The following is a visitor-submitted question or story. For more, you can submit your own sleep story here, or browse the collection of experiences and questions other visitors have shared here.

Sleep Terrors (Panic Attacks) Since I Was A Child, With OCD

by Ann

Hello, I am a 29 year old mother of two. Ever since I was young I've always had problems falling asleep. I would stay up many nights and my panic would increase because I would think "now I only have ___ more hours to sleep until I get up" etc.

I can remember my first sleep panic attack like it was yesterday. It was the day before 2nd grade, I woke up and I was panicking because I didn't have anything to wear for school the next day. I was tearing through winter clothes bags and apparently woke my mom who calmed me down and made me realize I went to a private school and I wore a uniform which was already ready. After that my OCD began, it was really bad as a child (light switches would have to be turned on and off four time before it was "safe" to enter a room, etc.).

My OCD has never went away but as an adult I've learned to 'control' it in a way. My closet is still in color order with everything going from strapless to long sleeved. If anyone messes with it I have to fix it. I've learned to control my compulsions and obsessions so that it is hidden (most of the time, sometimes people catch it and ask what I'm doing and I play it off). I've tried every medication for OCD but I had horrible side effects with all of them and currently only take medication for my panic attacks.

Aside from my OCD I began experiencing day panic attacks at that age (as far as I can remember). I would have the general issues that go with panic attacks and still have them today. I see a psychiatrist and am prescribed Klonopin 1mg 3x a day but generally don't always need them because I can control my day ones pretty well, it's the night ones that have given me problems since 2nd grade.

I remember one sleep panic attack that occurred when I was sick and had a fever. In my sleep panic attacks my OCD kicks in. I wake up, I remember EVERYTHING from that point on and can tell someone about it the next day (which is why I am asking this question because from what I've read this past hour I can't find anyone who remembers their sleep panic attack. I wake up from a dream and 'believe' my dream is true (unless I take a sleeping pill before bed which allows me to not remember any of my dreams the next morning). I stand straight up and know exactly what is happening-I'm having a sleep panic attack. Clocks then freak me out because I have this fear that time isn't what it seems. It's not 'even' with 'even' numbers (my OCD causes me to hate uneven numbers and uneven everything pretty much). If it's minor, I can calm myself down by myself until it goes away after a half hour. If it's a major one, I have to take my Klonopin and 'freak out' for 1 to up to 3 hours.\

The Klonopin will only lessen the episode, it doesn't make it stop. This is my second one this year (that I know of) which is great because I learned that if I take my sleeping pills and Klonopin before bed I can lessen the chance of having one. An odd 'addition' is that when I was pregnant with my son, during my last trimester I had full blown major ones every night and my doctor was forced to put me on Xanax (it took two trips to the ER to get her to agree to this) because they're so bad sometimes I think I'm losing my mind and just want it to end. Vistaril didn't work during my pregnancy and after my son I was immediately put on Klonopin regularly. I did not have this problem with my first child, only right after she was born in 1999.

I do not take any other medications or drugs and they are triggered by nothing, sometimes stress or illness but not every time. I had one last night and can remember everything about it. It lasted an hour. I'm awake but it feels like half my brain is asleep and still in some sleep stage. Can anyone tell me what this may be because it doesn't fit into anything I've found. I can remember everything and I hallucinate with them. I'm a paramedic and my biggest fear is having them at work. Thank you.

Click here to post comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Stories of Sleep Terrors.

Enjoy this page? Please help us pay it forward to others who would find it valuable by Liking, Sharing, Tweeting, Stumbling, and/or Voting below.

About This Site

Welcome! This site is continuously being created by students of Dr. William C. Dement's Sleep And Dreams course at Stanford University.

We made this site as a call to action for people all over the world to live healthier, happier, safer, and more productive lives by learning about their own sleep. We have faith that reading the information provided on this site will motivate you to be smart about your sleep deprivation and strategic about your alertness in order to live life to your fullest, most energetic potential.

In fact, we challenge you to do so! What do you say, are you up for the challenge?

A Note On Visitor-Submitted Questions:

Publishing sleep stories and questions from our visitors is meant to create a forum for open and proactive dialogue about an extremely important portion of our lives (one that occupies 1/3 of it and affects the other 2/3) that isn't talked about enough. It is not meant to substitute a trip to the doctor or the advice of a specialist. It's good to talk; it is not good to avoid consulting someone who's profession it is to help you with this kind of stuff.

If you are in any way concerned about your sleep health, don't wait for an answer on here, and don't necessarily rely on them. See a sleep specialist in your area as soon as possible.

More Questions:

Ask | Answer

The Stanford Sleep Book

Stanford Sleep Book Picture

Dr. Dement's pioneering textbook has been the core text for Sleep and Dreams since 1980, but it has just recently been made available to the wider public for the first time.

In it you'll find a more detailed account of the most important things you need to know about sleep, alertness, dreams, and sleep disorders. Studies, statistics, plus plenty of Dr. Dement's classic anecdotes painting the history of sleep medicine.

Preface | Intro | Contents | Get A Copy

More Sleep Resources

The Zeo

A revolution in personal sleep tracking, the Zeo is a wireless headband that transmits your brainwaves in realtime to a dock (pictured here) or your smartphone. The result? You can wake up and see exactly what stages of sleep you were in during the night! Unprecedented personalized sleep knowledge.

Sleep Paralysis: A Dreamer's Guide

Sleep Paralysis Treatment Book

Ever woken up paralyzed? A surprising number of us have, believe it or not. But few know the actual causes of this phenomenon, and fewer still how to exert control over it. Dream researcher and sleep paralysis expert Ryan Hurd shares breakthrough insights into how to do just that.

Important Disclaimer

Please Note:

The information found on this page and throughout this site is intended for general information purposes only. While it may prove useful and empowering, it is NOT intended as a substitute for the expertise and judgments of healthcare practitioners.

For more info, see our
Terms of Use.