How To Stop Nightmares And Night Terrors

image of a nightmare scene in a bedroom

It happened again last night – another bad dream. This time, my brain had decided to combine people I know with the creatures from a horror series I recently watched, and have them chase me around my own mind.

As is usually the case, it took a moment to claw my way back to reality. Just as the intangible shadow creatures had tried with my body, the nightmare itself refused to let go of my mind until I could shake it free.

Eventually, I was able to take a deep breath, tell myself that it was just another bad dream, and get up to make a cup of tea before going back to sleep.

Sound familiar? Nightmares are no fun – neither to experience yourself nor to see someone you care about having.

Fortunately, I don’t get them as often as I used to when I was younger. But on average I remember having a bad dream at least a couple of times a month, even in my forties. So it’s a sleep problem I’ve been keen to explore, and even keener to find a solution to.

In this article, I’ll be taking a look at both nightmares and night terrors, and sharing some of the good advice I’ve come across. First tip: don’t watch ‘The Haunting Of Hill House’ late at night!

The difference between nightmares and night terrors

Nightmares and night terrors are similar in some respects, but with some key differences:


A nightmare is a dream which causes strong feelings of distress, fear, terror or anxiety. Classic examples include being chased or attacked, running but not getting anywhere, intruders in the home, flashbacks to traumatic experiences, or even just bad arguments with people you care about.

Many adults still get nightmares, even though psychologists believe that children and adolescents experience them more often.

They tend to occur during the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) phase of sleep, which is why they often happen later in the night.

People don’t usually move or make noises when having a nightmare. But when you wake up, you might remember it all too clearly, perhaps still feeling anxious or scared.

nightmare scene of a dark woods

Night terrors

A key difference with night terrors is that you don’t usually wake up during an episode or even remember it. You may have some recollection of feeling scared in the morning though.

So it’s often someone else, particularly a child’s parent, who has to deal with the unpleasantness of the experience.

Usually occurring in children between 3 and 12 years old, they might suddenly start screaming, moving around in bed erratically, rolling, kicking or lashing out.

They could even sit upright and look awake during the episode, but they won’t respond if you talk to them or touch them.

It can be very disturbing to witness someone expressing terror like this. Fortunately thoug, the child will usually settle down after a few minutes.

Night terrors typically occur during the transition from the deepest stage of non-REM sleep into REM sleep. This usually occurs a couple of hours after falling asleep.

How parents can help children with night terrors

If you think your child is in the middle of a night terror, here are some practical steps you could try:

  • Don’t try to wake the child up during an episode of night terrors. Just wait patiently with them until they settle down naturally.
  • If the child is thrashing about, make sure they don’t hit themselves or injure themselves.
  • Talk to them during the day to see if anything is particularly worrying or stressing them which you can then work on.
  • Make sure they have a consistent bedtime routine.
  • Make sure they get enough sleep and aren’t getting too tired.
  • You can also take the advice from the next section about nightmares.

How parents can help children having nightmares

You are unlikely to be able to completely stop your child from having nightmares. However, you can take some steps to help them relax and feel like going to sleep is good if they are worried about having bad dreams.

  • Ensure they have a regular bedtime and consistent bedtime routine.
  • Spend time with them before bed doing something that makes them feel happy, secure and cozy. For example, a bath, reading a book, snuggling or talking about the day.
  • Make sure their bed is comfy, cozy, warm (not hot), and peaceful. Having a favorite teddy bear or night light can help.
  • Don’t let them watch or read anything scary before bed, or play any games which can be scary or make them anxious.
  • Read one of many excellent children’s books written specifically to help kids with anxiety about monsters and the dark. Searching online will reveal many lists of great examples of these.

What you can do if a child wakes up scared from a nightmare

Unlike sleep terrors, children sometimes wake up from a nightmare and can understandably be worried about falling asleep again.

