According to ‘Twenty-four Hour Mind’ by Rosalind Cartwright, a pioneer in sleep research, even the worst nightmares can be helped. Very few people have the ability to control their own dreams but Cartwright says dreamers can learn to ”guide” them.
Cartwright explains that during our ”downtime” of sleep our brain neurons randomly refire images and emotions from throughout the day but jumbles them up and puts them into dreams. In reaction the brain naturally tries to protect us from this effect by releasing chemicals which stop the worst of our nightmares.
At dream clinics those who suffer from nightmares are taught what is known as ”lucid dreaming”, this is essentially learning how to become aware whilst in the midst of a dream so that we can control the narrative.
Shelby Harris leads a behavioural sleep program clinic and helps individuals to overcome nightmares using the above technique among others. She helps sufferers to write ”scripts” by focusing on certain images which appear in reoccurring dreams and helps them to take control of what follows in a manner of self-hypnosis.
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