Documenting & Researching Night Terrors

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Coffin Remedies

Coffin Remedies, also known as sleep aids for those of us whose dreams venture far and beyond the underworld, can take many forms. From Melatonin to Diphenhydramine, the natural to the over the counter, it all sounds good doesn’t it? The very thought of all of your sleeping troubles being chased away by a drug is appealing to many of us. But when you have a sleeping disorder such as insomnia, restless leg syndrome, exploding head syndrome, or night terrors, the temptation is an itch that is just too deep not to scratch. So what do we do?- we buy up this market and make ourselves sick off of a promise of better sleep. Our bodies pay the toll for side effects and long term illness. For some of us these medications do not lesson the suffering, but instead worsen it over time.

I have never been fond of sleeping pills. If I take them for more than 4 consecutive nights my sleep suddenly jumps into full terror mode at 500%. This is not doing anyone good. Over the years the most promising natural method has been Melatonin. It has come recommended by doctors, pharmacists, friends and relatives. It is natural and ancient. It beats the heat, the cold, the menstrual pain, the common cold, massive migraines, almost anything keeping you from getting a good nights sleep. Melatonin must be taken right before bed in a dark room. Taking Melatonin and staying in a well lit room will confuse your body’s sleep mode and cause other long term effects. One of these effects rumoured and suspect is cancer. But you would have to be taking plenty of Melatonin for several years during light hours for it to work. The scoop is Melatonin is naturally produced by your body and enables you to wander off to dream land. The wonderful think about Melatonin is that is puts you off to sleep but does not keep you asleep which is key for those of us who have to wake up at 5am and get ready for work and NOT be groggy and miserable. It works best when sleeping in a dark room because your body interprets the dark as a cue to start producing chemicals for sleeping. I have found that 1-2 Melatonin can be quite calming, and produce the right amount of sleepiness without irritating me into exploding head syndrome.

At the moment however I find take Melatonin for long periods of time (2weeks plus) can irritate my sleep causing worse terrors. So I am forced to take a break from it for about a week or so and practice 2 weeks on and 2 weeks off. The problem is I can not continue to live my life like this. If I knew night terrors would end soon I could manage, however they do not seem to be going anywhere. I am now experimenting with Valerian.

Valerian is an old world drug like Melatonin taken by the ancients. However Valerian is also known as the “sleeping beauty drug”. Valerian was discovered by mistake by people who enjoyed the presence of this flowering plant. In the UK if someone rested among the flowering Valerian plants in the forest they often became very relaxed and soothed by it’s presence. What they did not understand was the flower was acting as a muscle relaxant and triggering a heightened stage of calm for both the physical sensations and the mind. Some people fell asleep in patches of Valerian and would sleep for hours, and some for days. There were rare cases of people going to sleep in the forest and dieing over the course of several days as their organs became so relaxed and slow functioning they began to shut down one by one until death overcame them. The good news is, Valerian being a natural herbal remedy also has a natural poison cautionary effect of vomiting accompanied by the most terrible fungal smell you will ever experience in your life. Granted, Valerian is a viscous smelling drug and if it does not work to soothe your body, then the smell will chase the terrors away!

So far I have found it wonderful for relieving anxiety in the morning and before bed. As of currently my anxiety has shot up tremendously causing severe chest pains and worsening my sleep. So far Valerian seems to be taking a surprising amount of this anxiety away. I understand however that it works differently for everyone. Some people must take it for 3 or more weeks to notice the effects, others such as myself can take it over the course of a few days and feel the effects. I will update more as the results steady or change.

I have found drug store brand sleeping pills adequate, and when needing a quick fix it does the trick. But I am sure that many of you, like myself are wondering, “There must be another way?” Well this path is long and overgrown and may take a while to discover more of. I’ll just be sure not to fall asleep in the middle of it.


1408

Sometimes when we dream, the details are not only specific but a little spooky too.

I had a terrible night last night. I had gone to bed around 1:00am and woke around 5:30am or 6am?- I just remember it was first light. It felt like I had been dreaming hours and hours though. I had a dream that started off well enough and then without warning began to spiral out of control.