In fact, adults may also experience this after a particularly bad dream. You can try the following to help them settle back down:

  • Talk about what happened, tell them it’s a bad dream, but reassure them that it wasn’t real and isn’t going to happen in the real world. This only needs to be a brief conversation, but just some words of comfort can go a long way.
  • Let them know you are there, and that they are safe with you there.
  • Let them know it’s normal to have a bad dream and that everyone has them sometimes.
  • You can provide reassurance by checking everywhere in the room for monsters. Some say not to do this as is condones the worrying. My personal view is that it’s reassuring, as I remember my own dad doing it from time to time in a funny way. It made me giggle and relax, which is better than going to sleep feeling scared.
  • Switch on some ambient lighting or night light.
  • Make sure they have a favorite teddy bear, blanket or comforter.
  • The next day it might also help to talk to them about it again. You could bring it into the art world with some drawing to make it seem less scary, or perhaps even some role play to make the monster or whatever it might have been seem silly, fun and less threatening.

If your child is having nightmares or night terrors to the extent that it’s disturbing their daily life, mood, development or health, it’s important to discuss it with a medical professional.

They might refer you to a sleep specialist who will hopefully find a way to help your family further. This can be particularly useful if the child is having recurrent nightmares, or is having them as a result of a traumatic event.

How to cope with nightmares as an adult

Having nightmares as an adult is nothing to be ashamed of. I’ve had all kinds of bizarre and unpleasant nightmares over the years.

There are a few factors which might trigger nightmares, so you can start by having a think about whether these apply to you or not:

  • Drinking alcohol, especially late in the evening.
  • Too much caffeine, again late in the day might be worse.
  • Taking recreational drugs.
  • Smoking cigarettes before bed.
  • Doing heavy exercise shortly before bed.
  • Watching or playing a violent or scary film or computer game in the evening (I’m guilty of this one!).
  • Eating late at night. Even small bedtime snacks can trigger nightmares.
  • An illness that induces a fever.
  • Breathing disorders in sleep, such as apnea. If you have any breathing problems when you sleep, it’s essential you consult a doctor about it.
the ring horror film
Don’t watch horror films late at night!

In addition to the above ideas, here are some other points you might like to consider which could help:

  • Some medications can cause nightmares. You can check the known side effects online or ask for your doctor’s advice.
  • Stress, anxiety, and worry can cause sleep disruption. It might help to address this in your life, or even do simple relaxation exercises in bed.
  • Major life events can be stressful. Moving house, relationship, money or work issues, and traumatic experiences can all trigger nightmares. Talk to family or friends, or seek professional help if you’re finding something in your life overwhelming.
  • As with kids, having a stable sleep schedule can be helpful.
  • Try to do some exercise every day, even if it’s just a walk.
  • Keep the bedroom relatively cool if possible. Feeling too hot (or too cold) in bed can disrupt sleep.
  • Keep a dream and nightmare diary. Recording what you experience can sometimes help to make it seem less out of control.
  • Do some positive thinking or visualization while you lie in bed. Some people believe you can influence your dreams purely by telling yourself what you want to dream about.

Specialist help

If you feel like you’ve already tried all the self-help techniques and lifestyle changes under the moon, to no avail, here are a few more suggestions to consider.

Ask for a referral to a sleep specialist or sleep center

If your nightmares are interfering with your daily life and functioning, it might be time for specialist help. Your doctor can refer you to a sleep specialist if they think it’s necessary and possible.

Your doctor could also recommend taking medication, especially if there’s the possibility that a form of trauma is playing a role in your sleep problems. Talking therapy, such as imagery rehearsal therapy, might also be an avenue they suggest.

Imagery rehearsal therapy

Imagery rehearsal therapy has shown promise as a treatment for nightmares, especially for those who experience recurring nightmares with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

It involves working with a therapist to try to change your dreams by visualizing them happening differently while you’re awake.

It’s also thought that it can help people who just have recurring bad dreams, even without the PTSD element. Although it’s better to do this with a therapist, it can also be tried alone.

There are three basic steps to trying imagery rehearsal therapy yourself:

  • Write down a summary of the recurring dream, or the most recent nightmare you’ve had.
  • Think of a way the nightmare can be changed to be less frightening. You should use your intuition to work out how to do this.
  • Spend a few minutes every day visualizing your improved version of the nightmare.

