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Adult Night Terrors/Sleep Walking
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Adult Night Terrors/Sleep Walking

I am a 43 yr old female.  Healthy - no meds.  I have suffered from night terrors/sleep walking since I was a toddler.  I usually scream bloody murder at least 3 - 4 nights a week.  I frequently run or walk through the house in a threatened state, and I usually do it two or three times each night.  When I wake, I remember very little if any. (My kids think it is hillarious)
It runs in definite cycles.  The more stressed or tired I am the frequency increases and the more the frequency increases the more tired and stressed I get.  It usually occurs within the first four hours of sleep. I never have any problem falling asleep.  Also, I have a fan run constantly to drowned out background noices because bells, whistles, or any distinct noices easily triggers a reaction.
Are there any treatments for this kind of disorder?
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242516_tn?1368227505
Helpful tips:
Following a regular sleep schedule to prevent sleep deprivation
Treating other sleep disorders
Reducing noise or light in the sleep environment
Avoiding certain medications and alcohol
Avoiding stress
Avoiding fever

Anticipatory awakenings can help, where you're awakened 15 minutes before you usually sleepwalk for up to a month.

Hypnosis also helps.

Medications can help if these don't.  Medications include antidepressants or benzodiazepines.

Dr. Enoch Choi, MD
Palo Alto, CA
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Avatar_n_tn
I am a 38 year old female with increasing episodes of sleep walking and activity.  I have been happier lately than I have been in along time but the  activity has increased as well. I woke up in my front yard the other day. I stepped into water and it woke me up.  I went back to my bed room to find that I had emptied all of the clothes out of my closet and dresser onto the floor of my room. I saw a psychologist when this started 2 years ago and had several sessions and they said that it was stress. I have no abnormal triggers or demons. I went on Anti-depressents for 6 months but it seemed to have no effect so they took me off of them.  I am concerned about my safety. What should I do? Is this normal?  I am exercising 3 times a week, I have tried to have a better diet, and have even given up caffeine and sodas but it hasn't made a difference. Sometimes I wake up screaming at the top of my lungs.  I just don't know what to do from here.
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Avatar_m_tn
Hi loehrlair, Hope you might be doing better now? There might be many reasons to have these night terrors like you might have witnessed a terror event which you keep recollecting, a very hard and havoc day with household chores/at work, going to bed late night, excessive caffeine or staying away from family and so on. Stress, either physical or mental does trigger them frequently. You are right by noting that sleep walking can be dangerous if associated with night terrors, as you may not be aware of the surroundings and can easily injure yourself. Try to relax and do morning-evening walk, stretches, have nutritious diet with lot of water or other liquids, have hot shower and listen to soft music before going to bed, these can be soothing to mind and body so it may be of some help. Mild dose of Alprax also can be tried. If nothing works, do consult a Neurophysician and a sleep specialist for a check up. Keep updating of doctor advises.  Take care
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Avatar_f_tn
HI there, Ive been having this problem since i was very young. I would say early teens. Im twenty now and Im finally doing something about it. I have problems with sleep walking where I know im walking around the house but im looking for something or im afraid of something yet i dnt no wat. Ill wake up and be completely anoyed as ill be in the kitchen telling myself ive been asleep and im overreacting. I can deal with this to a certain degree, i just go back to bed. however i have another issue thats more terrifying. Sometimes, at least once a week I will wake up to a stranger in my room watching me sleep or even on my bed. i can see them in every detail. It seems so real its terrifying but then there gone just like that. I never see the same person twice and each person is unique. They could be an old lady a man a woman. Ive never seen any of them in my life so its not like i can link it to my every day life in some way. Im sick of it and i need to know what my problem is if anyone can help me.
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A terrifying vision while you wake up happens to many. Swampy has it too, but only when he is under a large amount of stress. His technique is to learn at waking that if something strange is going on to just relax and let the vision pass. It does, and sometimes Swampy's body goes through one big shudder or twitch as the vision clears. Then all is well. It happens maybe once a year.

Swampy suggests that if you have the symptom often that you seek out a doctor who is used to treating narcolepsy, as this is one common symptom. Even if you are not narcoleptic, the doctor could probably advise a useful treatment.
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Avatar_n_tn
I know night terrors and sleepwalking are specific sleep disorders that can occur independent of any other sleep disorders, but I'd like to highlight something Dr. Choi said when this thread began quite some time ago, "treating other sleep disorders".  

My father acted out his bad dreams, but back then there wasn't much attention to sleep disorders. He was a danger to himself and others. I now know that he also had sleep apnea - we used to joke about the only time we got a break from his snoring was when he wasn't breathing. Who knows how much treatment would have changed his life? By the way, he didn't fit the stereotype for sleep apnea - he was not obese and was very active.

I've had symptoms that seemed to be textbook narcolepsy, including cataplexy. I was also having scary dreams at night - dreams where someone or something was always suffocating and dying, or someone was in my bedroom with their arm across my chest putting so much pressure I couldn't breathe... on and on.

I knew my sleep was broken from limb movements, but finally after multiple sleep studies I was diagnosed with severe obstructive sleep apnea. Once my limb movements were effectively treated and I fully utilized my prescribed cpap treatment, my brain seemed to progressively unscramble. I have not had the bad dreams or episodes of loss of muscle control for a few years.

A friend of mine used to see giant spiders on the wall when she woke up. She had sleep apnea and her oxygen dropped into the 60s. Her sleep doc said her hallucinations were from oxygen deprivation to the brain.

It seems to me that when one sleep disorder is evident, evaluation for other disorders could prove beneficial for some - not all, but some like me.

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Avatar_f_tn
hey, thank you for your advice and i have also found out thru this sight the same information. Im so relieved to hear storys from people of experiencing the same thing. I thought i was crazy but aparently its quite common. Im making an appointment at the doctors as i belive i have depression or even bipolar dissorder and think maybe they might be related to the night problems. Thank you and i will keep you posted.
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Avatar_m_tn
Hi loehrlair, how are you? Hope you might be feeling better now? Have you been to sleep specialist to get a sleep study done? Usually sleep terrors does not continue for a long time unless associated with other illness. You need to modify your sleep cycle and bring in some change in daily living activities. Try to relax and do morning-evening walk, yoga, meditation, stretches, have hot shower and listen to soft music before going to bed, these can be soothing to mind and body so it may be of some help. Mild dose of Alprzolam can be tried. If nothing works, do consult a Neurophysician and a sleep specialist for a check up. Take care.
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Avatar_n_tn
My husband is 22 and has night terrors at least once a month.  It happens normally about 30 minutes after he has gone to bed.  He quickly jump out of bed and run straight out the door.  once he runs into something he will immediatly begin punching it and cussing.  He will then run the opposite direction until he hits something else and the cycle repeats itself.  There is no way to get him to snap into reality!  I've tried yelling, knocking him down lol,  and even tried the calm approach of not talking to him and gently directing him back to bed.  Nothing seems to help.  He normally comes back to reality after about 5 minutes of craziness!  He is a normal non-violent guy who never cusses. Oh by the way he never remembers what happened once he gets back to reality.  He always feels very upset after wards and says it is the worst feeling ever.
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Avatar_n_tn
I scream, moan, yell and thrash in my sleep, after drinking alcohol.    It is in my sleep and I do not wake up nor do I recall it.    Roommates have long labeled night terrors.     It never happens any other time and did not used to happen at all, even after drinking.

Why would alchohol cause this,   is there a way to treat this short of asbstinence?    I am about to go on a trip to Europe and  we plan on staying in hostels.   It will certainly involve alcohol some nights and I do not want to scare the hell out of others or embarass myself.

