Dreams are really interesting to me because it’s so neat to see what our subconscious thinks about situations in our current life. For instance, we may think nothing of an incident that happened two years ago but when it constantly shows up in our dreams, or even just shows up once, that incident has significance in our minds. Sometimes dreams aren’t as simple or as nice as we’d like them to be. All of us have nightmares and to all of us they can seem very real at times. I hear people classify their dream as a night terror and not a nightmare or vice versa. But what is the difference between the two?
Nightmares are very different from night terrors. The major difference is that nightmares occur during REM stage of our sleep cycle. Another major difference is that if you are woken up in the middle or even after a nightmare, you become aware that it was just a dream, a bad dream, but still only a dream. You can usually remember what happened in the nightmare and are easily soothed after woken up.
Night terrors on the other hand happen within the first few hours after your head hits the pillow. They are more common among children but still many adults experience them as well. In a night terror, the sufferer may scream or jump out of bed, in many cases this is the time when sleep walking happens. The person having a night terror will be half-asleep at the time so it’s often hard to reason with them. But in a night terror, you usually cannot remember much of what happened at all, as opposed to a nightmare where the dream is vividly remembered. Sometimes reality mixes together with the night terror and you are unaware of what’s going on around you. Screaming, sweating, heavy breathing, thrashing around, kicking, dilated pupils, and unawareness of surroundings are some common things that occur after a night terror.
Either way, both nightmares and night terrors can be very frightening experiences, especially for children. There are many specialists out there who can help with how to prevent this from occurring on a nightly basis and can help you to feel safe in your own bed.
“I have had dreams, and I have had nightmares. I overcame the nightmares because of my dreams.” ~Dr. Jonas Salk
This is such a powerful quote because it is so true and so relatable to each of us. Everyone has nightmares or night terrors and to everyone they are very real. They definitely live up to the name of sleep disturbances!
Whatever your nightmare may be, don’t let it haunt you so much that you lose sight of your dreams.
Here are the sources for my info for this blog post: