Are you having stressful dreams that leave you anxious and agitated in the morning? In this article, we explain more about the likely causes of these dreams and we talk to aromatherapist Simone about how we can work with essential oils to help prevent these dreams, but also what to do if we do have them.
What are stress and anxiety dreams?
Anxiety dreams, stress dreams or nightmares, however you may describe them, are often dreams about stressful, nerve-racking situations that wake you bolt upright or leave you feeling panicked and anxious when you wake up.
Why do we have stress and anxiety dreams?
When we experience these types of dreams, it is often because we are facing stress and anxiety in our waking day, and this is creeping into our sleep time too. This could be down to many reasons; work stress, life-changing situations, a big move, or a trauma such as losing a loved one.
Sometimes it can also be because we have been unwell or are extremely tired. If there could be a medical reason why your sleep is being distributed, it is best to talk to your GP.
If during our day we have been uneasy and stressed, when it comes to going to sleep, our minds and nervous systems can still be heightened. So, when our body is trying to recharge during sleep, it can get confused, and these same effects of stress and anxiety become part of our dream state too.
What can we do to de-stress before bed to reduce stress dreams?
The ideal solution would be to get to the root of the situation causing you stress and begin there. While that can take time, aromatherapist Simone explains how we could de-stress before bed to reduce the potential of having these types of dreams.
“My first recommendation would be a warm bath. Quiet time can be a very beneficial way to ease the mind and body. If you also include essential oils that can support relaxation, then a bath can also start to relax the mind.
Essential oils such as Lavender and Geranium have relaxing therapeutic properties, which can help you unwind. Using bath salts such as Epsom salts, which contain magnesium, can help to relax muscles. This can start to bring our body into physical relaxation as well. Lighting some candles, shutting the door, and playing some soft music will also make the experience more relaxing”
For an Aroma bath, try Tisserand Total De-Stress Bath Oil or Tisserand Sleep Better Bath Salts.
For those of you that do not have a bath, Simone suggests having a more set routine before bed.
“Creating a bedtime sleep ritual can distract the mind from what has been going on in our day. Focusing on a routine, whilst including therapeutic, beneficial practices can support better sleep hygiene.
If you have a night-time shower, follow this with a delicate body oil infused with essential oils that support sleep and de-stressing, softly and slowly massaging this into your skin. The act of a slow massage can help us to unwind.
You could also try a short meditation before switching the light off. This can start to calm the mind. Bringing in essential oils for use on pulse points can be beneficial too.
Also, it’s best to make sure that you shut out all possible light. When it’s dark, your body releases a hormone called melatonin that relaxes your body, so a sleep mask or blackout curtains are helpful for a good night’s sleep too.
And if that’s not enough, you could also try a pillow spray. Spraying your pillow and bed sheets with relaxing essential oils can help support you with a goods night’s sleep, right up to the point you literally pull back your sheets and your head hits the pillow”
For a bedtime sleep ritual, try the Sleep Better Discovery Kit.
So, what happens if we still wake up from stressful dreams?
We should avoid reaching for our phones. Blue light makes our brain think it’s daytime, so it then wakes up, and it can be harder to get back to sleep.
Simone goes on to recommend an effective way to help you get back to sleep – “If you regularly suffer from stress dreams, you may want to keep some essential oils next to your bed. Having an oil or blend next to your bed that you can simply inhale could quickly help you become less stressed, and potentially help you fall back into a natural sleep”
For bedside essential oils and blends, try Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) or Chamomile Roman (Anthemis nobilis).
Another inhalation option is to use a diffuser, such as the Sleep Better Aroma Spa Diffuser.
Written by aromatherapist Simone Stevens MFHT @sensesbysim.