Thoughts????????????????????
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Avatar_m_tn
I am a married healthy 47 year old male, not taking any medications and have successfully been employed in the same field for 30 years as a business executive. I experienced “night terrors” on a monthly basis from the age of 8 until the age of 12. After the age of 12, my episodes decreased in frequency to a point now where they only sometimes happen when I find myself an hour or so into sleep in a new or unfamiliar bed such as a hotel or as a guest in someone’s home. Needless to say I have sometimes awoke the next morning going to the breakfast table and finding either a person or group of people asking me “What was that all about last night?” For over 40 years I have sought both professional and amateur advice and guidance, to include physical, psychological and chemical recommendations that might reduce or eliminate the causes of these episodes. Thus far, 100% of all suggestions remind me of the old joke “Doc, it hurts when I raise my arm like this”-------“Well, don’t raise your arm like that” All suggestions thus far have been to attempt to reduce or eliminate anything that may disrupt your sleep or your sleep cycle. This is impossible to fully achieve. There will always be some little thing going on in your life that can trigger an event. I have come to accept that this is part of who I am and there is nothing currently available that I can take or do so that I can confidently go to sleep knowing that I will not experience an episode. All I can do is tell those around me that may witness this, that rarely I sometimes have a “nightmare” where I scream for a couple of minutes and maybe fall out of bed and that if you were to try to wake me, I wouldn’t respond to you anyway. I let them know that if it were to happen that I don’t mean to frighten them and ask them to not try to wake me and to just let it pass. Since I have been doing that, no one has ever asked me to stay somewhere else when visiting nor has anyone ever put me down or insulted me about it. They normally brush it off the next morning with a little joking and they always thank me for letting them know ahead of time what was happening so they wouldn’t be so scared having to listen to it. Having been married to the same loving, understanding woman for 25 years and trying to explain to her what I am experiencing when this happens, I have come to realize that its not that there is anything happening in my dreams at the time that would justify feeling fear that intense. I have had episodes where I clearly remember that I wasn’t dreaming anything in particular, only that I was frozen with fear and felt that I was so scared that I could barely get a scream out. When I tried to explain to my wife that I could not come up with any experience possible in life that would warrant feeling fear that intense, I realized that there must be some chemical process taking place in my brain at the time that is pouring out whatever chemical is responsible for paralyzing fear so intense it borders on entering into a state of shock. I would imagine it would resemble what a deer or gazelle would feel when attacked and killed by a large predator. I only have the feelings of fear, not the dream of what would cause it. When it is happening, there is no absolutely no doubt in your mind that you are dying and you will die soon and nothing can be done to stop it. Waking from this experience there is no way you can explain to those around you, who are looking at you with fear and wonder, how it feels. Its not good when they are touching you trying to wake you because you are in a fight or flight mode at the time and you may fight back in response. How do you explain absolute, paralyzing, total fear to someone who has never felt it? I was watching a program last night about an 18 year old girl that has been diagnosed with Kline Levin Syndrome in which she experiences hours long episodes of semi-consciousness that she describes as not being sure if she is asleep or awake and during these she gets up and interacts with her family but she is in more of a child like trance. I remember regularly having symptoms like that during the most active period of my night terrors between the ages of 8 to 12. My parents took me to the doctor during one of these semi-consious episodes and he injected me with some kind of drug to "calm me down". I guess that satisfactorily drugged me out enough that my parents weren't so embarrased by my actions. What I found informative about the program was that since this girls episodes lasted sometimes hours, her parents were able to take her to a sleep center and have a brain scan done while she was in one of these states. They were able to confirm during a 3 hour scan that her thalamus and hypothalamus were experiencing a lack of blood flow during one of her episodes. Since everything the higher brain experiences must travel first through the thalamus and hypothalamus, and both of those parts of the brain control the wake-sleep cycle, it would make sense that a reduced blood flow in that part of the brain would reduce the brain capability of an 18 year old to that of a 4 year old not sure if it is dreaming or awake. It also makes sense that reducing the blood flow to the brain would bring to the forefront of thought our most base feelings that are normally inhibited by the higher functions of the brain during one of these episodes. I can imagine that if you remove all higher functions, the last thing to go would be from the brain stem which is where feelings of pure fear originate. For those of us that only sometimes experience a night terror, and when we do it only lasts about 5 minutes, it would be impossible get a 3 hour brain scan to determine if lack of blood flow to the thalamus and hypothalamus is the answer. Its my personal opinion that I think Kline Levins Syndrome and Night Terrors are related by the same temporary lack of blood flow and that Kline Levins is a state that you would experience between what would be classed as a night terror and what we define as fully conscious.

I think they are on the right track in trying to determine what causes the lack of blood flow to the thalamus and try to ensure blood flow there remains at a normal level during sleep.

