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It's Therapeutic Thursday!

Today is Therapeutic Thursday at Aortic Hope.

❓How many of you have experienced more nightmares or unpleasant dreams since your diagnosis of aortic disease or your aortic dissection/aneurysm surgery?

😴In the Sleep Foundation, Rob Newsom wrote in the article titled, "How Trauma Can Affect Dreams" that "Dreams often reflect what we see and feel while we’re awake, so after a traumatic experience it’s common to have nightmares and anxiety dreams. The content of these disturbed dreams often incorporates similar feelings and sensations to those experienced during the trauma."

😵‍Many in the community have reported having dreams that they are drowning, or losing a fight etc. These dreams represent our vulnerability, inability to control things and when they involve water, it may be directly related to a subconscious awareness of the breathing machine. Regardless, having nightmares may be problematic.

"Dreams can simulate threatening events and allow us to try out different response. Being exposed to threats while safely asleep may reduce our fears and allow access to other areas of the brain important in creativity and decision making. This idea is supported by research that demonstrates that we are more likely to approach threatening situations in our dreams than to avoid them."

It's very common to have nightmares especially after a traumatic event. However, it is very important that if these nightmares are causing issues with sleep, you should consult a physician. Rob goes on to say "In addition to seeking professional support when coping with the effects of trauma, it may be helpful to consider strategies to support healthy sleep hygiene."

"~Remember that symptoms may be normal: Immediately after having a traumatic experience, it’s normal to have difficulty sleeping. Be gentle on yourself and remember that your body is attempting to process and cope with the event.

~Maintain your usual sleep routine: Sleep and routine go hand in hand. After trauma it may be tempting to withdraw or change our normal daily activities. Try to keep to your usual sleep routine to give your body the best chance for a restful night.

~Relax before bed: Instead of trying to pressure yourself into falling asleep, focus on finding ways to calm your mind and body before bed. Turn off electronics and try some relaxation methods that may help you fall asleep.

~If you can’t sleep, don’t stay in bed: Staying in bed when you can’t sleep can create an unhelpful association between the bed and sleeplessness. If you find yourself lying awake for more than 20 minutes, try getting out of bed and doing something relaxing, like reading a book or listening to gentle music."

Experiencing trauma can increase the risk of a multitude of mental and physical health issues, including suicide. If you or someone you know is in crisis, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support. 1-800-273-8255

For more information, check out the article here.

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