Nightmares (Bad Dreams) during Pregnancy: Reasons & Tips to Overcome

Bad Dreams during Pregnancy – Reasons and How to Avoid

Dreaming is a normal phenomenon, and most of us dream when we are fast asleep. However, sometimes these dreams may not be happy or positive ones. Instead of dreams, some of us even have nightmares. Just like dreams, this is also very common. But if you have nightmares during pregnancy, it may become a cause for concern. Let us find out what may cause nightmares during pregnancy and also learn various ways in which you may keep such experiences at bay, in the following article.

What Are Nightmares and Are They Normal during Pregnancy?

The human mind is very complex, and it keeps storing memories in it. Many studies are going on to understand and interpret the human dreams. However, no substantial proof has been found that clearly states why we have certain kinds of dream. But it has been observed that these ethereal images that you see while sleeping may be a result of your thoughts, memories, anxieties etc., and may pop up in your mind in the form of a dream or nightmare. When it is a positive or happy experience, it is termed ‘dream’, and when it is a negative or disturbing experience, it is termed ‘nightmare’.

If you are pregnant, then you must be thinking if nightmares are common during pregnancy or not. Well, there is no doubt that your body goes through many physical and emotional changes during pregnancy and sometimes these changes lead to various kinds of disturbances in your sleep. Hence, these disrupted sleeping schedules and sleep-patterns may make you more prone to having nightmares.

Reasons for Nightmares during Pregnancy

Following are some of the reasons which may lead to nightmares during pregnancy:

1. Changing Hormones

It may sound a bit strange, but your changing pregnancy hormones may make you have nightmares. This may happen because of the hormone called cortisol. The level of this hormone starts increasing as you become pregnant and it may reach its peak during labour. This particular hormone may be responsible for triggering that part of your brain that may make you see weird or scary images during sleep. Hence, you may have nightmares.

2. Anxiety

It is extremely normal for a pregnant woman to feel anxious. There are so many reasons to be stressed about during pregnancy. For example, you will be concerned about your baby’s health and well-being, the birthing process, your health, etc. But stressing or being anxious won’t help. Anxiety issues may affect your sleep and result in disrupted sleep. This may lead to negative thoughts and emotions, which may culminate into nightmares.

A pregnant woman stressed

3. Sleep Issues

If you face sleep issues during pregnancy, you are likely to have nightmares. The occurrence of sleep issues is due to changing hormones, increasing weight, pressure on your abdominal region, etc. And all these problems may increase your chances of waking up at night and thus may lead to sleep troubles. Therefore, you may have more chances of having nightmares in the second trimester of your pregnancy.

If you forget these nightmares after waking up, then it is not a problem. However, if you reminisce about them, it may lead to stress and anxiety. Any kind of stress or anxiety is not good for you or your unborn child. Therefore, you may have to look for ways and means to control your negative emotions and feelings that make you experience nightmares in the first place.

Tips to Avoid Bad Dreams while Pregnant

If you are looking for ways to prevent the occurrence of nightmares during pregnancy, here are some suggestions that may help you. Take a peek into the following tips and minimize the occurrence of bad dreams during pregnancy:

1. Try to find out the reason

Believe it not but knowing the reason that may have caused a bad dream may help you in dealing with it. You need to understand why you may be having such negative thoughts. It could be because of health issues, fear, worries, or other such issues that may bother you during pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about the same and get over your fears and worries.

2. Take charge of your health

If you suffer from any health ailment during pregnancy, it may make you tense and worried. You need to understand your condition and also learn about various ways to effectively cope with it to have a healthy and hassle-free pregnancy.  Eat good food, take enough rest, and have an active lifestyle. This will keep you upbeat during pregnancy and keep health problems at bay. If you exercise, eat well, and follow your daily schedule, you will fall asleep quickly and have a peaceful sleep. And thus the chances of a nightmare would reduce.

3. Think positive and be happy

Your state of mind has a lot to do with the kind of dreams you may have. If you remain positive and happy, it will keep negative feelings and thoughts away from your mind which will ultimately prevent the occurrence of bad dreams at night.

A happy pregnant woman with her husband

4. Sleep well

The importance of ‘rest’ during pregnancy cannot be undermined. You should have at least 7 to 8 hours of interrupted sleep at night. A well-rested body means no stress or tension, which in turn makes you happy and keeps you away from any negative thoughts and emotions.

5. Do not snack late night

You may have unusual food cravings at the wee hours during pregnancy, but don’t give into those weird cravings. If you like, you can much something healthy before going to bed. Anything that you eat just before dozing off may not get digested easily and thus may lead to heartburns, nausea, or other digestive problems. These problems may hamper your sleep and thus lead to negative emotions.

6. Be realistic

Sometimes no matter how hard you and put sense into things, your mind fails to understand the logical aspects of it. The same may hold true in case of nightmares, too. All said and done, nightmares are nothing but your interpretations, and they may not be true, so why worry? Don’t stress yourself by thinking about it. Let it go, however, if you have the same dream regularly, talk to your doctor about it.

7. Meditate

Meditation is one of the most effective ways to calm your mind. No matter how hard your day was or what negative thoughts crop in your head, all you have to do is, sneak out few minutes from your schedule to meditate a couple of times in a day. Plan one session right before you retire for the day so that your mind is calm and relaxed.

A pregnant woman meditating

8. Relax

Relaxing your mind and body during pregnancy is important as stress and anxiety is not good for the health of your baby and for your health too. The best way to relax is exercises, yoga, meditation, listening to music, reading a good book or doing what you like. You can also spend some time with your friends or family members to unwind after a hectic day. Talking to your loved ones is also one of the best therapies that helps soothe your mind.

If you incorporate the above-mentioned tips in your life, you can get a good sleep and relax at night. However, it is important to understand that dreams whether good or bad are just the manifestations of your mind, and you may have no control over it. Therefore, if you struggle with sleeping because of recurrent nightmares, seek medical assistance at earliest.

Also Read: Meditation during Pregnancy: Benefits and Techniques

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Aarohi Achwal holds a bachelor’s degree in Commerce and a master’s degree in English Literature. While working as an intern for an English daily, she realised that she likes writing above anything else. The idea of being heard without having to speak appeals to her. She likes to write research-based articles that are informative and relevant. She has written articles on pregnancy, parenting, and relationships. And she would like to continue creating content on health and lifestyle.