Learn how to deal with nightmares naturally, what causes them, and which essential oils are best for nightmares.
Nightmares can be very scary and feel so real. Often times when you wake up from a nightmare, you feel unsettled and fearful for a long time. I hate that feeling.
The only thing worse than having a nightmare is when your kids have them. Not only do we hate to see our kids scared and upset, no one gets any sleep.
It can be hard to calm a child or toddler down after a nightmare, so it is best to keep them from happening. This post goes over how to prevent nightmares from happening and what you can do when they do happen.
What Causes Nightmares in Children?
The exact cause of nightmares is unknown but is most likely caused by being overtired or stressed. When kids get overtired, it can cause them to be irritable, stressed, easily frustrated, and have mood swings.
Another known cause for nightmares is when a child sees or experiences something scary before bedtime. Watching scary or intense shows before bed can cause the child to dream about that situation, and a nightmare may occur.
When a child or an adult has a fever, they can experience nightmares. Elevated body temperatures can affect the way your brain works and cause vivid dreams and even hallucinations.
How to Avoid Nightmares?
Because we don’t always know the exact cause of a nightmare, it can be hard to avoid them completely. However, there are a few things you can do to make nightmares less common.
Get the Right Amount of Sleep
Getting the right amount of sleep is so important for adults, children, and babies. In our fast-paced world, getting the recommended amount of sleep can be difficult, but it is so important for overall wellness.
The lack of sleep is often the culprit of your nightmares. If you or your child are experiencing nightmares, be sure to examine how much sleep is recommended for your age group and strive for it every single night.
If you have a hard time sleeping or staying asleep, check out these 10 tips for a better night sleep.
Below is the amount of sleep recommended in a 24 hour day according to the sleep foundation.
- Babies under 12 months: 12-15 hours
- Toddlers 1-2 years: 11-14 hours
- Preschool 3-5 years: 10-13 hours
- School-age 6-12 years: 9-12 hours
- Teens 13-18 years: 8-10 hours
- Adults: 7-9 hours
Avoid Scary Shows or Movies
Watching scary movies can leave you feeling anxious and stressed. When you drift off to sleep, you may see the scary scenes from the movie in your dreams causing nightmares. This may be more of an issue in children than adults as movies can real very real to children.
Avoid Stressful Situations
Avoiding stress can be easier said than done. School, work, or just life in general, can be stressful. If your child is experiencing unexplained nightmares, try making their day less stressful. It may not be ideal, but cutting out sporting events, music lessons, or playdates may make your child’s day less stressful.
Change Your Diet
The foods you eat and the drinks you drink can be the cause of your nightmares. Too much caffeine can be a culprit as it can affect the stages of sleep and, in return, cause nightmares. Food allergies or intolerances can cause inflammation causing nightmares or even hallucinations.
If you or your child are having unexplained nightmares, it might be helpful to make a food log to see if there is any correlation.
Essential Oils for Nightmares
Several essential oils can be used to deal with nightmares. Applying these oils to the skin topically or diffusing them overnight can help with nightmares.
- Juniper berry
- Roman Chamomile
How to Deal with Nightmares?
If you experience nightmares, there are some things you can do to calm yourself or your child back down. Some studies suggest that you should never wake up a person having a nightmare, and others say that you should.
In my personal experience, I do wake up my child and console them before laying them back down. This can be determined by the person and the type of nightmare they are having.
Establish a Bedtime Routine
Having an established bedtime routine that is calming and relaxing can help with nightmares. Make this routine the same and consistent with keeping the brain stress-free and with reducing anxious feelings.
Use Essential Oils
Apply and diffuse essential oils that can reduce stress before bed. Essential oils such as lavender and frankincense can help you to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Using these oils before bed or when you are woken up from a nightmare can really help.
Talk About the Dream
Whether the nightmare wakes you up during the middle of the night or you don’t remember it fully until morning, it can help to talk about it. When your child wakes up, remind them of the nightmare and see if they remember. If they do, talk to them about it and remind him or her it was just a dream and everything is OK.
If your child wakes up from a nightmare, it might feel more comforting to go back to sleep if they have a night light on. However, using night lights is not good practice and can make falling asleep and staying asleep more difficult. If your child is used to a night light, you may want to gradually reduce the light and get them used to sleeping in a dark room.
How to Calm an Anxious Child at Bedtime?
Since stress and anxious feelings can be a cause of nightmares, it is very important to calm your child before bed. If your child is experiencing stress or anxiousness, try establishing a healthy and calming bedtime routine. Children respond well to routines, and this can be the best way to help them feel safe and secure.
Bedtime routines can look different from family to family. For us, it involves storytime, songs, and prayers. However, our kids have a very established routine and know what to expect each night.
If you have a young child, be sure to give them proper naps throughout the day to avoid them being overtired at bedtime. Being overtired can make it hard for them to fall asleep at night.