Nightmares Only Become More Prevalent With Age: 3 Tips To Prevent Them

Image by fizkes / iStock

Nightmares are no fun. They’re scary, they wake you up, and according to new research published in Sleep Medicine, they become more prevalent later in life. Here’s what the research says, plus how to avoid nightmares going forward.

Studying nightmares in older adults.

This study, conducted by a team of researchers in Korea, aimed to look at nightmares specifically within elderly populations. They had 2,940 participants with an average age of 63 fill out questionnaires about nightmares, as well as sleep quality, stress, and depression.

In the sample of elderly folks over 50 years old, 2.7% reported experiencing nightmares. In the group over 70, that percentage jumped to 6.3%, which the study authors call “significantly higher.” And on top of that, those who experienced nightmares had “significantly more sleep problems, higher suicidal ideation, depression, and stress compared to the non-nightmare group,” the research notes.

Additional research also indicates insomnia becomes more prevalent with age, too, highlighting the importance of sleep hygiene for older populations in particular.

3 tips for preventing nightmares and getting better sleep.

While it might seem impossible to control the kinds of dreams you have while you’re asleep, there are preventive measures you can take to sleep more soundly, and hopefully, avoid the nightmares:

1. Try a magnesium supplement.

To help achieve deeper sleep, consider trying a magnesium supplement, like mbg’s magnesium+.* In one small trial, magnesium helped patients manage insomnia symptoms, fall asleep faster, and stay asleep longer across the board.* Additional research has also shown the mineral could be helpful in easing stress.*

According to physician Robert Rountree, M.D., “For those who fall asleep OK but awaken during the night, I recommend taking the magnesium immediately before getting into bed,” to help support a steadier sleep.

2. Check your thermostat.

Research shows that warmer temps in your bedroom can lead to fitful and nightmarish sleep. As holistic psychiatrist and sleep expert Ellen Vora, M.D., previously explained to mbg, “The optimal temperature for sleep is considered 65 degrees Fahrenheit.”

3. Avoid eating before bed.

And lastly, if you’re a late-night snacker and find that you’re experiencing nightmares, it might be time to ditch the habit. Research shows the foods we eat, particularly before bed, can influence our sleep quality—and result in some weird dreams. Nightmares aside, eating before bed can lead to weight gain, indigestion while sleeping, and a myriad of other health issues.

The bottom line.

No one wants to be woken up in the middle of the night by a bad dream. And not only that, but sleep is crucial to our overall well-being. Knowing that nightmares can become more persistent as we get older, it’s important we take steps to set ourselves up for a good night’s sleep, particularly as we age, so we can sleep through the night and give our bodies the deep rest they need.


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