“To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub…” – Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Act 3 Scene 1
Nightmares happen to all of us, indeed, a reported estimated 30 percent of adults have nightmares at least once a month. They usually indicate a release of stress from your recent day’s experience, the brain’s reaction to the information it has gathered during the waking hours, and how it deals with change, stress, or new concepts. This can be a veritable dumping ground for the subconscious, a mix of physiology and psychology. But when those dreams of missing the bus, failing math in Junior High when you’re 42 or having mismatched shoes turns into falling off of cliffs, losing your teeth, or bearing witness to unspeakable events, and those nightmares keep happening…it can really have a negative impact on your whole life. And that’s when it’s time to address the problem.
Putting the brain chemistry and nightly dumping aside (as well as what we’ve viewed on TV or read in a book right before bed), we know that anxiety, stress and depression are primary triggers of bad dreams, Of course, these are certainly complex conditions that have all sorts of underlying reasons themselves. Financial problems, family fights, disease, fear of losing your job, the death of a loved one… these are just a few common causes of stress, anxiety, emotional disturbances, and bad dreams.
A nightmare is a dream that typically occurs during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Nightmares can occur late at night, and can often awaken the sleeper. People with psychiatric disorders or neuroses are more susceptible to them, and there even appears to be a genetic predisposition to frequent nightmares.
It’s important to know the difference between normal dreams, and dreams which are worrisome and indicate an imbalance. Normal dreaming is dreaming which does not make your sleep restless, is not frightening, does not disturb the mind the morning after, and does not leave you exhausted when you wake.
Excessive dreaming are dreams that cause restless sleep or nightmares, indicating imbalance, and resulting in you feeling very tired the following morning. The dreams result in feelings of fear, distress, extreme anxiety or strong terror. People experiencing excessive and distressing dreams have significantly higher anxiety levels during their waking hours. When there’s more stress, there can be even more bad dreams, continuing in a vicious cycle. The loss of sleep, low quality sleep, chronic insomnia, fatigue, disturbing imagery and thoughts, spiking heart rate and blood pressure, and headaches can wreak havoc on physical and mental health.
Acupuncture provides fast relief to break the cycle and rebuild your quality of life. Acupuncture is often thought of for the treatment of stress, anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and chronic fatigue. And it’s very helpful for ceasing nightmares. Acupuncture works by approaching the mind and body holistically to address internal imbalance, encouraging the flow of natural energy, and releasing physical and mental tension.
At the initial consultation, we gather information to get a complete picture of what is causing the bad dreams and disturbed sleep. It seems ironic that nightmares would be treated with needles, but there are about 365 acupuncture points on the body, and these points can be combined in countless ways to achieve desired results. Acupuncture can free up energetic and physical blocks, leading to ideal movement and function throughout the body. Patients typically feel a sense of relaxation after the needles are inserted.
The therapy boosts your mood and immune system. It relaxes muscle tension, enhances circulation, and certainly promotes better sleep, too! These and other benefits of acupuncture stop that vicious cycle of stress and bad dreams. As your mental and physical well-being improve, bad dreams become less intense and less frequent, and nightmare-related stress, anxiety, and depression fade, letting you get the restful sleep you so need and deserve. Here’s to happy dreaming!
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