Nightmares & Night Terrors


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Firstly, most of us will have experienced a nightmare at some point, either as an adult, a child or both and you are not alone. Night-terrors are less known and are a form of parasomnia which often involves someone screaming, crying and waking up incredibly frightened. Unlike nightmares, night-terrors are not normally remembered in great detail in the morning. Sometimes night-terrors can be confused with nightmares, so it is important to note the difference and that nightmares will more than likely be remembered in detail.

Children & Nightmares & Night Terrors

Nightmares occur later in the night during REM sleep and night-terrors occur earlier on in the night during NREM sleep. Nightmares are not technically described as sleeping disorders, even though in children they can cause a lot of upset and disruption to sleep. In these cases it is advised that parents try and issue control over their children’s sleep, and whilst it does seem quite cruel, the parents are encouraged to leave the child crying for a few minutes before responding and to not fuss over or mention the nightmare. Thus, the child hopefully learns to sleep by itself. Equally, if a child experiences night-terrors, the less fuss the better as the event will hopefully be forgotten in the morning.

Adults & Nightmares & Night Terrors

Unlike other parasomnias, nightmares and night-terrors will be found less commonly but still quite considerably in adults. Recurring nightmares are thought to be the mind working over emotional troubles during REM sleep and a nightmare stems from an inability to solve the problem, even if the nightmare does not seem relevant to the possible emotional issue. We can control our dreams to some extent and often if we think of how to change the nightmare that we may be repeatedly suffering from, then it can sometimes eradicate the nightmare fully. Positive thinking during the day that your nightmare will go away can really help and make your nightmares far less upsetting.

Coping with Nightmares & Night Terrors

Night-terrors are a common ordinary occurrence in children, and in a small number of adults. However, sometimes adults are thought to be suffering from some kind of stress if they experience them frequently. People who are more likely to suffer from night-terrors are thought to be more easily hypnotised which can be used to cure them. To reduce the number of night-terrors experienced, especially in children, it is recommended to establish a bedtime routine; ensure the individual is not stressed and that the bedroom is a relaxing atmosphere associated with sleep and harmony. It may also be a good idea to monitor the sleeping pattern of the nightmare/night-terror sufferer as frequent occurrences over a long period of time may need a referral to a doctor or sleep specialist.


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