I was viewing a home with two other female friends when all of a sudden there was this urgency to leave. Something terrible was going to happen and I could feel it. I didn’t leave through the front doors and since I was in a refinished basement I didn’t dare go upstairs either. I looked around for my other two friends so we could leave together and it was like I had an all seeing being guiding me who said, “They’ve already left. They escaped through the window.” I had this sense of panic and extreme urgency to leave. I also had terrible feelings that if I was to leave the room I was in I would bump into someone who intended to harm me and this made me very fearful. This is strange however because I can’t think of anything that represents this thing in my dream except for the devil. I began seeing flashes of this “thing” that was evil, a non-gendered morbid looking person with white eyes and very ice blue iris. It was dressed like a person and for the most part resemled a person but had it’s mouth open and was growling and seething. It throwing open doors, scratching at the walls, knocking things over, searching. I don’t know what it was searching for but it was on a rampage and I had to get out. I eventually climbed up onto a high ledge which was very nerve wrecking because I kept on falling everytime I got up there. It was kind of like a bay window that started 6feet off the ground. Except the ledge was built out from the wall made up of glass and beams. I was so terrified of it cracking because that meant I couldn’t reach the window and escape. The fear and intensity grew and grew. I could feel my heart pumping and raging like it was going to rip out of my chest. The window was a flip window and I pushed it open and finally escaped in the end; running into the yard. My dream flashed out at this point and I know it continued but I only remember the most terrifying parts.

The entire time though, I was having a “mind” conversation with this thing. It was arguing with me about something. I don’t know what. It kept on repeating over and over about how stupid I was to argue with it, I would never get away. It had been here for over 602 years, how dare I challenge it. Well I’ve been researching what’s happened now and 602 years ago (1408) and honestly I am a little stumped. What do these numbers mean and why would I be dreaming about them specifically? Anyways, I awoke totally creeped out and went for a walk around my place to cool off.

Hmm…


Does it feel like you were just hit by a truck? You probably were.

One of the many stressers of night terrors is feeling the after effects of your dream. I know for myself that there are times when my dream causes me physical pain and when I awake in the morning I still feel the pain.

Some years ago I had dreams that I was running far away from something and when I got to a set of stairs, kept on falling and could not make it up the stairs. Every morning when I woke up the tops of my legs hurt and upon inspection I found multiple bruises on them. One night I awoke in the middle of my dream and found myself walking repeatedly into the desk in my room. This now made sense, the bruises were in perfect alignment with the top of my desk.

Recently I have been having dreams that I am rock climbing (without support or equipment) and fall off in a crushing blow to the ground. I do not die and sustain no injuries. However even in my dream I feel the wind knocked out of me and my body is aching in pain. When I awake in the morning I feel the same way, as though the wind has been knocked out of me and my body is quite sore with cramping in places like my neck, colar bone, back, rib cage, fronts of shins and the sides of my thighs. I have to admit, the scariest things I have ever seen have taken place in my dreams alone, and after many years of watching reruns and going through the same horror, sometimes I wake up panicked and frightened and other times just annoyed and angry that I had to dream at all. The pain issue is by far the most annoying effect of it all.

I was reading that waking with numbness can be due to lack of circulation, more so in feet, toes, fingers and hands. I admit I have woken in some Olympic winning positions and one side of my body will be completely numb. I know though, and can feel, that I have been laying on that particular limb or side of my body for extended periods of time. But what is it that makes you feel like you’ve been hit by truck in your dream and feel the affects when you awake?

I have been researching the appropriate medical term for this. As far as I have come I have read that when you dream of physical pain/hurt in your dream and awake with the pain it is due to physical/muscle recall. For myself I have been hit twice by a Ford150, so I am experienced with the crushing pain one can experience from it. From this I would currently gather that falling from a cliff has triggered muscle memory and psychophysical recall causing me pain. But even with this explanation, it’s very limited and only answers 15% of my questions. Surely there must be a medical/formal term for this no? Unfortunately I do only have limited resources to me as I am not a doctor nor do I have a crystal ball unto my path. But if I find or come up with anything else, I’ll be sure to post.


Afraid to go to Bed

Many of us experience this after undergoing a series of nights where our night terrors are at their worst. The fear to go to bed is powerful and often overwhelming. It’s more than just a simple fear like a fear of missing your bus. It’s a fear that is scratching at your mind, like a scarab trying to itch, scrape and burrow beneath your skin. It increases anxiety, nervousness, heightens our senses and can even provoke the hallucinations when we’re just about to drift off.

The effect of night terrors can take away all want, yearning, relaxation, recharging, peace, quiet, and settling of sleep. Some of us go an hour on and an hour off to sleep at night in hopes of disrupting the sleep cycle and preventing the night terrors. When worst comes to worst, we will stop sleeping all together. Amazing how fear drives you, even away from the most basic of all needs it can destroy your bodily detection for want of it. When morning comes there is a sigh of relief, “Phew! I made is through one more night.” -which is quickly followed by, “And now I have to go through it all over again.” This is why if you have a loved one who suffers from night terrors to give them the support they need and literally make their lives less stressful. Sometimes the support comes in the format of releasing them and even encouraging them to go to bed when they say they need to, or when they need to leave the dinner party early, or when they need to bake cookies or work out at 12am. Chances are if they say it, they need it. They are the only ones who can feel their energy levels and the vibrations forewarning them about the night to come.

Don’t guilt, shame, minimize or amplify what your loved one is going through. It should be regarded with a level of normalcy, but above all should be regarded thoughtfully. I know for myself when I awake in the morning from a terrible night I don’t want to be talk to, asked about, treated like anything happened. I have always liked peace and quiet until I have settled and had something hot to drink. This can take anywhere from 25-45 min. If someone wants to tell me something about their plans for the day, how things are going for them, whatever, a few sentences never hurts as long as they understand I do not have the mental capacity to actually hear and respond to what it is they are saying. And I can’t stand being asked questions in the morning, especially the question, “How’d you sleep?” Because the answer is always the same, it’s always depressing for me to say it was not very good. I lie about that now, go figure. It keeps the peace and doesn’t provoke any questions for those people who feel the life or death need to know about your dreams. Nothing frustrates me more.

Anyways, back to the fact that you are afraid to go to bed. This is where I was referred by a dream specialist to leave the bed, and go to the kitchen and prepare myself something citrus. This is where I fell madly in love with grapefruits and oranges. Every night before I went to bed, I would prepare myself a citrus something. And sure enough, something about the citrus made me feel cleansed, light and refreshed. I would vouch a good 50% of the time this worked and I either had no night terror or simply a bad dream (which I could usually not remember).

Another thing that worked for me was getting some fresh air. Unfortunately this works best in the summer. I would sit on my deck for 10min some nights and an hour other nights. When I lived in this one apartment building I could see across from me and a few floors down that every night in the summer say around 1am, there was a man who would come out onto his deck and whittle. Except this was no ordinary piece of wood. He had pieces the size of a trunk on occasion. The city was so peaceful. I could hear the fog horns and the freighters, and sometimes I could even hear him humming away some tune while he worked. It brought be a sort of inner delight, quietness and contentment to breath in the still night and watch someone else who was at peace with their work. I did not have terrors those nights.

I have noticed that I can put a time frame on my best hours of sleep. For whatever reason I sleep the best between 4am and 9am, and 1:30pm and 4pm. I never have night terrors when I sleep during these times or nap. I’m not sure why but it seems to work. I did sleep like this for a while when I was working some very strange shifts (except the nap sometimes) and since it worked, I was plainly relieved I could manage things this way! But now I am not doing the same work and am constantly plagued by what tomorrow will bring.

If anyone else has any tips on how they manage their fear of going to bed, I would love to know. This is something that takes on a great many shapes and forms at night.


Sweet Dreams *woot* *woot*

Well I have some good news to report!- I had sweet dreams last night, even after a very stressfull day, you know with falling off that cliff and all that.

I fell asleep with my laptop facing me from my desk with my Scooby Doo Scariest Capers Video playing. I started with Hassle in the Castle, and was asleep by the time they found out it was Bluestone the Great who did it. This was around 2am, and I slept quite a mighty sleep until 12noon. I remembered my dreams when I awoke, but now at the present time, I can’t remember. I do know however that they were not scary or frightening, but rather quite nice. This is because I remember waking up with some good feelings. I was however woken by a wretched noise that once your awake does not seem wretched, but when your sensitive to atmosphere in your sleep it can be quite overpowering and put you on edge until you put together what is going on; which I should mention can be a good 20min later.

Truthfully I was expecting to have a horrible sleep last night as I followed through with all the faux-pas of having night terrors, but yet I was shocked! I had 2eggs and 2pieces of toast about two hours before bed, (so about 12midnight), I was extremely tired and physically exhausted, and had a very trying day. And yet, I slept marvelously!

