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How to have pleasant dreams (and avoid having bad ones)

Every night as we drift off to sleep, we enter into the mysterious land of dreams.

Psychologists explain that dreams are the processing of both our conscious and
subconscious thoughts, but the phenomenon of dreaming is still somewhat
unexplainable.

One thing is for sure, when we have a night of pleasant dreams it not only lifts
our mood for the day ahead, but it also makes sleeping more enjoyable and
relaxing.

There is a Native American tradition of hanging a dream catcher above your bed
to ward off bad dreams. But is there another way to stimulate pleasant dreams?

Research from Harvard Medical School has discovered that there is in fact, ways
you can promote having pleasant dreams and avoid having nightmares.

Here is what they found….

Smells Affect Your Sleep

Researchers found that participants who were introduced to sweet smells during
the night were more likely to have positive dreams. When participants were
surrounded by bad smells throughout the night however, it helped to create
nightmares.

According to J. Catesby Ware from the Eastern Virginia Medical School- “dreams
are sleep protective.”

This means that bad smells can trigger the brain to produce dreams that may not
be as pleasant, in an effort to alert you of something.

To take advantage of this finding, try diffusing your favourite essential oils in
your bedroom before sleeping. This may help stimulate positive dreams all night
long.

Essential oils that are known to be good for dreaming include-

  • Lavender
  • Rose
  • Sandalwood
  • Mugwort

Avoid Intense Stimuli Before Bed

While watching the latest horror flick or adrenaline pumping movie may be fun,
researchers have found that it can also lead to nightmares.

When participants were involved in frightening or high intensity content before
bed, they were more likely to have stressful dreams and an interrupted sleep.

When participants were given relaxing activities to do before bed, such as
reading a light-hearted novel or enjoying a cup of herbal tea, they were more
likely to have pleasant dreams.

The same effect was found when participants had stimulants before bed. This
included a heavy meal, spicy foods, caffeine, sugary foods and nicotine.

If you are looking to stimulate pleasant dreams, avoid intense activities before
bed and instead opt for something more relaxing.

Sounds Can Manipulate Your Dreams

Have you ever heard knocking in your dream, only to realise that it was also
happening in real life?

Sounds in the outside world can manipulate or influence your dreams.

According to Dr Barett, from Harvard Medical School, for sounds to influence
your dreams they have to be - “low enough that they don’t wake you, but high
enough that you perceive them.”

When gentle sounds are played during sleep, like the sound of waves or even
gentle music it can help to stimulate pleasant dreams.

It can also avoid the chances of a nightmare being triggered by a sharp sound
such as car alarm or sirens.

Playing white noise during the night has also been shown to help induce a
deeper sleep. Especially if you live in a noisy neighbourhood, playing gentle
sounds may be worth a try.

Keep a Dream Journal

Even if you have what you perceive to be a “bad dream” there very well could be
some meaning behind it.

While dreams may not make sense at first, by writing them down in a dream
journal you may be able to discover common symbols or messages.

If you approach all your dreams as a guide into your subconscious and conscious
mind, every dream will have a purpose that may help teach or show you
something about the direction of your life.

As the famous Carl Jung stated- “Dreams are the guiding words of the soul.”

Sweet dreams, Koalas.

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