mental illness

PTSD Nightmares and Night Terrors


Nightmares can accompany the other symptoms of PTSD. This is like a flashback in your sleep. The subconscious creates the dreams during sleep, and the subconscious brain holds the trauma.

It makes sense that the subconscious brain would try to work things out during sleep. Maybe it replays situations to try to find another way to view the traumatic events.

Maybe the fight or flight mode gets triggered during your sleep. Or maybe whatever emotions are the most supressed are going to be brought up during sleep, to try to reslove them.

But when night terrors and nightmares surround you….you find yourself in the midst of terror. The exact events may not play out in the dream. It may be a series of short scenes that bring up the emotions of fear and terror.

I find that my dreams will take sudden unexpected turns, and I suddenly am trapped into a situation that brings up those feelings of darkness and terror. Sometmes I am trying to figure a solution to escape….and everything I try in the dream makes my surroundings darker and more terrifying.

Night terrors will follow you right out into the room. Usually, I have been fighting hard to wake up…and then suddenly begin to feel conscious…but there is a feeling of the evil in the dream pulling me back in….almost like hands around my throat pulling me backwards to fall.

I fight and struggle to pull myself out of the dream state and into being conscious. But once I realize I am awake…just barely….I simultaneously realize that the evil element (creature or entity) has escaped out of the dream, and is waiting for me in the darkness of the room.

It is waiting for me in the dark room.

I can neither return to the sleep state safely, nor can I wake up feeling safe. Part of me knows that I am still being influenced by the dream…but another part of me warns me to lie perfectly still….so as not to alert the creature (or creatures) that I am awake.

It is as if I feel like hiding from them, by pretending to still be asleep. I am afraid to move or make a sound.

Personally, I believe this is something similar to the “soul loss” described by Shamanism. The soul has left its regular residence within the human form of your body.  

Now…the evil creature from the dream is lurking about….trying to get me to reveal where my soul has been hidden.

All feelings of safety are under attack….No… Worse than that….The manipulator is lurking in the shadows…waiting to frighten me.

Night terrors are common with people who have PTSD. This leads to sleep deprivation for a few reasons. Different people will have different variations on how the sleep is dis-regulated.

Some people will wake up from this kind of dream, and be afraid or unable to fall back asleep. Sometimes the best thing to do at that point,  is to get up and do something for a little while….get a snack, write on your blog….like I am doing now…

Some people with PTSD dread  going to sleep at night on most nights…for fear of the night terrors…so they have insomnia. Hours go by as they think about their need to sleep, but instead of going to bed they stay awake finding things to do at night.  They are afraid to be asleep.

Our fight or flight mode can over-ride other brain functions. Logic and rational function shuts down to a point during a fight or flight anxiety attack. The “limbic system”… with the amygdala at its center… takes over.

The fight or flight mode can be triggered while you are awake…or when you are asleep…then it can draw you into a trance-like state. This might be a form of “detachment” as the emotional brain becomes too full of dread.

I often hear clients talk about having a feeling of detachment during the originating trauma. It is a way of the brain to protect itself, and the body,  from shock.

This detachment, during the trauma, may relate to these repressed emotions coming out in your dreams. The emotions can take on the form of evil, malicious entities.

The fact that the evil is waiting in your dreams to come find you….or waiting in the darkness of the room to grab you….is the repressed feelings about the terror you tried to shove down.

Any typos in this…I will proof tead tomorrow. I am no stste to edit right now. Too tired, too bleary eyed..and my reading glasses are someplace but I am not sure where right this second.

It was basically a Stream of Consciousnesswriting about PTSD and night terrors….

Keep in mind, if you havePTSD….sleep deprivation is your enemy….and a good night’s sleep is your friend.