Any thoughts?
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Hi Jay,

I do the exact same things as you plus swearing out loud after drinking alcohol and just like you I only do this after a long night out drinking with my friends and I don't think this is night terrors as I'm not generally a guy who scares easily. One thing I've noticed with me is that when ever hard liquor is involved the chances of me doing this is high but lately it has started to happen with beers as well ... have you found any solution to this; I'd be really grateful.

Regards,
Ash
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Avatar_m_tn
I've got the same problem. When I am sober I sleep very quite, but when I get drunk, I scare the **** out of my family with my terrible screaming like somebody is cutting my leg off, I am 27 and it started when I was about 20 years old. Still can't find an explanation on this.
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Avatar_f_tn
I was very interested to find this forum. I have the same symptoms as described by many others and until now I wasn’t really sure what was occurring or if it happened to others. I experience a cross between a night terror and sleepwalking. It occurs around 60 minutes after falling asleep and I begin to dream about being in a strange, unknown place, suddenly I find myself in a 'threatened state' alone and in the dark and realise I quickly have to escape – being locked away in the dark – sets off the terror side and I start to play out the escape part in a physical sense. This can lead to creeping around my bedroom looking for the exit or finding my window  or door and starting to pound on it for help or in an effort  to break out. I often call out but I find that quite difficult. Obviously this is quite dangerous as i am quite violent, and beating on windows etc is a risky exercise. I await once I escape the bedroom or I have played out the dream. When I wake up, I remember the dream and am in a fairly hysterical state which usually takes about 20 minutes to calm down.
I have experienced this since about 20 and I am now 39, but have always expereinced dreaming alot and sleepwalking as a child. The great news is, I have learnt to control it which might be of use to someone.
1. Stress does play a bit part in all this especially emotional stress, so I worked hard on removing / limiting stress from my life that included limited my exposure to toxic people;
2. having a regular and strict sleep pattern and routine before bed;
a. I go to sleep and wait up at the same time each day / occasional exceptions are ok);
b. I have a ritual before going to bed which helps me relax- I use lavender essential oil and drinking relaxing herbal tea, and i read a little.  
3. I avoid over heating whilst asleep – if I over heat I can guarantee I will have a sleep problem
4. As a backup plan, I use a night light (don't laugh) either in the bedroom or in the rooms leading from the bedroom, if I can see the light under the door. I have found that in my dream state I can see the light and it gives me some bearing as to my location and sort of nips the process in the bud. I will occasionally wake up to find that I have been staring at the light (in my sleep), I can sort of lucid dream and realise I am staring at the light and I will put myself back to bed or sleep. It’s very reassuring.
5. it was important the my family and my husband were supportive about my sleeping issues, and how to interact with me whilst in this state. My husband is wonderful and keeps an eye on state such as my temperature (if I am overheating he will remove some blankets etc).  
6. I found that trial and error helped in working out a sleep solution. Its not perfect, but I have accepted that this is just part of my makeup and that’s ok. You just need to manage it like anything else…

I hope this of help…
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Avatar_f_tn
Hello

I read your story of night terrors and decided to join and tell my story also. I was looking for a way to stop them. Im mid 20's and ive had them for years but it was never much of a bother except to my family but they didnt mind too much. Now ive moved into a shared house, i was worried it would happen again and after my first night yesterday my fears were confirmed. Tonight the guy in the box room is here and i really hope they dont happen as he is so close. I often awake terrified, a favourite of my unconscious mind is to think there are spikes or blades firing at me, i squint up my eyes and dive for cover usually sheltering flat against the bed or ground trying to shield my eyes using the covers or pillow for extra protection sometimes yelling the whole time without even being aware of it. Sometimes i just talk or shout or scream my head off. Other times i see people looking at me, ive tempered myself to not talk even when im still sleeping awake but i know from experience that its already too late at that stage the talking and shouting has already occurred. Other times i find myself out of bed or taking cloths out of the wardrobe. The night is supposed to be my peace, when i an escape the world into wonderful rest and forget my troubles and worries but nothing is sacred, my mind has to ruin even this.

I am annoyed and angered by my affliction mainly because my faults are mine and can be dealt with or changed but this is something i have no control over. Currently i have stopped drinking heavily, am exercising more and on a sustainable diet and loosing weight, its hard enough without this ****.... some people just think ur weird or have had something weird happen to you, they dont consider I have no control or that it could be them. You all know what i mean...
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