December 30, 2017 11:46 PM   Subscribe

Help me. I'm trying to sleep and Everytime I fall back asleep I reenter this very specific dream that is stressing me out. I need to sleep but I can't do this, my heart is pounding.

In my dream (maybe not relevant but just for context) two men re trying to kill me because they either think I turned them in to the police for an unspecified crime or they are setting me up because they are trying to frame me. Something like that. And then my mom (who btw in real life passed away 20 years ago) is trying to save me but isn't actually very good at it.

I don't know why I am having this dream but every time I fall asleep I fall back into it and wake up terrified with my heart pounding. I need to sleep, I am doing a NYE show with my band tomorrow. I need immediate strategies for getting to sleep without having this dream if possible. If not strategies to relax and rest and wind down would help too. Apologies for typos I'm on my phone and it's dark and I don't have my contacts on and I'm freaking out thanks
posted by thereemix to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Have you tried a guided meditation? It sounds like maybe you are nervous/stressed and that is interfering with your sleep. I have used the recordings at this site with success. I recommend the sleep one, or maybe try the panic attack or stress one.

Good luck with your show and hope you get some sleep soon!
posted by stillmoving at 11:53 PM on December 30, 2017 [3 favorites]

I like to put on “sleep hypnosis” or guided meditation videos on YouTube. I just play them on my phone, since it’s charging by my bed anyway. Try this one, I like it. Just listen and breathe.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 11:54 PM on December 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm so sorry you are feeling uneasy. I have repetitive nightmares frequently.

I usually try to "shake it off" by getting out of bed, having a drink of water or cup of tea. I keep the lights low.
I fluff the pillow and straighten the blankets.
I calm my breathing; because, I know as you do, that really -- everything is okay, right?
You're safe, this is just an unpleasant dream.

It is okay to sleep with a soft light in the background.

Perhaps some soft music, or the sound of a fan for background noise will help lull you back to
sleep and occupy your subconscious mind.

As I am drifting off, or just resting, I take myself to a "safe" place, deliberately walking myself there in my thoughts.
If you have a pet, or have a loving pet to remember, think of yourself with that pet by your side,
caring for you.

I will likely be up most of the night, if you would like to "talk" feel free to memail me.

But I think if you breathe softly, and settle yourself, you will be able to sleep without dreaming.
posted by alwayson_slightlyoff at 12:03 AM on December 31, 2017 [2 favorites]

For some reason, waking and then immediately going back to sleep makes it a lot easier for a bad dream to recur. Put some mental daylight between yourself and the dream. Get up, do something else, just for a few minutes. Put on a light, make yourself a cup of tea or something. Getting up like this does risk making it a bit harder for you to fall back asleep, but if you wake up five more times you won't be rested, either. If you have an antihistamine or something, now's the time to take it.
posted by praemunire at 12:14 AM on December 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

Taking a moment before you go to bed to sit down, dispassionately go through everything happened that day and let it go, can help to keep the day's anxieties from ending up in your dreams.

Things that have worked for me in this kind of situation:
  • asking myself what I was trying to tell myself by having this recurring nightmare;
  • when I wake up and realise I had the nightmare: 'going back in' by trying to doze off again, pick up the dream where I left off and try to change the ending somehow.

posted by rjs at 12:22 AM on December 31, 2017

Try moving your pillows to the foot of the bed and resting with your feet against the headboard, which will make everything just enough "off" normal to help you shake off this pattern you're stuck in. I do this when I'm having one of my slow-build anxiety attacks and it's often the only way I can catch some sleep. Also take a low dose of your pain reliever of choice (like half a dose of ibuprofen) to help your body feel more comfortable and stave off reflecting any pain you might be feeling in your dreams.

If all else fails, it's better to have laid in a quiet shaded room for a couple hours without sleep but being physically relaxed and still than to have stayed up doing things for those hours (even just watching tv), so even if you really can't sleep try to find some stillness for a good chunk of tonight so you can be more present tomorrow.

One thing that can help me is that I make a very detailed list of what I have to do the next day, little stuff like what I'm going to make for breakfast, what I'll wear, anybody I need to contact, whatever, and write it down. Then I try hard to stop thinking about that stuff when I get into bed. It helps me to have that list because I'll so often lie in bed thinking of things to remember but also being torn about needing to stay in bed to get some sleep - if I've deliberately done the list ahead of time I can remind myself of that when I catch myself spiraling, that I won't forget things because I've got them written down. It sounds like tomorrow's going to be a pretty crazy day for you, maybe you can do something similar for your band's show setup and whatever comes before that for you, so you can think about how you'll have this nice list to check against tomorrow so even if you don't sleep much you'll have some failsafes.
posted by Mizu at 12:24 AM on December 31, 2017 [2 favorites]

I find if I fall asleep on my back, I tend to have nightmares. It helps me to go back to sleep in a completely different position--if I was sleeping on my back, roll to one side or the other; if I was already sleeping on one side, switch to the other side.

I've also used Mizu's technique of moving my pillow to the end of the bed and feet against the headboard when utterly desperate to go back to sleep. It often works.

Good luck! I'm sorry you are having such a disturbing, repetitive nightmare.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:26 AM on December 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

Seconding what Mizu said: Write it down. If you want to go further, look into Jungian symbolism (either yourself of go to a therapist with such knowledge.)
posted by falsedmitri at 8:16 AM on December 31, 2017

Whenever I have dreams that wake me like that, it means that there's some part of my life where I perceive danger. When I am able to at least identify the threat, whatever it may be, I can talk to myself before bed to address the fear. Or listen to calming podcasts.
posted by theora55 at 9:12 AM on December 31, 2017

I'm sorry this is happening to you, too.

I used to have a very traumatic recurring dream that was full of grief. I would be sobbing in grief in my dream, always for the same reason, and wake up and experience great relief that it was just a dream. Every night.

My therapist told me to talk to myself as I was going to sleep. Specifically to tell myself I was going to have this dream and that it was just a dream and that everything was okay and I could stop it and wake up or stay asleep and follow along, but it wasn't real.

It totally worked for me, maybe it will work for you.
posted by 10ch at 2:48 PM on December 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

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