This Is the Best Way to Have Better Dreams

If you can dream it, you can do it.

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When you close your eyes after a long day, you probably wish you saw yourself winning the lottery, sipping a tropical drink on the beach, or sitting by the fire with that special someone. Instead, when we finally fall asleep, we're often faced with nightmares about our teeth falling out, being chased, falling, or whatever other phobias manifest themselves in our dreams. But there are some things you can do to help your subconscious have better dreams at night.

Lauri Quinn Loewenberg, a professional dream analyst and the author of Dream on It: Unlock Your Dreams, Change Your Life, says the key to better dreams is your waking thoughts. "The thing to remember about dreams is that they are a continuation of your thoughts from the day," says Loewenberg. "That inner dialogue we have with ourselves all day long continues as we drift off, but now it is merely in a different language." 

So, whatever is on your mind when you're awake will come to light in your dreams. "Our dreams will focus on our most pressing issues, good or bad," says Loewenberg. A day spent worrying about paying rent, for example, will be translated into a nighttime vision that includes those same feelings of stress and anxiety. A day spent productively, meanwhile, will lead to dreams that mirror the sense of accomplishment you've felt throughout the day. 

You can take advantage of that link between the unconscious and conscious mind with a few tricks. The first way to have better dreams is to "think about something that makes you smile as you drift off," says Loewenstein. Whether it's an upcoming event, a cherished memory, or even a fantasy, filling your mind with upbeat thoughts will increase the odds of those desirable elements being incorporated into your dreams.

Of course, that's all easier said than done and negative thoughts are bound to creep in. One way you can deal with what's plaguing you is to journal daily, Loewenberg says. Instead of viewing it as venting, come up with ways you could deal with those problems. "Be sure to write out possible solutions to them or how you would like them to be resolved," says Loewenberg. Doing so will help get frustrating or anxiety-provoking thoughts off your mind, stopping them from following you into astral plane. Plus, in a practical sense, productive journaling can help sort out your thoughts and may even lead to good ideas on how to solve your problems.

But it's not just your thoughts that creep into your dreams—it's what's going on around you physically as well. "Outside interference," according to Loewenstein, is when "something in the real world, such as a smell or a sound, will be seamlessly incorporated into your dream story."

To take advantage of this fact, spray pleasant smells on your pillow or diffuse them throughout your bedroom. "Any scent that makes you happy—cinnamon, cookies, your man's cologne—can induce pleasant dreams," she explains.

The short of it is, you have more control of your dreams than you think you do. All you have to do to set yourself up for better dreams is use a spritz of something sweet and spend your waking hours thinking positively. "Leonardo da Vinci once said, 'A day well spent brings happy sleep,'" Loewenstein quotes. "And that right there is the key." And if you want more help understanding your dreams, check out 50 Secrets Your Dreams Are Trying to Tell You.

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