Clearly, seeking professional advice is going to be helpful, as a therapeutic technique is rarely explained effectively in three bullet points!

Lucid Dreaming and embracing your nightmares

There have been some studies suggesting that lucid dreaming treatment (LDT) can be an effective way to stop nightmares.

The idea is that you train yourself to become aware that you’re in the middle of a dream or nightmare, and then either alter it or wake yourself up.

If that idea interests you, then even further than that is the idea of actually embracing you nightmares through lucid dreaming and using them as a tool for spiritual and/or psychological growth.

The following video, which was originally on a TEDtalk, explains this idea in an entertaining and fascinating way:

It’s not all bad!

Nightmares and creativity

It might not provide much comfort to nightmare sufferers, but there’s an interesting theory which suggests a positive side to nightmares – more creativity.

woman having a nightmare

Researchers at the Hôpital du Sacré-Coeur de Montréal conducted a study of 28 people, comparing those who had regular nightmares with those who said they didn’t.

The team gave the participant a form of word association test before and after sleep. And they concluded that the nightmare sufferers displayed characteristics associated with creativity:

Nightmare sufferers may access broader than normal emotional semantic networks in the wake state, a difference that may lead to this group being perceived as more creative.

However, it’s not clear if nightmares really improve creativity, or if creative and emotionally sensitive people are more prone to nightmares.

Either way, it might provide some solace to know that your nightmares could be a sign that you have a creative mind!

Nightmares and fear rehearsal

Why do we even have to have nightmares in the first place?

Why hasn’t our brain evolved to stick to dreams about holidays on a deserted beach with self-refilling cocktails? Is adding giant flesh-eating mosquitoes really necessary?

Well, perhaps there’s a useful side to unpleasant dreams, as a team of Swiss and American researchers found in 2019.

They studied the brain activity of people while they were experiencing bad dreams. And they found that when the participants woke after having them, the areas of the brain responsible for controlling emotions when faced by situations that provoke fear were more effective.

In science daily, one of the study authors explained:

Dreams may be considered as a real training for our future reactions and may potentially prepare us to face real life dangers

This is in line with the classic theory about why we dream in general – that dreams are like a mental sandbox in which we can practice for real life. One caveat in the study was that bad dreams might be useful for this purpose, but more intense nightmares can be counterproductive.

Still, it’s almost reassuring to know my brain isn’t just torturing me at night, but trying its best to prepare me for future problems.

If only I could tell it I’m quite happy with my current level of preparation and don’t need any more practice!

Your views

What kind of nightmares do you or your child have? What do you find makes them more or less frequent? Please feel free to share your experiences in the comments below.


  1. I have been having nightmares most nights between 4:30 and 5:30ish. I don’t remember always having this type of nightmare other times in my life. I’m not in the nightmare, it’s like I’m an observer, or as almost as I’m writing it. They start out calm or even a nice situation and then turn into people being chased, sexually abused, hurt, or murdered. I feel awake yet can’t usually stop them even though I’m aware of them. I will turn on my light sometimes and read something boring maybe for an hour. Then when I feel sleepy I curl up and go back to bed. But they don’t stop and sometimes go on for hours. (Since I feel as if I’m writing them, I can’t figure out why I can’t stop them,) I take melatonin at the moment (a time-release one that should help me sleep longer). I have tried not taking melatonin and I still get the nightmares. I don’t have lingering upset effects in the morning. Just frustrated that I can’t figure out how to stop them. I don’t feel stressed about anything and I’m a happy and positive person (not just my assessment, but from others. I hardly watch news, or any violent, etc, TV. Hallmark movies are about my speed.

    From your other comments, I feel I’m doing at least 2 things wrong that cause these. I do have a snack about 10:00 p.m. and mostly something like a cookie or always something with sugar. I stay up too many nights reading–sometimes 1:00, 2:00 p.m. And I like to get up about 7:30 or 8:00. I know from everything I’ve ever read you should keep a regular bedtime schedule. And as you can see I’m not good at that.
    I value your insights. Thank you.

