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on Apr 27th 2000, 09:33:30, nitehawk wrote the following about


Night Terrors

Night Terrors...the name is quite descriptive of what it feels like to have this
experience, which is also called Sleep Terror, Pavor Nocturnus, incubus, severe
autonomic discharge, & night terrors. These events are characterized by the sleeper
suddenly becoming awake, usually screaming or crying out, and the dreamer may
even for a moment try to escape the dream image that terrified them. At this point,
sleepwalking can occur. In my case, I would bolt out of bed and RUN to get away
from what was terrifying me. I was going to display a graphic image from my own
night terror, but I have not been able to find anyone who can depict the scene
accurately enough. Maybe one day. The night terrors I had started out with amnesia,
so I would wake up absolutely terrified but have no recall of what I was so flippin'
upset about! Over the years (about 15) I was finally able to start remembering what
the dream image was that so terrified me. Once I learned how to use a combination
of lucid dreaming and dream interpretation methods, I was able to overcome this
terror in a series of dreams. These dreaming events transformed my life. I call these
dreams my »Angel Dreams

Getting back to Night Terrors, here is what happens within the body during an
episode: the autonomic nervous system is activated, which stimulates feelings of
intense fear via the »fight or flight« response. Some people have anxiety attacks on
top of this autonomic response mechanism, and/or have asthma attacks as well. If
this is a frequent occurance, it might help to keep a good old-fashioned paper bag
next to the bed, so you can breathe into it and prevent hyperventilating and resume
normal breathing.

This episode of terror usually occurs within the first third part of the night, with
partial or total amnesia of what dream images caused the night terror, if any.
Polysomnographic monitoring demonstrates the onset of episodes during stage 3 or 4
in the sleep cycle. Tachycardia usually occurs in association with the episodes, which
is part of the autonomic response »fight or flightIt is helpful to realize that this is a
normal physical response, and to start breathing slowly and deeply, bringing your
accelerated heartrate and breathing rate back to normal range. This autonomic
response with it's sudden surge of adrenaline is used to prepare the body for either
fighting or fleeing danger, a predator, or any life- threatening situation. The body is
primed for speed and strength, giving one a better chance of »coming out alive.« This
is the response mechanism that enables a woman to lift a car off of her child, for
When this autonomic response accompanies a nightmare or night terror, it is
important to reorient yourself (or the one affected) and start breathing slowly &
deeply, calming down from this surge of adrenaline. Remind yourself you are NOT in
danger, you are ok, and that the feelings you are having are caused by the adrenaline
surge and not real danger. Also try to resist getting up and pacing around until you
are more alert and less likely to injure yourself. Then read or watch something
PLEASANT on t.v., call a tolerant friend, or do something to get your mind off that
scary feeling until you feel better able to sleep. If you feel a type of »fogginess« or
dulling of the mental senses, try to avoid going back to sleep or you may fall right
back into the same sleep pattern and have another night terror. At least, this has been
my own experience.

How often do these Night Terrors occur? It varies. Some people have episodes less
than once per month, without harm to themselves or others. Some people experience
episodes less than once per week, without harm to themselves or others. In its
severest form they occur almost nightly, and/or occur with unintentional physical
injury to the person affected, or to others nearby. It would be wise to contact a sleep
disorder clinic if you fall into the second or third category, certainly. I have a link to
sleep disorders clinics, below.

Here's a link to a huge resource on sleep disorders, by NASA:

Sleep Disorder Resources

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