If you are like me, you don’t just have nightmares, you have night terrors. A night terror is a term that is used to describe dreams that are worse than nightmares, for the fact that they affect you much longer after awaking. The night terror feels so real that it’s hard to distinguish what is real and what isn’t, upon waking. It stays with you the entire day, leaving this sick feeling on your person.
My night terrors almost always dealt with someone or something chasing me. My mind would be working so hard to escape whatever was after me, that I would find myself drenched, head to toe, in sweat. Sleeping is supposed to restore the mind and the body, but the energy that is used during night terrors, only depletes the body more. I remember waking up in the morning from having a night terror, and immediately start crying. Crying from exhaustion, but also because the dream felt so real to me. So real that I just spent the entire night in that fight or flight mode. I would even get depressed over losing imaginary people in the dream. Typically there would be one person in the dream trying to help me, and almost always that person would be killed in the dream. It would feel so real to me that I would be devastated all day long over losing that one person who was acting as my savior. The person wasn’t real, but the feelings that they gave me, help and the loss, those were real. I would grieve over that loss. The loss of someone to help save me from the seemingly life-threatening attack. It would sometimes take me all day long to shake away the negativity attached to the night terror.
I have tried many different ways to deal with these dreams. Talk therapy, learning the interpretations to dreams and their meanings, and other such things. Although they helped me understand the dreams and why I was having them, it did not make the night terrors dissipate. And then I was told about lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming is the act of being aware enough in the dream, to know one is dreaming. If one knows one is dreaming, one can start to change and control the dream.
Funny story, to practice becoming aware in a dream, I practiced asking myself, “Can I do this in real life?” Soon, my mind started asking myself that when I was in the dream state. And I always seemed to ask myself that when I was flying, which I regularly do in my dreams. Each time I would tell myself in reply, “Of course I can fly in real life, so this must be real life.” Obviously, lucid dreaming takes some practice and time. And if it does not work at the beginning, as in my case, try it from a different angle. For instance, the more I tell myself that I am going to lucid dream tonight, the more likely it will happen than if saying I cannot lucid dream and I probably never will. Setting a clear intention is very important and to stay firm in its belief. Furthermore, I would take a reoccurring night terror and write it down, except I would not write it out fully, I change its direction half way through. That way my mind gets used to stopping the reoccurring dream and directing it in a direction that is more preferable to how I see fit.