Night terrors or sleep terrors are nighttime episodes that cause people to wake up at night and scream, shout, or thrash around in panic. It is common in kids, but many children do not grow out of them; that’s why night terrors in adults are common, too. It is also experienced by almost 2% of adults. It is hard to find out the exact percentage because most people forget about their night terror experience when they wake up.
Night terrors happen during the beginning stages of your sleeping period. Stages 3 and 4 of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) are also called slow-wave sleep. People usually have only one-night terror in one night, and most of the time, they do not remember it when they wake up in the morning.
If you are suffering from any night terrors, then yes, you are on the right track to find something useful. Here are 14 ways you can stop night terrors or sleep terrors and fight Anxiety:
1. Underlying conditions that could be causing night terrors
Sometimes night terrors are caused by an underlying condition such as sleep disorders or anxiety disorders. If you suspect your night terrors result from an underlying condition you have, you should look for treatment for the condition. For example, if you have insomnia or a sleep disorder, you probably feel tired because of sleep deprivation. Fatigue can cause night terrors or sleep terrors, so you should find a way to beat insomnia.
Once you have taken care of the underlying condition, you will stop experiencing sleep terrors.
2. Managing stress to stop sleep terrors
Stress or Anxiety can also be the cause of night terrors in adults. If you suffer from Anxiety and excessive stress, then it is time you start figuring out what is stressing you out. Extreme stress can worsen symptoms of anxiety, which will cause you to experience night terrors.
Are you worried about work? Missing deadlines? See if you can make a schedule to help you with these things. Please do not take on more work than you can do; otherwise, you’ll find it impossible to manage your stress.
3. Anticipatory awakening
If you have been experiencing night terrors for a long time, then the people who live with you probably know when they happen. If not, you can ask someone to track your night terrors and tell you when they happen. Once you’ve figured that out, you can ask them to wake you up at least 15 minutes before you experience night terrors.
You will stay awake for a few minutes and then go back to sleep. These scheduled awakenings are a great way of beating night terrors in adults and kids alike.
4. Improve your sleep habits to combat sleep terrors
If you have an irregular sleep schedule, you’re more likely to experience night terrors. Improve your sleep quality by going to bed early. Don’t watch TV or use your phone before you sleep and make sure your bed is only sleeping. Make a proper nighttime routine so you can make a habit of sleeping on time.
Your mind should be relaxed and at ease when you’re about to jump into bed. You can try listening to soft music if you have a hard time sleeping at night.
5. Repent and replace negative behaviors
If you are constantly speaking and thinking about negative things, it is destroying you. It would be enough for some people to stop watching TV shows that are stirring up negative feelings. The images that you see affect your mental and emotional well-being. Your words tend to lead your actions, and they are rooted in the depth of your soul.
Let yourself away from negative feelings and harmful acts. Keep yourself calm and try to monitor your actions and thinking patterns. Seek help.
6. Imagery rehearsal therapy
Sometimes night terrors are caused by PTSD. Imagery rehearsal therapy or IRT is a CBT technique used to help people with PTSD and night terrors. The purpose of IRT is to make night terrors in adults less intense and help people overcome their PTSD. A therapist will make you write down and rehearse your episodes with new and more positive endings. If you have nightmares during your attacks, your therapist will ask you to recreate them in detail.
A good therapist will start with an episode that wasn’t too frightening for you so you can build confidence to talk about more frightening ones.
7. Exercise and meditation
Exercising regularly is another great way to help you overcome night terrors or sleep terrors. Exercising and meditating have been proven to make people feel more relaxed and calmer. They’re also good at keeping people mentally and physically healthy.
If you exercise for even 30 minutes every day, your sleep quality will improve, and your night terrors will become less frequent and less intense.
Medications for night terrors aren’t given to children. Night terrors in adults, however, can be treated with certain medicines.
These include benzodiazepine drugs like clonazepam or tricyclic antidepressants like imipramine. Diazepam and valium are also used to treat night terrors. Your doctor will prescribe you low doses of these medications. If you’re already taking medications for any other condition, you should talk to your doctor about them first. Night terrors can often be a side effect of certain medications.
Your doctor will check if you have any other conditions and then prescribe medications accordingly.
9. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine
These three things have been known to exacerbate anxiety symptoms and interfere with your natural sleep cycle. They usually remain in your body for 12 hours, and they’ll make it hard to sleep. Alcohol will make it difficult to feel fresh when you wake up in the morning.
A disturbed sleep pattern will lead to more night terrors in adults, and you’ll also feel more anxious throughout the day. If you consume these three regularly, you might experience withdrawal symptoms that can also cause night terrors, so ask a professional for help.
10. Create a relaxing environment
The first thing you want to do is clean your bed and your room. A tidy room will make you feel calm and relaxed. Set up a few lamps in your room that will affect your mood positively.
Listen to some music you like before you go to sleep and make sure the room smells lovely. All these things will induce relaxation feelings, and they will also keep you distracted from negative thoughts. A clean and safe environment will tell your brain that it’s okay to relax when it’s time to sleep, and it’ll also prevent anything dangerous from happening during your episode.
11. Don’t let anyone wake you up when you’re experiencing night terrors
If you live with other people, you should clarify that they shouldn’t wake you up when you’re experiencing night terrors or sleep terrors. Their first instinct would be to give you comfort, but it can easily make your episode worse and last longer.
The only thing they should do is stay by your side, so you don’t end up hurting yourself. Keep the windows and doors locked before you go to sleep, so you don’t leave the room, and make sure everyone in the house knows that they shouldn’t disturb you when you’re experiencing night terrors.
12. Sleep diary
Start keeping a sleep diary or a sleep log so you can understand your sleep pattern better. The asleep journal will contain your sleeping habits and how they affect your life. You’ll have to write down your sleeping and waking times. You can also describe your night terrors in the diary.
You can show your sleep diary to a sleep specialist who will guide you on improving your sleep quality by changing your sleeping habits. They will evaluate your sleep diary and help you figure out how to manage your sleep routine in a way that minimizes the occurrence of your night terrors.
13. Sleep study
An asleep specialist might refer you for a sleep study if they feel you have an underlying condition causing your night terrors. The asleep study helps specialists diagnose sleep disorders like sleep apnea. It’ll help them understand your condition better, and they’ll be able to help you find the appropriate treatment for your night terrors.
It’s an overnight exam that takes place in a “sleep lab.” An EEG will be used to monitor your sleep stages and REM and NREM cycles. Doctors will also measure your eye movements, oxygen levels in your blood, and body movements during the exam. You’ll be prescribed treatment according to your results.
14. Talk to other people
Many people think night terrors in adults aren’t common. They feel ashamed when they realize they’ve been having night terrors in the presence of other people. It’s natural because a lot of the time, you don’t even remember your episodes when you wake up in the morning. Talking about your experiences with night terrors with other people who’ve been through similar things can help dispel feelings of shame and guilt.
If you don’t feel comfortable talking to people in person, you can find websites online created for this very purpose. Knowing that other people in the world go through the same things will encourage you to help further.
A therapist will help you understand the underlying conditions responsible for your night terrors or sleep terrors. If you think your Anxiety or stress is behind your episodes, then your therapist will work through your issues and problems to help you deal with your night terrors. The most effective form of therapy for night terrors is talk therapy. Your therapist will encourage you to talk about anything that’s been negatively affecting your mental health.
If you have PTSD and have lived through an event, you have a hard time talking about, and your therapist will use professional methods and techniques to help you open up about them. Talking about traumatizing events has been proven to resolve psychological issues.
Night terrors or sleep terrors are usually not something to worry about. Just make sure your bedroom is safe and the doors are locked, so you don’t end up hurting yourself. It’s still important to seek professional help because, in some cases, night terrors in adults point to a psychological problem like Anxiety or depression.
Moving forward with Psychotherapy
Fortunately, Ahealo.com offers a global ePsychotherapy platform that allows clients to book an online anonymous private appointment with a broad skill range of psychotherapists at an affordable cost and desired schedule.
Alternatively, if you need to seek psychotherapy, be sure to check out ahealo.com. Ahealo is an online psychotherapy platform with a diverse range of psychotherapists for many different fields of mental challenges. Ahealo provides ePsychotherapy at an affordable price, confidential, convenient (through a web page 1-1 private video call), and at your comfortable schedule.
With these options, we believe your night terror or sleep terror can be resolved soon.
Take care and stay well.