The main causes of nightmares are fears, anxieties, worries and other psychological stresses, and eating too much food late at night. There may be other physical causes, such as problems with adenoids, or sleep apnea, or nasal crust that doesn't allow adequate breathing. Whenever there is cerebral hypoxia - lack of oxygen and prana to the brain - the person can get nightmares. This can occur even due to insufficient fresh air in the room.
The main cause of nightmares in children is psychological - fear and anxiety based on frightening images they have seen or scary stories they have heard. So it is important not to feed the child's imagination with disturbing images. Keep children busy with creative play and don't let them watch violent or horrifying television programmes or read frightening stories.Give the child a mini oil massage before bed. Rub some oil, especially brahmi oil or bhringaraj oil, on the soles of the feet and on the scalp. This will help relax the child. Sometimes nightmares come as a result of bedwetting. To help prevent this, see that the child doesn't drink much for at least two hours before going to sleep. Some cumin-coriander-fennel tea (again, not just before bedtime) can help prevent bedwetting.
Make a tea from equal proportions of jatamamsi brahmi ginkgo yashti madhu (licorice root)Drinking a cup of this tea (made from one teaspoon of the herbal mix steeped in one cup hot water) before going to bed will help create a more peaceful mind and body. This tea is good for children as well as adults. You can also make a similar tea of equal amounts of jatamamsi and shanka pushpi.
Herbs for allergies: If allergies are the cause of the nightmares, you can help remedy them with sitopaladi and yashti madhu. Mix them in equal proportions, and take ½ teaspoon of each with honey twice a day. For children, use ¼ teaspoon of each.
Jatamamsi: If you sew an ounce or two of the herb jatamamsi inside a small silk bag and place it under the pillow, its fragrance will help create a tranquil night.
Nasya: Doing nasya will help. Put 2 to 3 drops of warm ghee or any Ayurvedic nose drops (such as brahmi ghee) in each nostril and inhale. Nasya is equally effective for children.
Eat early: Eat dinner before seven o'clock. Eating too late at night may create nightmares.
Cut down on stress: Yoga asanas, tad asana, sunbathing, pranam asana, Alternate Nostril pranayama, and meditation in morning and evening help to relax the nervous system and reduce stress.
Sun bathing: Stand upright with arms straight near the hips. Close the eyes and let the early morning sun gently bathe the closed eyelids. Be in this pose for a few minutes and then do palming i.e. rubbing together the palms and then placing them on the eyelids.
Tad asana: Stand upright on toes and stretch hands overhead. Intertwine the fingers feel the stretch. Hold position for a few minutes and re-lease the posture.
Pranam asana: Stand upright with feet together, heels together, knees together and hands on chest in prayer position. Remain in this pose for a few minutes, breathing evenly. Do this asana morning and evening three times each.
Anu lom vilom pranayama: Sit in a comfortable upright position and close your right nostril with your thumb. Inhale with left nostril and then close left nostril with the ring finger. The index and middle finger are at the base of the thumb. Exhale through right nostril. Then inhale through right nostril and exhale through left. Yoga, prayer, positive thinking, positive affirmations and positive imagination are the best medications for nightmares.