I am not afraid… I am not afraid…

For years I’ve been plagued with a sleeping disorder, and didn’t really know it.

Rather, I knew it, but didn’t do any looking into it until this morning. I guess there’s hundreds of reasons not to look into health problems, particularly ones that centre around the mushy mass in your noggin, but I’m blaming this on pure lazy/forgetfulness.

See, sleeping disorders, as is their nature, tend to happen at night. Well, by morning, I’ve usually long forgotten about whatever little hiccups I’ve had in my slumber and just continue about my day. At first this particular problem was infrequent at best, and easily forgotten.

However, I’ve noticed over the last few months it’s increased, and is now bordering on commonplace.

So, what’s the problem already, eh? It would seem (from my trusty Google search), that I suffer from Night Terrors. Sounds exciting eh? It’s not.

night terror pictureBasically, I wake up in the middle of the night, disoriented, in a quasi-dreamlike state and am usually fixated on something or someone being in the room (it rotates between people, creatures, insects, etc.). It’s damn creepy to be sure, and to be honest, I’m the fortunate one, because after about a minute or two of freaking out, I just settled down and fall back asleep.

Maggie, on the other hand, can do nothing but sit there with a wide-eyed WTF expression on her face and question just who the hell she’s married.

Night terrors are quite different than nightmares. They occur in the fourth stage of sleep (the one just before you get all REM paralyzed), usually within the first hour after falling asleep. Though a lot of people who have night terrors wake up screaming, I don’t seem to do this (thank god).

The first night terror I remember having was when I was about 18 or 19. I had been out partying with a friend and ended up crashing at his place. I slowly woke up in the morning convinced that there was a large bumble bee hovering in the corner of the room (refresher – I fear bees like no other). Slowly my vision cleared, and I ‘woke up’ fully to realize that I was panicking over a splotch on the old wallpaper.

The next time (in memory) that this occurred was when I was about 23-24 and living with my ex. I don’t actually remember this one, but she explained it in detail the following morning. Apparently, in the middle of the night, I bolted upright in bed, turned to the room’s outside wall and beckoned someone/thing to “come in”. She was, unsurprisingly, quite weired out.

Fast forward about a year later, I was now living on my own in a basement room of a shared house. This time I woke up by myself at the end of my bed with my rather large and heavy wardrobe (complete with 19″ TV inside it) on my lap. I’ve no memory at all of what happened – but assume it’s related.

I don’t remember any particular incidents after that, until Maggie and I started to live together. Now they happen on a semi-frequent basis (none quite as disturbing as that last one). Generally, they sometimes involve me being convinced that there’s a person in the room with us, but more often than not it’s a bug or spider in the bed or on the walls/ceiling.

Thankfully I finally got off my ass (or rather got on it) and started searching around online. I found the Night Terrors Resource Center, a great site with lots of information about this – including tips for the partners of us sufferers (really, I think they deserve the “sufferers” title more).

Maggie’s suggested I see a TCM doctor about it. So perhaps soon I’ll be drinking herbs and getting poked with needles in search of a cure. Interim, the site states that one of the underlying causes is ‘stress’ (what isn’t stress a cause of, honestly), and though I don’t “feel” stressed (I’m total dao yo!), I’m going to start doing some anti-stress exercises before bed and stop thinking about work before I fall asleep.

We’ll see if any of it helps.

16 Responses

  1. That’s crazy, I’ve totally had a few of those myself. (Hi, my name is Jason and I also have night terrors) I hadn’t had one in many years, but ironically, only a few days ago, I had another.
    I think it had something to do with just arriving in China again. While staying at my buddy’s place, I woke up and starting screaming about the bed collapsing on me. I freaked out and even woke up said friend only to realize a few minutes later I had no idea what I was talking about.
    Sounds similar. At least you’re getting help though!

  2. I hope the TCM works.

    What happened with your school, I assume you’re out for the summer? How was being a student different from being a teacher/worker in China. (inquiring minds want to know.)

  3. For years I have suffered from insomnia, it bothered the hell out of me first to the point I wouldn’t let my ex sleep, but somehow I manage to live with it.

