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Tips for Managing Nightmares

You may feel your dreams and nightmares are out of your control. If so, try this technique and see if you can create a happier ending for your scary or unpleasant dreams.

1) Start practicing relaxation techniques every night before bedtime (I suggest picking up a sleep CD with a focus on 'body scans' or 'progressive muscle relaxation.')
2) Choose a nightmare that you often experience and would like to work on.
3) Create a new ending for the dream. Your change should occur before anything bad or traumatic happens to you or anyone else.
**The more unusual and out-of-the-ordinary the change is, the more effective this tool may be. For example, you could imagine yourself as having superhuman powers who can escape danger.
4) Write down the new dream with the new ending.
5) At bedtime, practice your relaxation techniques and then rehearse your dream by visualizing the new dream with the new ending. If possible, try this step during the day too so you get extra rehearsal of the new dream.

Try it and let me know how it went.

Source: This nightmare protocol was adapted from the Behavioral Research and Therapy Clinics at the University of Washington.