  2. I know of a solution to this problem, I have had several patients with these night frights and we came up with a solution that so far has worked for every one of my patients. Even for of the ones who explained that she had the frights every single night and had therefore decided to not sleep at night anymore (she was trying to sleep during the days instead). What we came up with is to play during the sleeping period a nature sound App (or a CD with nature sounds). There are several free apps which you could find by typing into the App Store search bar “nature sounds”.
    I am not linked to these Apps nor am I rewarded by them in any way for mentioning them here; if I may (otherwise please redact my comment) I will mention the one App which has come out favourite among my patients for the simple fact that it allows each user to create their own nature sound track by editing specific nature sound templates like ‘ocean’ or ‘forest’ or ‘lake’, then adding or removing individual features like bird song, waves, rain, wind etc. and to amend the loudness of each of those individual sounds, to create a soundtrack that specifically suits each person best: this app is called Nature Sounds and it is free but seems to have advertising. I have used the same app with my younger daughter who had trouble sleeping at night.
    Will those who have previously put comments on this page automatically see this comment? I would hate for people to go through this draining and frightening experience and not learn of this easy ‘fix’.
    I want to also thank the owner of this page for putting it up as a resource, those patients who have spoken to me about their night frights have done so assuming they were the only people to whom this happened and there was something wrong with them. I direct them to your page so they can read about the many others who have left comments with experiences like their own. I’m happy to answer questions about this do let me know if any queries.

    • Hi Anya
      Thanks for your comment and suggestion. I’m happy to leave the comment up with the suggestion as there is no direct paid link in it. To answer your question, no, not everyone will see this comment unless they come back to check what’s new. But everyone else in future who works their way through the mountain of comments will find it.

  3. My husband and I have been married for 30 yrs. For the first 28 yrs he rarely snored or moved in bed. Two yrs ago he started falling out of bed. His body also began to develop severe body cramps…. a few months later falling a lot…daily migraines….hand numbness and after lots of tests he’s been diagnosed with neuropathy without a known reason. He is not diabetic, drinks NO alcohol, only takes prescription medication that has been changed multiple times…and otherwise, in pretty good health. The night terrors have progressed to the point they became dangerous with swinging…growling…even shaking me in bed. We now sleep in separate rooms and he has a hospital bed to help keep him from falling out…but it doesn’t work. He actually goes over the rails…often head first and slams his head on the floor … therefore, making the migraines worse. He’s been to a sleep clinic and diagnosed with sleep apnea but the mask works its way into his nightmares (like a octopus or monster on his face) and he rips it off. Our son has moved in to help us but this can’t be forever. I am scared for my husband and he’s scared too! We raised 5 sons and I can honestly say… I can count on one hand how many times I’ve heard him raise his voice. He was always a calm and gentle husband and father. He is talking with a therapist but nothing has stopped the terrors which come several times a week. In the beginning he didn’t remember them…but if he falls out of bed waking up he can remember… and it always involves someone trying to hurt and attack him….people or creatures…it’s always him defending himself. I am worried for him. I know he can’t be alone with this suffering and need to know what doctors do to treat a case as severe as this one! PLEASE…any thoughts are appreciated. Thank you for your time!

    • Hi Karen
      Thanks for your comment, and I’m sorry to hear what you’re going through – both you and your partner. When he went to the sleep clinic, did they mention anything about other possible sleep disorders? Does he act out those violent dreams at all, such as flailing his arms or legs in bed when he’s asleep? If it was a while ago, I would recommend getting another opinion about the sleep problems and his health in general.

    • Is he on any new supplements like B6 or zinc which may stimulate detox ?

      Has he been exposed to any heavy metals ? Has he had dental work with 6 months of the sleep issues ? Decaying or amalgams ?

      Any chance of exposure to mold or other industrial toxins ?

      God bless. I hope you find your answers.

