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Eye On Health: Nightmares

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Nightmares can be a terrifying experience, so much so that it can keep you from getting a restful night's sleep.

Now, there's a method that is helping some people find a peaceful night's sleep.

In the box office smash, "Inception," a highly skilled thief invades people's dreams.

"I know how to search your mind and find the secrets. I know the tricks."

Controlling dreams is what nine year old Mark Sutter learned to do after suffering the same nightmare for a year and a half.

"Someone was trying to chase me and trying to kill me during my dreams," says Sutter.

Mark asked his parents for help when the lack of sleep affected his schoolwork.

"He would panic right before it was time to sleep," says Diana Colamarino, Mark's Mom.

"I was scared and sometimes I would wake up sweating and screaming," says Mark.

Mark went to therapist Doctor Shelby Harris. She believes it's possible to influence your dreams.

"Essentially it's a way of giving yourself control over the nightmares that you're having," Dr. Harris

Dr. Shelby uses a technique called 'Imagery Rehearsal Therapy,' or IRT. Until now, it's been used mostly with adults suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but a recent study shows it also works with children."

"I teach people to take the nightmare they have and then to change it any way they want. And then you imagine that changed dream in your head, and you picture it. I usually have patients do it twice a day, once in the morning and once right before bed," says Dr. Harris.

"I made the guy chocolate, and I made us bunnies and I made us eat him, so that's how I got over it," says Mark.

"Not just thinking, but seeing the person chasing him, seeing the person turn to chocolate and then eating the person. That's what actually helped him, and he practiced it twice a day," says Dr. Harris.

"I haven't had a nightmare since," says Mark.

Dr. Harris says there's no harm in trying the technique yourself. Visualize your version of your dream and the nightmare could be over.

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