While reading the class blog, I stumbled upon a post that was about all the different types of dreams someone can have. It inspired me to explore what exactly a sleep/night terror actually was.
For most of my life I have had very detailed dreams that seem almost too realistic. Within the past few years my dreams have transitioned from pleasant dreams and nightmares to sleep/night terrors. Just to give you an idea of how extremely scary sleep terrors can be I’ll try to explain how I experience them. The best way I can describe the sensation to you is that you feel like your body (eyes,arms,hands, feet, and legs) are not functioning but your brain is. My sleep terrors usually start off with me being surrounded by ghosts or other demonic things that want to harm/possess me. Because I am half asleep-half awake my mind assumes that everything happening to me is in real life. I try to scream for help from my parents but because my body is not awake my mouth does not open, and my words make no sound. I try to run away from the things trying to harm me but my body cannot move, it is frozen in time. I try to lift my arms to wake myself up, but yet again my body is frozen. I am forced to go through the night terror without any way of stopping it or waking myself up.
Picture from here.
From reading multiple articles, a common fact of knowledge is that sleep terrors occur when a child is of the elementary school age but can outgrow the sleep phenomenon when they get older. In fact it is so uncommon in adults that almost all of the websites and articles I found were geared towards children and babies. I find this pattern strange because when I was little I never had a sleep terror but within the past few years I have started to get them. I wanted to know why exactly sleep terrors occur. To learn more about sleep terrors I visited the American Sleep Association website. From reading the section about sleep terrors on their website I learned that sleep terrors take place pre-REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement- causes vivid dreaming), or deep sleep.
I also found out that only 2% of adults have had sleep terrors, which makes me apart of a very small statistic (American Sleep Association 2007). Adults who do have sleep terrors are usually triggered by an emotional or traumatic event in their life. It can also be linked to those with depression, anxiety or mood disorders. So far in my life I have not had anything traumatic happen to me or have any psychological problems, so I seem to be the exception to the trend.
Due to the fact that the occurrence of sleep terrors in adults is so unlikely, the American Sleep Association recommends that those who do have them go to an overnight sleep study. The study called polysomnogram monitors what factors could be to leading to your sleep interruption or sleep terror. The test works by watching activity of your brain waves, noting where the brain region activity is being used prior to the phenomenon in an attempt to tell you how you might reverse the problem.
Personally I feel like my sleep terrors happen too few a times to actually have a sleep study done on me. I wonder if there are other contributing factors as to why I get them. I think a few possibilities as to why I may get sleep terrors is based off of my diet, the amount of sleep I normally get, and maybe seeing something scary on Netflix or Tv.
I stumbled upon a video on YouTube called Is Sleep Paralysis Giving You Night Terrors? . Within his opening anecdote of the video, Kyle Hill describes a sleep terror almost exactly like mine. It put me at ease to know I was not the only person who experienced this (also to reassure me that I am not a crazy person). If you are still curious or interested about sleep terrors, I would give the video a watch!