might be possible to take control of a dream, for example, changing something frightening to something pleasant. Lucid dreaming is not an easy technique to master, but with some effort and over a period of time (weeks or even months), it is possible. Try this: think about the common situations you encounter in your dreams. Every night before going to sleep, remind yourself that if you find yourself flying, for example, you must be dreaming.
Minimize Your Child's Bad Dreams
Minimize the possibility that your child's will have a bad dream by discussing pleasant events at bedtime. It’s also a good idea to monitor TV shows and books that might scare him/her.
If your child has a nightmare, it’s okay to try to wake him (gently) and reassure him. If he tells you in the morning about his bad dream, accept the fact that his experience must have been a scary one, but emphasize that it was not real.
Night terrors, on the other hand, are not nightmares. Night terrors involve partial arousal from a deep sleep where a child may scream, sit up or even walk around without awakening. Professionals believe that for the most part, you should let night terrors run their course as your child will not remember them the next day. If they occur frequently or endanger your child, consult your pediatrician.