01/27/2012 04:25 pm ET

5 Tips For Battling Nightmares

Nightmares are a relatively common sleep disorder that affects both children and adults. We spoke to Amy Korn-Reavis, R.R.T., R.S.T., a registered respiratory therapist and manager of Emery Sleep Solutions in Apopka, Fla., for one approach to the medical problems you or your loved one may suffer from when trying to sleep.

If you or your child suffer from nightmares, use this as a reference point before getting personalized medical advice from your doctor or other accredited sleep expert. --Wendy Gould

Nightmares are intense dreams that usually involve issues such as aggression, anxiety or intense feelings, according to Korn-Reavis. They typically occur during REM, the period of sleep where dreams occur. Nightmares have a movie-like quality and are remembered vividly.


Nightmares, especially in adults, are often a direct result of stress, she says. "Find ways to minimize stress in your everyday life. If your nightmares subside, stress was most likely the causing factor," Korn-Reavis says.

Get Enough Sleep

Both nightmares and night terrors may be the direct result of sleep deprivation, says Korn-Reavis. Make sure you're getting enough hours of sleep every night and that the quality of your sleep is high.

Talk About It

If your child experiences frequent nightmares, talk to him or her about them and explain that they are not real, Korn-Reavis says. Nightmares are more common in children than adults, but they do grow out of them.

Guide Your Dreams

Lucid dreaming may sound impossible or even unreal, but it is possible to guide your dreams while asleep, according to Korn-Reavis. This takes practice, but once you acknowledge within your dream that you're asleep, you can tell yourself the dream is not real and then guide yourself into a new dream.

Speak With A Sleep Specialist

If you experience continued nightmares over a long period of time, speak with a sleep specialist, advises Korn-Reavis. A specialist can provide more insight into your unique case and even prescribe medications that improve your sleep quality.

Amy Korn-Reavis, R.R.T., R.S.T., is both a registered respiratory therapist and sleep technologist who has been in the business for more than 25 years. As a board member of the American Association of Sleep Technologists and manager of Emery Sleep Solutions in Apopka, Fla., Korn-Reavis has helped many improve their sleep habits over the years.

Have you ever suffered from a sleep disorder? What worked for you?