  4. Hey, one of my very close friends is always being tortured in her dreams and she sometimes wakes up and other times she doesn’t. She already sees a doctor for it and they have her on medicine but it stopped working after a few days. I’m worried about her and I don’t know what to do.

    • Hi Fayth
      Thanks for your comment. There probably isn’t much you can do yourself, and it sounds like she is getting help. Perhaps talking to her and asking her if she is stressed or anxious, and offering to talk through any issues with her that she might feel better about getting off her chest. Sometimes issues like stress and anxiety can disrupt sleep. So as a friend, offering support, or even just doing fun and relaxing things together, might do a little to help.

  5. My husband says at times I hit him or try scratching him. Or I talk or yell out in my sleep. This worries me, I don’t want to hurt him! What do I do??

    • Hi Amber
      Thanks for your comment. Have you ever heard of something called REM sleep behavior disorder? It’s not for me to diagnose based on your very short comment, but it might be something that makes sense for you to explore.

  6. Hi. Yesterday night i was sleeping well and when i opened my eyes i saw a bright green lizard ( very big) jumping from my father bed towards me. So i woke up and screamed. Thats all i remember. Next day when i asked my mother she told me that i was shouting like “NO PLEASE DONT TOUCH ME”. When my mom tried to console me i was repeating these words to them. I felt awkward. Last year i was in hostel and again when i was sleeping, i opened my eyes to a scorpion on my blanket ( on the stomach side). I screamed and my friends assured me that there was nothing on the blanket. It happens like once in 6 months. I always read ghost stories on website ( all the time like even before going to sleep. I always prefer watching scary and thriller movies. Does this have anything to do with it? On the day of the first incident i had an exam and was stressed that it dint go well. Whats happening to me? Should i consult a doctor for this problem

    • Hi Dhvya
      Thanks for sharing your experience. It sounds to me like you’ve already partly provided an answer. I would recommend not watching scary movies and reading scary stories, at least not in the few hours before bed. See if that helps, and if not, talk to your doctor about it.

      • I have always suffered from nightmares at different times in my life and they come and go. So a little background info I am a single parent of 2 and the only adult living in my house. So when I have these nightmares and wake up I am very scared because I am by myself in the sense I am the only adult around.

        I don’t watch horrors or anything that I know will be scary because I live by myself as I know they psychologically affect me. If I watch a horror I am definitely not able to sleep or I have a nightmare. I have only ever watched horrors with ex-partners or my parents… The last horror I watched was around Halloween time and I woke up scared with my ex-partner… I can’t remember the dream but my ex said I was really frightened shouting no. Tbh I have always suffered from nightmares when I was a child to the extent I would make noises in my sleep like a moaning noise and suffer scratches on my arms. Which as a young child use to creep me out as I didn’t know what happened whilst I was sleeping apparently according to my siblings I walked out of bed and hurt myself and cried in my sleep. I would go on trips with groups of girls and they would laugh about me just jumping up in my sleep and I had no memory of it. I also had one occurring nightmare I can still remember to this day in childhood. So a lot of movement and vocal noises in my sleep from a young child. Growing up my parents did watch a lot of horrors although I can’t recall watching any and I don’t watch any until this day. When my parents recommend something for the TV I always ask is it scary. I just can’t watch them. So I am confused as to why I am getting nightmares at this stage in my life. Some seem realistic and some are like cheaply made up horror movies but still feel real and scary to the point i am woken up and I am too scared to go back to sleep.

        So the other night i dreamt that someone was strangling me and I couldn’t breathe and it felt very real. It felt like someone had their hands around my neck. It was like a black figure was strangling me.

