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Sleeping Disorders: Night Terrors

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Discussion on sleeping disorders and night terrors.

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      26.09.2011 11:59
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      Suffering from night terrors

      I've always been a restless sleeper - talking and moving in my sleep but it wasn't until my adult years that I started to get night terrors. The first one I remember was when I was 16 years old and I leaped out of bed and ran straight into the bedroom wall.

      Night terrors are terrifying for the sufferer and for the person you are sharing a bed with. It is extremely disorientating and difficult to wake up. Some experts say that if you remember the dream then it's not a night terror it's just a nightmare - not everyone agrees with this. I often find that I don't remember the dream just the feeling of being frightened of something. Most of my night terrors are seeing spiders, people in my room or falling to what usually feels like my death.

      Night terrors are more common in children but they do also affect adults. I'll sit bolt up right in bed with my heart racing and breathing heavily. My husband tells me that I'll often open my eyes and tell him what's wrong but I very rarely remember this. I have also started screaming, clambering across the bed and jumping backwards. I have injured myself a couple of times but luckily nothing too serious.

      I've discovered that my night terrors are often related to stress and being extremely tired. The biggest triggers I've had so far in my life are - exams, moving house and getting married. However sometimes they happen quite randomly when I feel relaxed and don't feel particularly tired. I've spoken to my GP and also looked around on the Internet to help to control my sleeping. Some suggestions are:

       Avoid caffeine after 8pm
       Regular sleeping patterns
       Herbal calming remedies
       Herbal sleeping tablets

      Another suggestion is setting an alarm or getting someone to gently wake you about 30 minutes after you fall asleep, to disturb your pattern.

      My husband generally knows how to calm me now but it varies with each episode. Sometimes he gently speaks to me, so I hear a familiar and safe voice and sometimes he hugs me or rubs my back. Because night terrors are so frightening and you don't know where you are or what's happening, you need reassurance to bring your thoughts around so that you realise you're dreaming and are in fact safe.

      For anyone who has a partner or child who has night terrors - my only advice would be, please be understanding. They don't know what's happening and shouting at them only makes it worse. They may look like they're awake but they're not.

      I once had a terror so bad that when I woke up properly the next morning I was still crying. I felt stupid, still scared and isolated. Unless you speak to someone who also suffers, people cannot fully understand what it's like.

      Don't get me wrong, I know my husband suffers too. It must be terrifying to be woken abruptly in the middle of the night with someone anxiously climbing across you, or screaming or leaping out of bed. However, for the sufferer, it is also out of their control.

      If you have any questions or indeed any advice, please feel free to contact me.

      Thank you for reading.

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