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There are a few ways you can try to prevent nightmares and night terrors.

Nightmares and Sleep Terrors, what's the difference?

If you're experiencing frequent, troublesome nightmares, or you're just not feeling like you're getting restful sleep, it may be time to see a sleep doctor/expert.

Read experts suggestions/opinions below.


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For mild cases of nightmares, I recommend something called image rehearsal therapy. It works by desensitizing the nightmare so it’s less scary.

During the day, "write out your nightmare, remembering the early details. But near the end of the story, during the most frightening part, create a non-scary ending."

Now you have a story that starts out like your nightmare, but has a safe ending. Visualize this story a few times a day. When the story appears in your nightmare, the ending should change to be more like the one you’ve created.

This may extinguish the nightmare over time.
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Sleep terrors are treated differently.

I recommend mapping the timing of sleep terrors and setting an alarm before they strike. Part of this rests on your bed partner, because they’re the ones that know when your sleep terrors happen. Ask them to keep track of the time of events so you know when to set the alarm.

Wake up with the alarm and go back to sleep.

In some cases, I'll have a patient do an overnight study in a sleep lab, where your behavior will be videotaped and your brain waves, breathing, and heart rate will be monitored.
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In more serious cases, sleep terrors can include getting out of bed (sleep walking), which can lead to physically harming yourself.

If you’re having a combination of sleep walking and sleep terrors, it’s most definitely time to see your doctor.

They will give you additional advice to make the bedroom safe, like sleeping on the floor, using a sleeping bag, or setting alarms on doors and exits.
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Remember that someone having a sleep terror may not be reassured by another’s presence. So don’t confront someone having a sleep terror, as they could get violent. Once a sleep terror starts, there isn’t much you can do to stop it. Instead, clearing the environment of dangerous objects is the best you can do until it’s over.
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Even though nightmares are common, it’s time to see a doctor when they start to affect you during the day.

Are you feeling sleepy during the day because the nightmares are keeping you up, or because you’re avoiding sleep due to bad dreams?

Are you having a hard time focusing at work?

Then, yes, it’s time to see your doctor.
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