Whether you are trying to overcome nightmares or want to dream less, you can take steps not to dream. Relaxing or meditating before going to bed can cause you to sleep without dreams. Adjusting your lifestyle and nighttime habits to sleep more soundly can also create the foundation for less vivid or distressing dreams. With time and practice, you may be able to avoid dreams in your sleep or limit their emotional meaning.
Method 1 of 3: Encourage Dreamless Sleep
Step 1. Practice meditation so that you calm down and sleep without dreaming
Deep meditation can help the mind relax and, while falling asleep, stimulate a restful dreamless sleep. Try meditating while falling asleep to increase the likelihood of deep, but dreamless sleep.
- Meditation involves focusing the mind on a word, thought, or feeling to induce a stronger sense of attention or calm.
- Mindfulness meditation on the body in particular is helpful for lulling you to sleep at night.
Step 2. Pay no attention to dreams after you have them
Obsessing over dreams, whether it's related topics or emotional meaning, can cause them to happen again in the future. After waking up, try to distract yourself with work or other activities instead of thinking about the dream.
- The less attention you pay to them, the more likely they are to fade over time.
- You can make an exception for a nightmare, as exploring its meaning can prevent it from happening again.
Step 3. Use a timer to wake up while taking a nap
If you sleep during the day and don't want to dream, set a timer for about 30 to 45 minutes. In this way, you can wake up before you enter REM sleep, which is when you are most prone to dreaming.
This method is less useful when sleeping at night, which is when the body needs REM sleep to feel rested the next day
Step 4. Talk to a doctor about taking sleep medications if necessary
If you experience particularly vivid dreams, some medications can reduce the intensity or frequency. Make a list of your sleep symptoms and your medical history so your doctor can determine the best treatment plan.
Also tell your doctor if you take any medications, as some can cause vivid or emotionally distressing dreams
Method 2 of 3: Have a More Restful Sleep
Step 1. Avoid consuming caffeine, alcohol, or nicotine before going to sleep
Caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol can irritate the nervous system and disrupt the sleep cycle. Try not to use any of these substances at least 5-6 hours before you want to fall asleep.
If you consume any of these substances at night, try not to ingest them on an empty stomach, as this can intensify their effect on the body
Step 2. Plan physical activity in your weekly schedule
Regular physical activity can support general well-being and promote more comfortable sleep. Try to get at least 2-3 sessions of 30-60 minute exercise each week, especially on nights when you want to sleep soundly.
However, try not to plan physical activity after 1 or 2 hours before going to bed, as this can stimulate the body and make you feel more restless
Step 3. Stick to a regular sleep schedule
Try to go to bed and wake up at around the same time each day. This measure will prepare the body to fall asleep faster at night without tossing and turning.
The recommended amount of sleep per night is 7 to 8 hours. Try to sleep about this long to stay healthy and rested
Step 4. Unplug all electronic devices before going to bed
Illuminated displays can trick the brain into thinking it is daylight and disrupt the sleep cycle. Turn off all electronic devices in the room at least an hour before going to bed for a more restful sleep.
If you have an alarm clock in your room, use an analog clock instead of a backlit clock if you have trouble sleeping
Method 3 of 3: Avoid Distressing Dreams
Step 1. Make the bedroom a relaxing and comfortable place
To avoid nightmares, the bedroom should be used for one thing only, sleeping. Avoid doing stressful activities, like working or solving personal problems, in the bedroom so that you can go to sleep without feeling anxious.
- A soft, comfortable mattress and bedding can also help to relax and reduce emotional distress.
- The more emotionally preoccupied you are while you sleep, the more likely you are to have a nightmare.
Step 2. Sleep on your right side instead of your left
The position you sleep in can influence the quality of your dreams, and people who sleep on the left side are more likely to have nightmares. If you frequently experience nightmares, try sleeping on your right side so that you have better dreams.
Although people who sleep on the right side experience fewer nightmares, they generally report a lower quality of sleep overall as well
Step 3. Avoid spicy, high-carbohydrate, or sugary foods before going to sleep
All of these foods can irritate your stomach and make you more prone to weird or distressing dreams. If you're hungry at night, eat something bland like cherries, rice, or sweet potatoes.
Try not to eat heavy meals in general before going to sleep, as eating too much can irritate your stomach and make you restless or have nightmares
Step 4. Try to understand the meaning of the dream
If you have a distressing dream, trying to assign meaning to it can help you learn from it and get through the nightmare. Think about what symbolism it may have in your life to better understand it and avoid recurring dreams.
- For example, if you dream that you fail a math test, you may feel overwhelmed by class. Ask the teacher what you can do to better handle the workload.
- If you don't know what the dream means, try looking up images in an online dream dictionary.
Step 5. Review recurring nightmares to resolve them
If you are struggling with a recurring nightmare, try to imagine it and review the scenes in your mind. Before you reach the climax of the nightmare, adapt the events in a way that changes and solves the scary situation.
For example, if you have a recurring dream in which you go to work wearing only underwear, imagine yourself realizing that you are in underwear in the car and putting on your work clothes before arriving at the office
Step 6. Talk to a counselor if nightmares affect your sleep
If you have insomnia or anxiety as a result of nightmares, you may need professional help to overcome them. Make an appointment with a counselor or psychotherapist to reduce nightmares over time.
Some sleep disorders and medications can also cause frequent nightmares, so consult a doctor
- Among people who do not experience dreams in their sleep, many have dreams but cannot remember them in the morning. These techniques can lower the risk of dream recall or experiencing unpleasant dreams, but may not eliminate them completely.
- Instead of getting rid of dreams, another way to overcome irritating ones is to control them through lucid dreaming. Try lucid dreaming if you want more self-awareness while you sleep.