For weeks or months at a time, I will almost always wake with a start about 15 minutes after I first fall asleep at night (or during an afternoon nap).
It's like I get a sudden little adrenaline burst and wake up suddenly--my eyes fly open. And when that happens, I've always been dreaming something. (I used to always dream I was slipping on wet leaves and my legs would fly up in front of me.) I have no trouble falling back to sleep after a few minutes, when the "adrenaline" subsides, and it never happens again all night. Just 15 minutes after first falling asleep.
Then after a few weeks or months, it won't happen anymore--I fall asleep and stay asleep.
Hi, welcome to the forum, your symptoms are suggestive of Nightmare disorder, or dream anxiety disorder, which is a sleep disorder characterized by frequent nightmares or vivid dreams. Nightmare can be defined type of a dream wherein the individuals will be left in a situation where it jeopardizes their life or personal safety, usually occur during the second half of the sleeping process, called the REM stage.
It can occur normally in persons but in this disorder it occurs at higher frequency. The past event has a left a impact in your mind and hence there is persistent sense of insecurity in your sub conscious mind.
This disorder can be managed by self by alleviating the home and personal life related stress particularly before going to bed. A regular fitness routine, Yoga and meditation can also help to eliminate stress and create a more peaceful sleeping atmosphere and provides a relaxed state of mind. Psychotherapy can also help you to learn how to cope and deal with the various stressors in your life.
Do not worry, follow the above mentioned methods and the symptoms will alleviate soon. I suggest you to consult psychiatrist. Take care and regards.
Dr. Rajput, thank you for your answer. I just saw it today.
I have very few nightmares, and I think a normal amount of dreams. I did notice a big increase in dreaming (or at least remembrance of my dreams) when I began taking Strattera (a norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor) in 2004 to help with my dizziness-related attention/concentration problems. After about a year on Strattera, the "extra" dreaming slowed down and my dream freqency/remembrance returned to normal.
I love my dreams because they often contain very strong and fascinating symbolism about things happening in my life. But I have maybe only two or three frightening or disturbing dreams per year; the rest are just funny or strange.
I have never noticed that the periods of sudden waking every night 15 minutes after falling asleep correspond with periods of higher stress in my life. I live a quite low-stress life. And those sudden-waking episodes are becoming less frequent over time.
Thanks very much for your kind message! Best wishes to you.
Nancy, I know this is a very old discussion, but I thought this might be helpful to someone. I have the same thing, but it happens very quickly, about a minute after I fall asleep. It has nothing to do with nightmares. I also already do all of the things the doctor mentioned-yoga, meditation, regular exercise.
I get rather tired of people saying I have a psychiatric problem when what I have is a sleep disorder. Now that I finally have health insurance, I plan to go to a sleep clinic. Perhaps you should try a sleep clinic, too.
Thank you for your reply, Kate. I'm glad you got health insurance and are able to go to a sleep clinic to see why this is happening. I'll be very interested to hear what they say, so please post a follow-up! :)
These days I still sometimes wake up 15 minutes after falling asleep but not so much with the feeling of an adrenaline burst. This is not really a problem for me, fortunately.
I know how frustrating it is to have something strange happening and have people automatically attribute it to an anxiety/stress/psychiatric problem, before any real thought or investigation has been done. An all-too-common experience. Good luck, and I hope you get an explanation!
The sleep clinic sent me a sleep log to fill out. My appointment is next week. I will try to remember to check back in, but I am very tired! BTW, I also have restless leg syndrome. Both the startling and the RLS used to be mild and a nuisance. But I find as I get older they get worse and worse.
I tried taking Ambien, but I had a reaction and stopped, which means almost no sleep. Not able to drive or go to school. (I'm actually older but going back for a second degree.)
I do have neurological damage from long-undiagnosed Celiac disease, which may be contributing to this. Also wondering if I have some other unusual nutritional problems besides the gluten issue. After I get some sleep, maybe I can figure this all out!
I too have been suffering this problem for a couple of months now. Like everyone else it always takes place straight after I get to sleep and I too wake up with a start, my heart seems to be beating faster, there is no chest pains or anything but it is quite scarey. I don't know if I am going to have a heart attack or not. I sit up for 10 seconds, take a couple of deep breaths and it never happens again during the night. I would be really interested in what the sleep clinic brings up. I too have been to one of those before.
Well, the sleep doc did say this sounds like adrenaline and wanted to do a sleep study. The waiting list for that was 6 weeks. Meanwhile, I stopped sleeping entirely. My family practice doctor did trial of several sleep aids (ambien, luniest, xanax) with either didn't work or only worked briefly. So she prescribed me 50 MG of trazodone at bedtime only. Holy mackerel, did I have awful side effects from that! But, the side effects from zero sleep were worse so I stuck with it. After 3 weeks the side effects have lessened. She then sent me to a psych nurse because this is a psych med that is used off-label for insomnia. Negative-bad side effects at first. Postives-can be used long-term. So I am on it until I go to the sleep lab. An interesting side note, I had a traumatic experience 3 years ago and the psych nurse believes this is delayed PTSD aggravate by poor sleep from Restless Leg Syndrome. Apparently lack of sleep leads to psychiatric disorders. Since I cannot tolerate the meds used for RLS, it seems I may need to treat the side effect of this adrenaline over-dose. I hope not forever!
Oh wow, there are a lot of typos in there! I have been a pretty bad typist (poor focus) since the trazodone. Psych nurse said this will improve. I hope so. I feel like I lost 10 IQ points when I started taking it.
I used to only get this adrenaline burst briefly. As my sleep got worse and worse, it seemed to make the adrenaline bursts worse and worse.
My psych nurse was not too hopeful about the sleep clinic. She said to go, but said they mostly know about and treat sleep apnea. I'm 99% sure I don't have sleep apnea. But she said to go and make sure because that also causes sleep deprivation and leads to all kinds of issues.
I would add that, before the trazodone, I was so sleep deprived that I could no longer drive or work. I had lists to follow to remind myself to take a shower, eat, etc. It got to the point I couldn't even follow the list. I would fall asleep briefly while trying to chew food because I was so tired. I lost weight because eating was too complicated for me to figure out and chewing was such hard work. And then I started having paranoia and panic. Look up sleep deprivation and you will see it causes all kinds of psych issues.
The trazodone literally saved my life. It has side effects. I have a bit of a lag in my thinking and am a bit tippy on my feet. I don't drive on the highway because of the lag, but so far so good on familiar city streets. I would very much like to get off of it. But I realize that is a long term goal. I need to heal my body and my mind first.
Should also add that the RLS (that seems to have started the upset in my sleeping) is something I have had very mildly for a long time. Then it got very, very bad after menopause. (I'm in my 50's.) I wish I had not waited until I was so sleep deprived that I started having psych issues. I should have addressed this problem months ago; then maybe I would not have gotten this bad. I am the kind of person who hates taking any kind of medication. My fear of meds made me delay this until I almost was hospitalized. I encourage people to look at themselves. If you are the type to go quickly to a pill when you have a problem, be cautious about relying completely on pills. If like me, you are afraid of meds, explore those options BEFORE you are too tired to think straight. I am very lucky that I have a doctor who shares my caution about meds and I felt I could trust her judgement when mine completely fell apart.
A good primary doctor who knows you and who you trust is worth searching for. I tried several before I found mine. Do it before you get really sick!
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