        Then I had one last night that my kids where at my parents house and being taken to a dark room to play a game with some type of evil spirit and some other people. Like a video was being shown to us and I was trying to stop them from going by giving them a snack and they still didn’t listen so I went to get help by going out of the house in real life my auntie lives across the road from my parents. So once outside I was locked out of the house and I couldn’t get back in. I began to panic and go to my aunties house where I find her by herself and lying face into the sofa asleep with the TV on but she has grey hair? My auntie dyes her hair blonde and rose pink so I was surprised to see her looking like this and I woke up around 5am in the morning and now i can’t sleep. I have had dreams a lot that my kids are being taken from me. They are the worse dreams for me as they are my children. I can’t remember past nightmares but I would say I have bouts of nightmares for weeks or months then none at all then they come back. They disrupt my sleep and I can’t sleep properly I’ve had hours sleep now because of the latest nightmare. If nature sounds do work I will try this as I am desperate.

  7. Looking to help someone, I would like to know how I can help my boyfriend, dreams of people attacking him fighting people, kicks punches, sits up in bed yelling screams thinks there is people in the room while sleeping among other stuff in some cases he has grabbed punched and tryed to break my wrist I wake him up in panic which he has no idea most of the times of what he’s doing and remembers nothing, he used to take many different sleeping pills and other medications to help which made things worse as he would throw him self against the walls behind the bed he is now off of the meds but ever so often he screams out of no where and all of this is scaring me as I had to move him away, and yell at him so he can wake up,, what should I do and more importantly what can he do?

    • Hi Ali
      Thanks for your comment. That must be very distressing for both of you to cope with. Is it possible for you to sleep in separate beds until you find a way to stop it happening? Many couples sleep in separate beds (my partner and I included) and it’s nothing bad or wrong to do.
      Have you heard of a sleep disorder called REM sleep behavior disorder? I’d look into that, but also speak with his doctor to get some advice.

  8. I have had recurring nightmares and sleep paralysis as well. Night terrors too.
    I often wonder if some episodes were premonitions? I would like to know if premonition is a psyco-emotional state of mind or is it only in waking hours that a person can get premonitions?Are intuition and premonition linked? I mean psychological links not psychic links.
    I wonder if I should speak to a psychiatrist about my dreams. Or will I be laughed at?
    I am deeply interested in psychology because I have had reality mirroring dreams and nightmares- – not the other way round?
    I don’t think I am a psychic but I certainly feel that I don’t have a good grip on reality.
    Your advice and advice of others are welcome.

    • Hi Devika
      Thanks for your comment. I’m not sure I can really answer your questions about premonitions, as it’s not something I particularly believe in. But I don’t think many psychologist dedicate much time to investigating intuition and premonition, though some parapsychologists probably do. As for speaking to a psychiatrist, I doubt they would laugh at you, but they might want to explore your general mental health depending on how coherent they think you are, and how fixated on these themes. If you don’t feel that you have a good grip on reality, and would like some advice and support, then perhaps it would be helpful for you to speak to a medical professional.

  9. My fiance is the most lovable man. His night terrors wake me 1,2 or 3 times EVERY night for a whole month 1 night i may get relief. He’s so sorry cause I work 7 days a week. He screams kicks cry laugh move his arm fight the covers sit up curse andmoans like a bear wolf or demon. and once he sleep walked. What do we do!!!???I
    Jump out of my sleep(headache eye bags red eyes) i wake him up but he goes RIGHT back into nightterrors ????☹????should we still marry signed im in Love with a mad man??help me please!!!!!everynight??

    • Hi Irene
      Thanks for your comment, and sorry to hear you’re both dealing with what sounds like a stressful sleep problem. Has he spoken to a medical professional about it? I think it would be a good idea to get him checked out to see if there’s anything they can do to help.

  10. I have nightmares frequently. When I do, I wake up tired and scared. The effect of fear and uneasiness usually last several hours after I wake up.
    A couple of nights ago, I had the worst nightmare I’ve ever had. The effect after took several days to dissipate.
    I went to bed at around 1am, and woke up terrified around 2:40am. I was sore and I felt my teeth were going to fall out of my mouth: they felt lose. Several days later I am still sore from that night. My shoulders and back are tense, my joints in my arms and hands hurt and my jaw and teeth are very sensitive.
    It was one of those nightmares where you think you wake up in your room, just to realize you cannot move and are paralyzed. At the same time, the dream state takes over, and suddenly there is someone uninvited in your room. I woke up three times from this terrible dream. Thinking I was awake, just to realize that I was still paralyzed with a huge invisible weight over my body. Just to reslize that the person in the room was still there with no good intentions, that my tongue was cut out and my gut was gashed among other terrible occurrences.
    Naturally, when I woke up to the real world, I thought I was still sleeping because my body was in pain from the effort. I also noticed that I took a deep and desperate breath when I woke up.
    I’m worried that I may not be breathing at times… I don’t like to think I’m not, but it just seems like it because I wake up exhausted and sore.

