What Your Dreams Mean for Your Mental Health

Recently, I have been having bad dreams. Not in a nightmare way with a world of goblins and monsters, but in a way that my real-life demons are beginning to attack me. I feel that dreams and my anxiety have become extremely interconnected recently, so I wanted to research more into the world of REM. 


I found Banyan Mental Health, a Florida based rehabilitation clinic for those who are struggling with mental illness or addiction. In an article entitled “Depression and Dreams: How Mental Health Affects Your Dreams,” the doctors at the clinic illustrate how depression and anxiety affect both the quality of sleep and what they mean for their patients. 


For depression, Banyan Mental Health states that people who suffer with depression dream up to three times more than those who do not. This can lead to more consistent fatigue, which can make depression more difficult to manage. Additionally, these dreams can be more scary, which can also make depression worse. This also leads to a dread of sleeping, which can cause insomnia. 


With anxiety, Banyan Mental Health claims that insomnia can be more prominent. Also, anxiety can lead to dreams that cause restlessness. This can cause people with anxiety to also suffer with their wellness. Banyan Mental Health cites that therapy can help significantly combat bad dreams for those with anxiety. 


Banyan Mental Health also highlights how drugs and alcohol can impact dreams. When combining drugs, depression or anxiety. Dreams can manifest into something entirely more extreme. Oftentimes people use substances to cope with trauma, so their dreams are more likely to be related to their mental health. Therefore, limiting the reliance of drugs and alcohol will help you limit the amount of nightmares you are having. 


sleep Photo by elizabeth lies from Unsplash

Overall, it seems that dreaming with a mental illness can lead you to feel more tired. Personally, I am sick of feeling fatigued due to a poor night’s sleep, and the addition of running on low energy leads to very stressful days. 


Here are some steps I am going to follow to try and improve my sleep patterns and reduce the amount of nightmares I have. The Harvard’s Women’s Health Watch for Harvard Medical Journal suggests these tips and tricks (here is the link for some more information: https://www.health.harvard.edu/sleep/8-secrets-to-a-good-nights-sleep) : 

  1. Exercise

  2. Reserve the bed for sleep and sex

  3. Keep it comfortable

  4. Start a routine 

  5. Eat, but not too much 

  6. Avoid alcohol and caffeine 

  7. De-stress

  8. Get checked out by a doctor 


One other method I have been trying is melatonin. I have enjoyed how melatonin helps me fall asleep faster and easier, so I do not stay up overthinking. Melatonin is a hormone that is released from the pineal gland. However, it can be taken orally to deal with insomnia. I have been taking melatonin for a while, so perhaps limiting the use will give me better results. 


I hope these tips can help you through your sleep patterns. Taking accountability for your journey to improve little parts of your life will lead to great benefits. I wish you well, and I hope you have a great night's sleep and sweet dreams.