9 thoughts on “PTSD Nightmares and Night Terrors”

  1. So sorry to hear this Annie! I have not been having regular nightmares, but “half insomnia” the last few months, where I can only sleep 3-4 hours in the night… luckily, I get to work from home right now, so I will take 1-2 hours in the afternoon where I will fall asleep willingly or unwillingly from exhaustion.
    I think it is my mind being nervous about potential future (escalated) narc hoovering, now that I am working harder than ever on keeping No Contact. (I “slipped” to much with NC in the past). My mind doesn’t seem to be able to rest properly, anxious about hoovers…

    Sorry to tell so much about my own story in this comment. I just felt so very connected to this post of yours, but in a slightly different way.
    I wish for you to get back your good sleep. We all need it. Take care and be well. Thanks for sharing this amazing post. 💜💕💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing. You are always welcome to share here.
      I woke up early this morning with the nightmare and I was afraid to go back to sleep. I thought blogging would distract me until I felt safe to go back to sleep. So I wrote this and then went back to sleep with no more nightmares for the night.

      I have been having a lot of nightmares lately. It usually happens when there is some new or escalated trauma. I am not quite sure what is causing it this time. I feel like something is coming….like one of the narcissists in my life is about the do something bad to me.

      Sounds weird but I always got this feeling before something happened in the past. I am trying to be as balanced as possible and trying to become financially stable, so that I will be be able to withstand the storm….

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, I hope you do get some good sleep, soon. It is so essential to our well-being. I am lucky to be able to work from home now, so I can take naps in the day. It’ soon 3 am here where I live, and I sit at my computer and work…. 🙂
        I really hope that nothing bad is going to happen. If you get more clues to what that could be, I hope you are able to protect yourself somehow. Take care and be well. 💜


      2. Your compassion is appreciated. More compassion is needed in the world. I am beginning to see that so many empaths, and particularly compassionate humans have been broken by narcissists and psychopaths, that is reduces the amount of compassion that is able to be spread towards the people who need it. We give our energy and compassion to the narcissists, Then they break us and drain us. So many of us end up stuck in the bed and in the house…unable to go out and share our love with people who could really use it….and that would love and care about us back.

        The narcissists are all out there just fine, so they spread more venom to others, while we are stuck in our houses. We have to get out there and spread love and compassion with each other….even if it is online….just like you did in your comment, letting me know that I matter…and not calling me crazy or paranoid.

        Well I do have some hints that something is going to happen…because my ex husband keeps asking me how much money I am making at the life coaching….The only times he has ever asked about how much money I am making in the past, were when he was planning something with a woman…and he was about to take off and leave me and the kids with no child support. He has asked me several times about the money and when I will be able to support myself and the kids.

        It is nearly impossible in new jersey for a woman to support 3 people. and not have to never see the kids because she is at work for 2 jobs.I cannot be gone all the time. I have a daughter who has a history of mental health issues and I cannot leave her alone for all day..every day. I am trying to get the coaching business going so that when my ex does pull something…like he does every few years….then I will be prepared for him to take off..leave the kids….devastate them…and leave us with no child support.

        I can feel it in my bones that something is coming. But I have survived this kind of thing many times. But it is sad because every time I start to get financially stable. he screws me somehow and knocks me down into poverty. I am so sick of living this way. My kids deserve better.

        Thank you for connecting. Stop by anytime,

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Oh, I am so touched by you telling more about your story. I can understand the difficulties. I hope with all my heart that you can find solutions for the work and money situation and peace from the narcissists. You are so right, they do drain us so that we have little left to give to others. Take care and be well. See you around!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for writing about night terrors. I get these too. It’s like I need to defend myself in the dream, to stick up for myself. So I become aggressive in my dream, I start shouting. Other times I have terrifying nightmares, but know that I’m dreaming and try to wake myself up, by shouting. Either way the end result is the same, I wake up shouting, or making these weird demonic growling noises…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought it would be good thing to write about, since it is rarely talked about. I am glad I was able to open up communication about this. Thank you for sharing your experiences with nightmares and night terrors. I know what you mean about knowing that you are having a bad dream and trying to wake yourself up from it. It is a weird sensation to be trying to escape from your own mind. I have been there and it is not pleasant.

      Thank you for reading and sharing.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you fr the re-blog. I am glad this post was validating to so many people. I got more comments on this post than I usually get. I think this must be an issue that a lot of people from abuse have….but ut us never talked about.


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