What is Dangerous Dreaming?


Dream Question:

Is there such a thing as dangerous dreaming?
Can someone that is dreaming be dangerous? My husband woke me up last night with his fist in my face but his eyes were closed. He jolted the whole bed he had jumped so hard. I screamed and he woke up. He said that he was dreaming that he was fighting someone. It really frightened me. Was he really angry with me about something? He did this another time about a year ago.

Answer:

During sleeping and dreaming we undergo a phenomenon called Sleep Paralysis which is a normal, natural bodily function that causes our physical bodies to be paralyzed during sleep.

The purpose of this is to prevent us from hurting ourselves when we’re dreaming,and from having dangerous dreaming experiences like the one you experienced.

This is supposed to happen every time we sleep and it usually sets in long before we start dreaming. When it’s not working properly, we have serious problems like sleepwalking and sleep eating.

Normally, we are not conscious when sleep paralysis sets in, so most people don’t even know it exists.

Your husband appears to suffer from a disorder called "somnambulism" or as it is commonly called "sleepwalking", however, that term is misleading because somnambulism does not only refer to 'walking'but to any "acting out" during sleep.

For more information on this subject please visit our section on Sleep Walking here.

In your husbands case for some reason or not his body is not releasing the chemicals that trigger sleep paralysis, and thus seems on occasion to be acting out what he is seeing in his dreams. ie. when you have woken up with a fist in your face.

I want you to know that he IS acting out his dreams which DO NOT relate to you so no, your husband was not angry with you. He did not mean or intend to be violent like that, he is suffering from a disorder where his body does not become paralyzed.

This can be dangerous and I suggest you and your husband seek help for this.

Treatment:
There are some things a sleepwalker can do:

* get plenty of rest; being overtired can trigger a sleepwalking episode.

* Develop a calming bedtime ritual. Some people meditate or do relaxation exercises; stress can be another trigger for sleepwalking.

* Remove anything from the bedroom that could be hazardous or harmful.

* The sleepwalker's bedroom should be on the ground floor of the house. The possibility of the patient opening windows or doors should be eliminated.

An assessment of the sleepwalker should include a careful review of the current medication so that modifications can be made if necessary.

Hypnosis has been found to be helpful for both children and adults.

An accurate psychiatric evaluation could help to decide the need for psychiatric intervention.


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