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.