  4. Hey Ryan, Sounds like night terrors are a pain in the ass for you and poor Maggie. I suffer from a different sleeping disorder myself – “Sunlight”. As stupid as it sounds it really affects me badly. As soon as the sun rises and hits my eye lids I am [email protected]#ked! Now that summer has arrived I am looking at 4:30am starts now and I have no hope of going back to sleep. You may think just put a pillow over my head and get on with it but just that initial wake up tends to keep me up. I have tried those silly looking eye covers, card board on the windows and even going to bed in the early mornings to find it doesn’t help. The only thing that works ok is to get pissed drunk! But, I fear if I start that every night it might lead to other problems………….. But at least I’ll get a good nights rest.

  5. Geez, looks like everyone’s got some “diagnosis” or another, hehe. Not that I imagined that I was, but it’s good to know I’m not alone.

    @Xuexiansheng: I’ve not started being a student yet. I register in July and start in September. I’m finished teaching in two weeks and counting every second!

  6. oh my god- I never knew there was a name for that- I thought I was just having normal nightmares.

    I used to get these about once every few months but in the last few years I have had them nearly every week. They are usually about people coming toward me menacingly, or large heavy things falling onto me in bed and I can’t move away, and occasionally about animals, snakes, etc.
    My poor boyfriend, Phil, is an angel for putting up with me, not to mention putting up with the bruises from when I grab him.

    So what’s the cure???

  7. I unconciously grind my teeth at night because of stress. The excess pressure applied to the gums leads to gingivitis over time. Like yourself, I don’t particularly “feel” stressed, but then, how does one go about determining if they are feeling stressed? Maybe they are just stressed all the time and don’t really have anything to compare it to and so just don’t feel it. Exercise definitely makes me feel better though.

  8. i have sleep apnea which is quite common I am sleepy all the time and I wake with headaches and high blood pressure. I am not sure why people don’t take sleep disorders seriouslty but it has made my life a hellish fear of going to sleep.

    Good luck with yours

    F

  9. Good luck m8.

    I saw a programme on the telly for bout 1 year ago about NT, and it really was horrifying to see the shoot footage of these peeps had an “attack”.

    No only would these guys feel afraid in their sleep like I’ve never seen anywhere else, but also they would feel tired when they woke up. Kinda kills the “want-to-go-to-sleep-feeling”, eh?

    I’ll cross my fingers for some herbal remedy πŸ™‚

  10. Giselle: My wife has reversed insomnia. πŸ˜› (no phun intended)

    She can sleep 10-11 hours a day, while I only can manage 6-8 on a regular day. I don’t mind that she sleeps that much (hey, were all different right?). But she has an idea that she can’t sleep without me, which basically means that I have to go to bed earlier than I like, and get a grumpy wife when I get up, since she does not get her required 10 hours πŸ™‚

    Maybe it’s a little off the track for this entry, and a tiny problem compared to you guys, but maybe it tells how important a good nights sleep really is.

  11. You’re going to try chinese folklore remedies, ahem, medicine for a sleeping disorder?? Whatever saves you money, man.

  12. Hey, I remember when that wardrobe fell on you, I’m glad there’s finally an explanation other then creepy roommate that keeps an axe in his room, lol

  13. @Chip: Better that than getting hooked on psychotropics or anti-depresants, which seems to be the common solution by Western standards. I’ll take the tea over that any day.

    @Cory: Yeah… he was creepy. It didn’t settle me at all that he had such an affinity for horror films, nor that his girlfriend was so flirty… damn worrisome that.

  14. Ryan, you have balls of steel. Announcing to the world – your very personal stuff – takes a lot of courage. Come to think of it, I suppose I also have had Night Terrors, but extremely rarely. My biggest hassle is the waking up and wondering… which country am I in ? Which City ? Yukes and I are nesting so comfortably now that the knot has been tied. I really like her, so stable, so reliable. We might have a spat every uhhh, 4 or 5 months, but they are short-lived. Regards to Maggie from both of us, and we should catch up with Canada Kevin in SIP soon, if you have time, OK ?

    J.

  15. @Jamieson: Re: the personal stuff… the truth is, I am just used to it I guess. I’ve been blogging for so long that my lines between private and public are massively blurred. When Maggie first came into the picture I explained it to her, and she doesn’t mind that she’s mentioned on here – a small amount of fame for a girl that wanted to be a superstar when she was a kid (and what Chinese girl doesn’t?).

    Definitely up for the catch-up. I’ve loads of time – I’m technically unemployed πŸ˜‰

  16. Pingback: Tim Horton’s in China | A China Blog on Suzhou Expat Life | The Humanaught

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