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I've Been Having This For Over 35 Years

by Jean Greer
(Vero Beach, FL)

They started when I was in my early 30's - oddly enough after I'd seen the Donald Sutherland movie, Day of the Locust. Coincidence? Mostly they have the same content - that someone (different dress, different shapes) is in the room slowly coming to the bed. I can't move to fight him off. It is terrifying and I start screaming - no understatement. At least I am awake enough that I always scream out my bed partner's name (in the last 20 years that has been easier). The solution is for him to yell back at me or get up and turn on the light. The worst thing he can do is grab onto me. I once went to a psychiatrist and he said they were night terrors that normally only young people have. These come periodically, but more often with more stress.

Kevin: Thanks for sharing this Jean. There's a definite difference between night terrors and sleep paralysis. What you describe, with not being able to move, sounds like sleep paralysis, and sleep paralysis happens to a ton of adults, so don't worry there. While SP is related to REM sleep, night terrors are more related to non-REM sleep, so they are entirely different in cause and structure.

We're trying to get this stuff into the education of doctors and psychiatrists, so hopefully they won't make such errors in the future :P

If you want to see more of the distinction yourself, here's our page about night terrors.

All the best,

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