Nightmare And Night Terrors

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Nightmares are defined as repeated awakenings from the major sleep period or naps with detailed recall of extended and extremely frightening dreams, usually involving threats to survival, security, or self-esteem. The awakenings generally occur during the second half of the sleep period also know as the REM stage of sleep (Psych Central, 2013). Nightmares affect all ages, but children seem to have such dreams more often. Nightmare disorder should not be confused with night terrors, for they have a different effect on the dreamer. Night terrors are episodes of panic and confusion, with difficulty walking or bringing to awareness, and of which the sufferer has no recollection (Kavanagh, 2010). Major differences between both is that nightmares are vivid images, while night terrors are feelings or emotions that can not be recollected. Also, as stated before, nightmares occur during the REM stage of sleep. In contrast, night terrors occur during the non-REM stage which happens within the first 3-4 hours of sleep. Although both nightmare and night terrors bring great discomfort to the individual, it is important to note that they are different disorders.
There are signs/symptoms that an individual can present that easily help identify a nightmare disorder. The most common sign is seen when an individual repeatedly awakes from his or her sleep, during the second half of his or her sleep. On awakening, the sufferer is usually rapidly orientated and alert. Moaning, moving, talking or flailing to indicate a potentially disturbing dream are also other possible signs of nightmare disorder (Regional Center, 2014). During night terrors, the dreamer has recurrent episodes of intense crying and fear during sleep, in most cases the individual h...

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...he propensity to nightmares. Use of night lights and other strategies may reduce a child's anxiety levels at night. If the nightmares are recurrent then it may help for the parents to talk through the nightmare and imagine a less scary endings. For adults, behavioral approaches in the treatment of nightmares have been successful and can result in short- and long-term reduction of nightmare frequency in more than 70 percent of patients. Such therapy requires only a few group or individual sessions with a psychologist or in a sleep medicine center (Pagel, 2000). Unlike other major disorders, nightmare disorder allows the individual to take personal steps to overcome the disorder before seeking professional help. For many, being able to self treat the disorder gives them greater empowerment and allows the individual to help others who experience the same disorder.

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