I was thinking of starting  a support group for people who suffer from parasomnia. I’m unsure of how I would do this but it’s a thought in process.


Scooby Doo & the Art of Coping Part II

Coping is a survival tool that helps us to manage situations when we are faced with high stress, anxiety, physical exertion, illness, grief, fear and confusion. Coping means different things to people but one thing we can all agree on is it’s a step towards altering the mechanics of the situation. For some people coping means doing something and ‘barely getting by’, or to others it is managing the present. But by changing our view, emotions or cycle of problem solving we are a step closer to finding a productive way of solving and bringing closure to the issue.

To me, coping is an action both physical and mental that is carried out in the form of a goal oriented task or cognitive process that lessons the physical stress and relieves the psychological stress from the self enabling a state of conscious present, awareness to promote problem solving focusing on the significant details of the issue in order to bring closure as quickly as possible.

As fancy as that may sound, sometimes gorging on a cheesecake is a fine coping skill that suits me just well. =)

Other times it is more like a coping plan of action that includes elaborate things like grocery shopping, eating, clothes shopping, manicures, pedicures, grooming, girls night out, eating, taking naps and long walks, luxurious bubble baths, eating and bakery shopping. (yes, like clothes shopping, bakery shopping gets its own category because I love going to bakeries more than anything).

It’s very important that you find what coping method works best for you. Sometimes my night terrors are so bad I just want to spend the morning crying or curled up in my bed in fetal position gnawing on my blanket but I can’t because I have bills to pay and unfortunately VISA doesn’t let me pay in magical dream coins (which have yet to be invented 😉 ) so it’s a rough morning, and because I have to be cheery, friendly and helpful at work it turns into a rough day because of the amount of energy it takes to fulfill social standards. With this energy consumed and having to shelf my fear and anxiety it becomes suppressed and lays dormant, but only for so long. With these things happening it feels like your basic needs aren’t being met and it drives you bonkers!

My own coping methods that seem to work quite well are:

1) Scooby Doo & the old Pink Panther movies with Peter Sellers (they are low stress, low drama, funny and predictable)

2) Grooming (bubble baths, eyebrows waxed, manicures, pedicures, etc)

3) Good, wholesome food (I like Balkan yogurt with honey and pumpkin spice on top) or sometimes some baked goods like pie or cinnamon buns help. Other foods like a balanced meal.

4) Hot chocolate (I’m sure Carnation’s net worth is 20% thanks to me)

5) Reading (submerse myself in a good book!)

I have one golden rule for stress and coping: I refuse to think of or discuss anything stressful while fulfilling or meeting a basic need. Basic needs: food, warmth, shelter, love, sleep, grooming & cleanliness. This means if I am showering, cleaning my home, doing laundry, trying to get dry and warm after a cold rainy day, spending time with loved ones, eating, having something hot to drink, sleeping, or haven’t been home all day and need time to myself, I will not be dealing with issues during these times. I spend the rest of all 16hrs a day worrying. I see nothing wrong with taking 8hrs for my own mental health.


Scooby Doo & the Art of Coping Part I

Every night, 11:00pm, I bring the final steps of closure to my day while unwinding by watching an episode of Scooby Doo. The only Great Dane I have ever heard of who can dress up like a painter, ghost, pirate or when called upon, John Wayne, to cope with the stresses and demands of the world.

Tonight my favorite episode What a Night for a Knight was aired and I could not help but think how wonderful it would be if we could all be a bit more creative with our coping and stress management. At one point in the episode Scooby dresses up like a painter and begins to pretend to paint the knight, squirting red paint on the set up canvas and then in the knight’s face! To think the knight is trying to capture Scoob- and the Gang, and here he is so creative in his getaway. I suppose nothing grizzly or murderous or remotely treacherous ever happens in Scooby Doo except for a bump on the head and being dressed up like a tiki man, but I can’t help but feel there could be a lesson (obviously not psychology taught by Hannah Barbara) taught here. The lesson would be not to take stresses to heart. Even when managing what life has to throw at you, yes do what you have to do but do it with gusto or creative management.

I think one of the undervalued points and developing skills you should acquire while suffering from night terrors is coping. Often we settle on curing everything but as I have researched and read: Night Terrors can not be cured. They may be temporarily relieved but they will always return. As the subject gets older, he/she ‘s night terrors may subside or fade but there is no known cure. For me, as I know you have read many times, management is the key and a part of management is coping.