  11. Good Day,
    My 5 year old daughter only ever has disturbed sleep after a fun exciting day. I assume they are night terrors because (based on your article) they’ll start around 10- and when I try wake her up (I won’t do it again) she talks to me and responds to me with her eyes open- but I can see it’s an auto response and that she is still sleeping. Within seconds of lying back down she thrashes about and moans like I haven’t just “woken” her up. I just wonder why it’s after a fun day. Always. We had a party today. She had great fun but because I know she has nightmares, I try to make sure we slip straight back into routine when we get home to bring a sense of normality back to her- but she is still in the room now having a night terror.

    • Hi Terri
      Thanks for your comment. Have you tried spending extra time in the afternoon/evening following a particularly fun and exciting day doing things which are very calming and relaxing? Perhaps taking more time to unwind, and bring her energy levels back down would help. Perhaps even doing something like drawing the fun day, talking it over calmly or activities you can think of that help her close the day and go to bed feeling calm.

    • Hi Vic
      I think the best thing in that case is to try to relax, accept that nightmares are quite normal – even though they are scary – and try to go back to sleep. If you can’t, then get up and do something familiar, comforting and relaxing for 10 mins, then go back to sleep.

  12. Hi,
    Thank you for this article as it gave me some insight. I have a history of sleep talking and night terrors, where I sit up wirh my eyes open and can see my room as it is, but I’m not fully awake and screaming. My husband has gotten used to this and waits till I’m completely awake to tell me what he saw. I remember having them usually, but not always. However, lasr night I sat up a creaming (don’t remember that) & I ran out of room because I thought someone was chasing me. I have only done this onew before but it was only to turn light on. This time I ran clear outside of room. I scared the kids and my husband… do you have any tips on how I can stop this? (I’m 42)

    • Hi Taline
      Thanks for your comment. There’s not much more I can add other than what’s in the article already! My advice would be to read and try to put into action those ideas first, if you haven’t already. If that doesn’t help, perhaps talk to your doctor about it.

  13. My father is 66 and for about the past year now he has been having nightmares. I can hear him yelling and screaming from across the house or sometimes he’s kicking and punching someone in his dream. The other night he smacked his head really hard against the wooden bed frame. He doesn’t take any medications and he is semi retired working for himself. What might be causing these nightmares?

    • Hi Stephanie
      Thanks for your comment. It’s hard to say why they might have suddenly started now – there are all kinds of things that can trigger nightmares and affect their frequency or intensity. If you and he are worried about his health and the risk of injury, it’s something to talk through with a doctor. He can try the self-help ideas too, but it’s a good idea to talk it through with a professional too.

  14. Hi my 16 years old daughter will get fear by seeing the dream in night and sometimes at day her dream she want be able to see any thing it wll be fully dark..bcz of this she will get scared and will get sweat the will feel like drinkung water..she wll be totally blank for 3 to 4 mins..after 3 to 4 minutes she wll be worried y this wll happen for her continuesly ..plz help me for this solution…kindly relply me in my id

    • Hi Maya
      Thanks for your comment. You could try the techniques in the article, and get her to read it too. Perhaps you’ll be able to work together to ensure she has a more peaceful sleep. And if nothing else, be able to relax after a nightmare and fall asleep again afterwards. But if it continues to be a very stressful problem for her, the best thing is to speak to her doctor if self-help doesn’t make a difference.

