Sweet, Sleepy Dreams

After seeing the movie Inception, it occurred to me that A) I do not have the brain for such cryptic films and B) random, almost nondescript daily events can have an impact on your dreams.

I know this to be true, Happies, because I often have random, sometimes nightmarish dreams that revolve around things I’ve seen or thought that day. Weird, yes? Yes! But then I came across this strange concept called image-rehearsal, which involves visualising your dreams and thoughts before going to sleep in order to alter the outcome of your dreams.

It’s a bit of a strange concept, but with such a strong believe in putting out positive vibes in order to get positive vibes back, it does make sense to me. Surely, if you think happy thoughts all day, your dreams can’t be racked with negative ones. Right? Well, we’ll have to wait and see.

There are three steps to image-rehearsal therapy that are easily practiced from your desk, on the couch or even in the shower.

The first, and perhaps the most important of all is about positive visualisation. Throughout the day, make a point of focusing on the things that make you happy. Like food, holidays or even clothes. The more you fill your mind with these happy influences, the more likely they will creep their way into your dreams at night. Beats the boogieman, I have to say.

The next phase of image-rehearsal therapy is all about turning negatives into positives. If you have a nightmare, or perhaps you have a reoccurring nightmare from a traumatic experience you’ve had, it’s important to reverse that negative into a positive as soon as you wake. How? By visualising a different outcome or changing the script from something scary, to something playful and fun. For example, if you dream of falling down the stairs and someone is chasing you, visualise being in your dream-home, with your dream-man chasing you and sliding down the handrail, instead. See, much more palatable.

The final step in the process involved repeating this positive scenario over and over again. It’s almost like retraining your brain to believe that this is the new version of the dream and that the old one no longer exists. It’s just about breaking habits, thought patterns and beliefs and in order to do so, you need to practice.

In 2001, the journal of the American Medical Association published a study of 168 women, who were split into two groups in order to test this theory. The group who practiced this method of eradicating nightmares came out with a far better result after six months, with fewer nightmares, less severe nightmares if they do have them, and a reduction in both insomnia and post-traumatic stress syndrome.

So, what now? I guess we need to start thinking happy thoughts and your dreams will follow. Either that or the boogieman. I know what I’ll be doing.

Tell me Happies…

Do you suffer nightmares or reoccurring dreams?

What do you do to combat them?

Have you heard of this treatment before?

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One comment

  1. Zoe · December 21, 2010

    That treatment sounds similar to cognitive behavioural therapy, which is one of the most widely used and successful treatments in psychology. Hope it works for you!

    I used to have pretty often nightmares, but at some point many years ago I realised that I could ‘redo’ the events in my dreams (while I was still dreaming) to make them less scary. I rarely get them now. Though I did have one the other month about zombies made out of devon… that was really strange.

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