Wednesday, November 02, 2005

"Sleep terrors"

would be a good title for a novel:

The sleep terror is the most dramatic disorder of arousal, frequently initiated by a loud, blood-curdling scream associated with extreme panic, followed by prominent motor activity such as hitting the wall, running around or out of the bedroom, even out of the house, resulting in bodily injury or property damage. A universal feature is inconsolability, and attempts at consolation are fruitless and may serve only to prolong or even intensify the confusional state. Complete amnesia for the activity is typical, but may be incomplete. The intense endogenous arousal and exogenous unarousability constitute a curious paradox. As with sleepwalking, sleep terrors are much more prevalent in adults than generally acknowledged (up to 3%) (ref. 54). Although usually benign, these behaviours may be violent (Fig. 3), resulting in considerable injury to the victim or others or damage to the environment, occasionally with forensic implications. Treatment options include reassurance, behavioural or pharmacological approaches.

It is rather endearing that "reassurance" is considered a treatment option. (Link via Boing Boing.)


  1. Hi! A decent horror movie on this topic is THEY—rather low-budget but quite effective!

  2. Thanks for the tip, I'll try and check it out. I feel that the horror genre is peculiarly well-suited to explore sleep-related problems; I like Stephen King's novel INSOMNIA, though the first couple hundred pages (in which the sleep problems the main character's having seem to be entirely naturalistic) are better to my mind than the supernatural wrap-up.

  3. I get those night terrors and they are just the craziest things - seriously leading me to doubt my disbelief in the supernatural as I often open my eyes and see, in those brief flashing seconds, people around my bed (and sometimes spiders and cameras and other paranoid paraphernalia). What surprises me is that no neighbours have ever come to investigate the truly blood curling screams that come with these sightings...