  15. Hi Ethan, my husband is 52 years old and suffers from pretty severe night terrors – at least we think they are. He wakes almost nightly thinking there are snakes or some other scary creature (spiders, rats, etc., have all made appearances) and he flails about trying to get away, or get the creature out of the bed, etc.

    Most definitions of night terrors say the person rarely recalls the incidents, but he does always remember these in the morning. Sometimes there are 3 a night, sometimes he goes a week or two with none. He doesn’t not have a high stress life or suffer from PTSD, and his medical doctor didn’t take any of it seriously whatsoever.

    I’ve tried to get him to meditate but it’s not sticking, and I’m at a loss as to where and how to get help. These episodes have only ramped up in the past few years. Is there a possibility it’s caused be medication? Any words of advice would be most welcome – thank you!

    • Hi Margot
      Thanks for your comment. Did you leave a similar comment on the article about hallucinations? I have a feeling it’s more likely to be that rather than sleep terrors.
      Do you have an idea if he seems to be having a nightmare before waking up and doing this, or does he wake up peacefully and then it starts?
      It could definitely be medication, so if he is taking some, it’s worth looking it up to see if a listed side effect is sleep disturbance or hallucinations.

      • Hi Ethan, yes that was me – I found that link afterwards and was definitely feeling the connection with those descriptions. No, I don’t believe it’s nightmares. He doesn’t wake up peacefully and then start the hallucination, he wakes up “in it” and proceeds to try to deal with the situation (searching for the critter or trying to get away from it) all while “awake” with eyes open, lights on. It just takes time to fully believe there isn’t anything there. He brought up to his doctor the blood pressure medication he’s on and it was completely brushed aside. It’s a frustrating nightly scene in our house. : (

        • Hi Margot
          Thanks for your comment. It seems more likely to be sleep hallucinations to me, something that commonly happens when transitioning in and out of wakefulness from sleep. Perhaps looking more closely into sleep hallucinations will help you find something that reduces the impact on you both? And if you’re not happy with the doctor’s response, there’s no harm in seeking a second opinion.

    • Hi Margot,
      I am a 52 year old man with seemingly the same symptomology as your husband. It’s usually a creature or ‘thing’ doing bodily harm to me, or my bed is a collapsing bridge or platform, or an electric bed of pain, but almost always I remember directly upon waking.
      I’m sitting here now at 4am typing this because I jumped out of bed terrified, ran down the steps of my bedroom, across my living room and up the steps of my kitchen. Confused, absolutely terrified that my life was about to end horrifically somehow. My adult daughter and wife came up after me, also terrified about my well being.
      I have had sleep studies, wear a CPAP when I can tolerate it, but don’t have any answers. This has been going on for a few years, getting increasingly worse. Please tell me that your husband has made some sort of break through; that you both have figured something out.
      I don’t take any medications other than aspirin or ibuprofen; have a few drinks nightly (which I would gladly give up if I thought it would help), and do not have a high stress job.
      Any ideas you have found would be great. Peace to you and your husband…
      Dennis in State College

  16. I’m 20 and I have wakeful dreams, sometimes nightmares or sometimes just very vivid but normal dreams. I usually wake up after 3-5 hours, then every 30-90 minutes there after. These were triggered due to some events last year in April, anxiety related, but since then I just haven’t recovered. Im less anxious now, but throughout the day I have moments of slight anxiety, not actually anxiety attacks however, and its triggered by little things always, and I’m also slightly hypochondriac. I don’t know if it is mostly mental and will it heal with time or do I need to accelerate my body and mind out of this state of anxiety? What do you recommend?

    • Hi Jason
      Thanks for your comment. I think that anxiety is sometimes underestimated by people – it can cause a lot of discomfort and disruption to normal life and feelings. So I think it’s good to tackle it actively if you’re suffering from it to this extent. I would recommend speaking to a professional therapist or counselor if you can. And if you can’t, or prefer self-help, I highly recommend something called mindfulness. You can get books teaching you how in shops, find many websites online or even go to classes to learn it. As a brief introduction, you might like my article teaching mindfulness exercises for sleep.

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