I experience night terrors quite often, and they usually come in phases so I have spells of not being able to achieve restful sleep for days or sometimes weeks on end.
I am in the middle of one such spell just now and I have to share with you my experience last night.
I settled to sleep at around 10.45pm, which is early for me (I tend to read until about midnight most nights) but I’d been feeling more than a little unwell through the day so went to bed early. I couldn’t go to sleep though, and it was ages before I could drop off. I should really be glad that I couldn’t get to sleep because when I finally did I had the strangest and scariest set of dreams I think I’ve ever had. I remember forcing myself awake after the first dream because the images were so horrible and I was so scared (I seem to be able to realise that I’m dreaming and can wake myself up if it gets too much), and I was absolutely gutted that it was only 1.20am.
1.20 AM????? I must have only been asleep an hour, or 90 minutes tops and already I was into a cycle of terrors, which proved to be the first of half a dozen or more in the night. At one point I seemed to be having a nightmare in which I was asleep and having a hallucination about something evil whilst asleep in my dream. That was something new!
I quite often have hallucinations and I quite often have nightmares but I’ve never had one inside the other before. (Just in case you’re wondering how I know the difference between a hallucination and a nightmare, the hallucinations are clearer and I usually move – sit up and shout or get out of bed etc – whereas nightmares are usually more fluid and less tangible. Both have the power to terrorise though).
As is usual with dreams/nightmares/night terrors the detail is not so clear to me now all this time later, but I do remember how I felt, which was terrible. Each time I woke up it was a relief to have escaped the visions but when I looked at the clock I was filled with dread because there was so much more of the night left and therefore more time to be filled by my feverish imagination.
I do tend to remember hallucinations though. Perhaps it’s because they are more clear to me and they are not usually so scary. I remember once “waking up” to the projection of a black and white image of the London skyline as seen from the Thames. It was as real to me that night as this laptop is on my knee now and I can remember it in immense detail, and I really have to question my memory as to whether I really was asleep or whether it really was a picture on my wardrobe doors!
There have been funny hallucinations as well as the weird, just ask Kevin! Poor chap he has to put up with me doing daft things in the night like suddenly sitting bolt upright and demanding that the purple penguins STOP dancing round the bed because I’m TIRED and don’t they know I’ve got WORK in the morning???!! We quite frequently have conversations about the things I’m “seeing”. Well, I talk and he prompts me with daft questions to make me continue talking rubbish. Tsk….
I’d love to know why I have these experiences when I’m asleep. As I said at the top, they come and go in phases but I don’t know what the triggers are. I have made the connection between some terrifying experiences with having had tramadol just before I go to sleep, but I only take that when my pain is at a certain level. Most of the time I have these dreams without any narcotic influence at all.
On the flip side I do have the occasional experience that is so uplifting and filled with light and joy that I feel like I’ve been in touch with a higher plane. I don’t know whether that’s a Christian thing or a spiritual thing or just an imagination thing, but given the choice between the terror of last night and the warm joy those experiences bring, I know which I would choose any time!
What are your experiences? Do dream? Are they terrifying or are they more middle of the road things – losing keys, not being able to run away from something, being naked in public? What about dreams that seem to be more than dreams and feel like a message from somewhere outside your own conscious?
Drop me a line and let me know I’m not alone!!