How to Control Your Dreams

Cold blue chills run down your body. An electric charge snakes across your skin. Your pupils dilate. Your muscles tighten. You look into the darkness ahead and…and the next morning you have absolutely no idea what happened next. All you can remember is the sickening wash of fear as your mind was hijacked and held hostage by a nightmare.

Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Believe it or not, it’s not just our kids who have nightmares. Nearly 70 percent of adults do as well — with an amazing 30 percent of us reporting that these terrifying dreams jerk us out of sleep as often as once a month.

Nightmares are a sign of overload. Check with a doctor, psychiatrist, or therapist if you’re depressed, if they recur, or if you discover that your dreams are caused by distressing feelings from the past that have been triggered by current events. Otherwise, here’s how Rosalind Cartwright, Ph.D., director of the sleep disorder service at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center in Chicago and suggests you keep them at bay:

Recognize that the dream is bad while you’re having it.

This may sound impossible to do, but it’s not. Simply resolve that you’re going to do this before you fall asleep. It may take a few tries, but you’ll get the hang of it.

Identify what in the dream makes you feel bad.

What are the feelings or events involved?

Stop any bad dream.

Believe it or not, you can do it — often simply by recognizing that it’s bad.

Change the ending.

Turn what’s negative into something positive. You may have to wake up to do it, but eventually you’ll be able to tell yourself to write a better ending as you sleep.

Keep a dream diary.

Write down your dreams every morning. All your dreams, not just the nightmares. Then periodically review the ones that trouble you. Try to figure out why they’re upsetting.

Want to stay smart and healthy?

Get our weekly Health Reads newsletter

how we use your e-mail

Some people like to travel by train because 
it combines the slowness of a car with the cramped public exposure of 
an airplane.

Dennis Miller

I think my pilot was a little inexperienced. We were sitting on the runway, and he said, “OK, folks, we’re gonna be taking off in a just few—whoa! Here we go.”

Kevin Nealon

“I can’t wait until your vacation is over.” 
—Everyone following you on Instagram


A man knocked on my door and asked for a donation toward the local swimming pool. So I gave him a glass of water.

Comedian Greg Davies

Funny Jokes

Just found the worst page in the entire dictionary. What I saw was disgraceful, disgusting, dishonest, and disingenuous.


Funny Jokes

Client: We need you to log in to the YouTube and make all our company videos viral.


Funny Jokes

My cat just walked up to the paper shredder and said, “Teach me 
everything you know.”


Funny Jokes

“Just because you can’t dance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dance.” 

@yoyoha (Josh Hara)

Funny Jokes

My parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned 60 and that’s the law.

—Jerry Seinfeld

Funny Jokes

Q: What do you call an Amish guy with his hand in a horse’s mouth?

A: A mechanic.