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Sleep Terror, I "Attack" My Wife

by Eben
(Melbourne, Australia)

I'm not sure if it's me or my wife. It's happened several times that I find myself on top of my wife, and she's screaming. I don't know if she's having a night terror, or if I am, and have startled her. We have a phone app that records our sleep, and almost every night, within the first 5 minutes of us falling asleep, she'll start talking. It's most often short sentences, with a sense of urgency to them, and repetition of a phrase. Something like "no, no no! Don't, Don't Don't!!" Sometimes it wakes me up, sometimes it doesn't.

On the nights when one of these "attacks" have happened, I haven't been dreaming. From my memory, I suddenly "awake" in our room, and realize that something's wrong. It's different than a dream, where you look around, and you know it's a certain place, whether or not it looks like that place. This is our room. Laid out exactly the way it should be, me on my side of the bed, and dark. My wife is screaming (I don't know if she is actually screaming in real life) and suddenly I "see" a dark figure in our room. Kind of like lucid dream. I don't see them at first, but because she's screaming, i suddenly realize that someone's there, then I see something I didn't see before.

It's different each time it happens. Sometimes is the outline of a person at the edge of the bed, and in that instant, it's as if i've woken up to her realizing someone's there, and screaming. Sometimes, it's that i've woken up to her screaming that there's someone next to her side, grabbing at her, or trying to bite her. In every instance, I throw myself over her, both to protect her and to get at whatever the threat is. I try to grab it, and to push it away from her, and her away from it, but since there's no one there, in reality it's just me pushing on her.

This terrifies me. The thought that my actions of trying to protect the most important person in my life is actually doing her harm. I have to wonder if it's her having a night terror and screaming that sends me into a 1/2 awake motion, that then terrifies her even more.

There's been nights where i've woken up to her screaming "Oh my God Oh my God, someones there!" and she's crawling over me to get away from her side of the bed. I didn't do anything that night apart from wake up. There's been nights where I wake up to her screaming, and in that instant that i'm about to jump up, hold myself back. It feels so evil. The thought that there might actually be someone in our room, and i'm letting it happen because I think she's just dreaming. Those few times I have had the impulse to jump up but done nothing, it of course has turned out to be nothing. So why do i sometimes realize what's going on, and sometimes not?

She never remembers what it is she's screaming about, or worried about. And it's not always screams. Sometimes it's giggles, or just nonsense words. But always within the first 45min of sleep. Lately we've been looking at the clock when it happens to confirm the times. We've had to start sleeping in separate beds. That feels horrible. We both record our sleep individually. She talks most every night. Me only occasionally, and only for a few seconds, but no thrashing or moving around. There's only been one night since we started recording that there's been an "attack" but unfortunately we weren't recording that night. Some nights we forget to turn the app on, or we go to bed at different times.

I'm seeing a psychologist about it, but i feel like it's a waste of time, because it's not a bad dream I'm having, nor anything i can ever remember. There's no trigger for it, and no common events, other than the impression that someones in our room, and that it always happens at approx the same time after falling asleep.

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