At least twice in the past three months, I’ve woken up screaming.
Not that I do this often, but when I do, it’s usually because I’m dreaming about someone chasing me or I’m running from something and trying to scream but can’t. It’s always unsettling to hear myself scream in the middle of the night. First of all, it wakes me up (and my husband), and it often leaves me with a feeling of fear.
According to medical sources like WebMD or Psychology Today, nightmares usually occur when we’re in the deepest bog of sleep, which is in the early hours of the morning for most. Nightmares can be lengthy and elaborate; they can also recur and fuel daytime fears.
Medical professionals have lists of potential causes:
Blood pressure meds
Anything that sends signals to the brain
Withdrawal from medication
Basically, they don’t know what causes them.
Then there are night terrors. Apparently, these are completely different from nightmares. Night terrors usually occur earlier in the sleep cycle, and when people wake they’re afraid and don’t know why.
Reading about night terrors reminded me of a show I once watched called My Ghost Story. They interviewed a young woman about her traumatic experience with hag attacks. Doctors might call these night terrors as well. Nightly she was visited by a crone-like being who sat on top of her and held her down on the bed. After a while, the “hag” would leave, but the poor girl became so fearful of these attacks that she just didn’t sleep.
You can watch the video of her interview HERE.
I was familiar with this term because of an old college housemate, who suffered from the same thing. And my sister in law had once been plagued by such a visitation.
They are, apparently, not uncommon.
Do you ever suffer from my nightmares or night terrors?