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Why do I feel scared while sleeping?

Q: I am a 33 years old male unable to get proper sleep at night because I feel really scared while sleeping. I feel so alone that I have to tell my wife to keep her hands on my heart. I am unable to recognise my disease. Please help.

A:It can be quite distressing to feel scared during sleeping time, and can even lead to sleep disturbance besides affecting your next day's productivity. It is however important to know a few things before one would be able to definitely say as to what one is suffering from. The important questions would be:

  • The feelings of scare occur in which part of the sleep - early - as soon as you go to bed, middle - you get up in the middle of the night, late or after you get to sleep.
  • What thoughts go through your mind then?
  • How long do you remain scared for?
  • How easily you are able to get to sleep thereafter?
  • What do you experience when you feel scared for e.g.: do you sweat , do you problems breathing, do you start feeling hot or cold, do you scream, does your heart go fast?
  • What do you do to cope with this problem?
  • Do you drink alcoholic drinks?
  • Do you smoke?
  • Do you have any physical illnesses for e,g asthma, sleep apnoea disorder?
  • Do you have mental health related problems?
Once you are able to go through this list along with a physician - it would become very easy to understand this experience better and decide if you are having a sleep disorder like night terrors or nightmares or panic attacks or something else which would require specific therapy with medications and sleep hygiene techniques.

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