Q:I have extreme anxiety but only at night. To the point that it keeps me awake for hours. I envision someone coming into our room while we sleep to kill us. And I'm suffering sleep paralysis/night terrors. I wake up and see someone at the foot of the bed or wake up to the sensation of the blanket being pulled off me but can't move/scream. I have been living with my husband for a year and I don't feel any better in our home at night. I don't know what to do to alleviate the anxiety. I feel crazy.
You are not “crazy”. No one is crazy. Everyone in the world experiences something in their life at some point that makes them feel like they are the only one it happens to so there must be something wrong. Thank you so much for bringing up this subject. There is no doubt in my mind that you are not the only one with these experiences and I know it takes courage to admit something that people who may not understand would label as “crazy”.
First let me start with the facts. Sleep terrors affect adults just as they do children and may require treatment if they interfere with sleep or become a safety risk (Ex. becoming aggressive or experiencing extensive sleep walking). Sleep terrors are different from nightmares in the fact that people who have a nightmare may wake up during the dream and remember some details. However, those who have a sleep terror episode often remain asleep and sometimes remember details and sometimes may not remember anything about the event even if it involves sleep walking or events that may appear to another person as someone being awake. Sleep terrors have a plethora of underlying causes ranging from an overfull bladder to anxiety disorders to medications one may be taking.
Seeking medical treatment would be the best way to find a resolution. Talk to your doctor about these experiences. Make sure you give them the most complete picture you can, including your feelings of anxiety. Even keeping a sleep journal can assist them in determining underlying cause and appropriate treatment. They may want to order tests or refer you to another health care provider depending on the symptoms or any test results. Treatments will vary. Some people need medications while others need counseling but in either case, professional help is your best option.
As always draw support from family and friends.
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