Night terrors can be defined as undesirable characteristics or behaviour during sleep. Night terror, in most cases, occurs at the most profound moment of eye closure which is obviously during sleep.
In Night terrors, dreams are a collection of thoughts, images, and sensations in a person’s mind while they are asleep. The brain’s home movies have been dubbed dreams. When the lights are dimmed, and sleep takes hold, the brain appears to process the day’s events through sight, sound, and taste. Those dreams might be amazing if the day was fun. However, if the day has been stressful or upsetting, those dreams can quickly devolve into nightmare territory. Night terrors can remain etched in the memory of a sleeper when they awaken. They can also colour the person’s perception in the days since, impacting that person’s normalcy of doing things.
Night terrors are not the same as nightmares, even though they occur while sleeping. Unlike nightmares, it is more common in children than in adults. They can also occur during the deepest sleep stages, when nightmares grow gradually and fade away, much like normal dreams. Some people are irritated by these episodes, and the dreamer barely recalls what happened when morning arrives. If the dreamer isn’t awakened during an episode, they can wake up feeling good the next day. That isn’t to say that it can be overlooked. Some people who have night terrors are particularly aggressive, and they kill themselves or others as a result. They can also reveal valuable information about a person’s physical and mental health.
A Sleeping Brain
Sleep isn’t a one-dimensional operation. During sleep, the brain switches from one form of brain wave to another and back again, and although these cycles are not apparent to the naked eye, they are critical to the brain’s long-term health. Night terrors tend to take advantage of certain periods of transition, as the episodes appear to take hold in the transition between deep and light sleep. This is when the brain is sedated and still, so the person remembers nothing about the episode.
But for people on the outside, a night terror episode can be terrifying. People like this can:
- Flail their arms
- Engage in violent acts
- Sit up
- Seem difficult to awaken
- They are inconsolable
- Heavy breathing and sweating
- Staring wide-eyed
This type of night terrors can strike during childhood when the brain is still developing, and the sleeper has little control over what happens at night. According to Nemours, about three to six per cent of children experience night terrors, and those who do are usually between the ages of four and twelve. When the teen years begin, these episodes often fade away.
However, according to the Sleep Health Foundation, they can take root in adults, as one to two per cent of the adult population suffers from a sleep disorder.
People with this condition often have had it since childhood, and they may also have other sleep problems such as sleep apnea and sleepwalking. Sleep apnea is a sleeping condition in which breathing stops and starts regularly. It may be caused by ageing or obesity.
Night terrors can affect both adults and children, but children are more likely to experience them. Both children and adults are terrified by the following factors:
- Children with night terrors are more likely to have episodes when they are sleepy and nervous before bedtime. Going to sleep in a strange location or playing a stressful game before bedtime can trigger a night terror episode in a young person, watching a horror movie with violent characters and many killings. Adults may encounter similar causes, but they may also manifest as a result of job tension, romantic problems, or upcoming life challenges.
- Night terrors are exacerbated by sleep disturbance. Noises from inside or outside the home and a lack of peace with oneself may all disturb sleep. Screams from fighting parents, screams from the neighbourhood where criminals are stealing, and thunderstorm noises may wake one up in the middle of the night, and when they return to sleep, all of these things may seem to haunt them, causing panic. People like this are under a lot of stress, and they can only show it while they’re sleeping.
- Adults, too, may have underlying health issues such as sleep apnea, migraines, or head trauma, which can all lead to an episode of night terrors. Migraine is a headache that varies in severity daily and may be accompanied by nausea or light sensitivity. Adults who use illegal drugs or consume alcohol have been related to having night terrors. Some medications, such as cannabis, have harmful implications for users who experience hallucinations. For example, a drug addict may have hallucinations of being in a foreign world where everyone is trying to kill him, and he wakes up crying, sweating, and breathing heavily.
When Do You See a Doctor?
In most cases, occasional sleep terrors aren’t a cause for alarm. You should clearly discuss your child’s sleep terrors at a regular well-child test.
However, if You’re Having Night Terrors, See Your Doctor.
- If night terrors are more frequent
- Disrupt the sleep of the person experiencing sleep terrors or other family members regularly.
- As a result, there is a risk of injuries or safety issues.
- Excessive sleepiness or problems working during the day can occur.
- Continue after adolescence or begin when you’re an adult.
Standard Treatment Approaches for Night Terrors
Night terrors are uncommonly associated with a diagnosable mental disorder such as anxiety or depression. According to experts, it does not seem to be a part of anyone’s mental health syndrome. On the other hand, people with anxiety-based disorders are more likely to have night terrors because they often experience a level of pain related to sleep problems. Similarly, people who take stimulant drugs to treat a mental disorder can experience night terrors as their bodies adapt to the drugs. As a result, treatments to help people with night terrors are often used in Dual Diagnosis services.
When it comes to psychiatry and mental illness, therapy is crucial. Night terrors are a form of mental disorder that is treatable. Today, many therapists will help you with your problem by simply arranging a low-cost session. Therapeutic care is almost always effective. Treatments are often intended to correct the root cause of the sleep disorder, which can necessitate the intervention of medical practitioners in the treatment process.
In a study published in the Journal Sleep, for example, breathing problems during sleep were related to night terrors. Without breath, a person’s body goes through a surge of arousal, which can cause night terrors. The apnea problem could be overcome, and the resulting terror could be alleviated by supplying people like this with sleep apnea devices that hold the airways open at all times during the night. As a result, a combination of counselling and medical brilliance will help resolve the issue.
When addiction has been handled, and the person no longer feels compelled to abuse drugs, night terrors episodes caused by alcohol or drugs can also resolve. When drugs or alcohol abuse is treated, night terror episodes may resolve similarly, so long as the person is no longer compelled to abuse those substances.
Drug addiction can be treated by counselling sessions, long-term recovery, or being made acutely aware of drug abuse risks. Assume the reactions are caused by prescription drugs used to treat a mental illness. Those with Night Terrors may need to undergo more tweaking and customization for a longer period, and the road to recovery may be a little bumpier. Nonetheless, it can be useful in allowing people to sleep peacefully and without interruption.
Getting enough sleep is an excellent way to deal with night terrors. Sleeping and recharging the brain should always be a priority for children and adults alike. To prepare mentally for sleep, one should develop a daily calming routine before bedtime. For any excuse, children should not be able to stay up late at night.
Night terrors disorder can be treated by reducing stress. Parents must be careful not to force their children too hard, as this creates tension, which can lead to terror—parents’ acts when their children are present are also significant. If the parents are continually bickering and battling, this could harm the children’s psychology. Teachers may also contribute to children’s night terrors by forcing them to overwork, bullying them, or punishing them harshly. Both of these things should be avoided at all costs. Adults should seek stress management counselling. The source of stress may be the workplace, spouses, children, a lack of funds, or even the state.
It’s not easy to deal with various health issues simultaneously, but Dual Diagnosis recovery services are structured to make it easier. Please call our toll free number 615-490-9376 if you’d like to learn more about how to locate a recovery facility for someone you care for. We can deduce those night terrors are common, especially among children. However, it becomes risky when the victims are in danger of injuring themselves or others. If it gets to this point, it’s best to seek a therapist or a doctor’s guidance if your night terrors get bad.
Ben Lesser is one of the most sought-after experts in health, fitness and medicine. His articles impress with unique research work as well as field-tested skills. He is a freelance medical writer specializing in creating content to improve public awareness of health topics. We are honored to have Ben writing exclusively for Dualdiagnosis.org.