With nightmares, you have a really bad dream. With night terrors, you wake up to discover that you have been acting your nightmares out physically. The brain’s normal system that paralyses people during sleep does not seem to work in cases of night terrors. This means that anyone who happens to get in the way of someone in the grips of a night terror may be in for physical harm. That’s the main difference between nightmares and night terrors.
There are some doctors who insist that suddenly awakening from a bad dream counts as a night terror, but some doctors disagree. Anyone who has been in the same room with someone acting out a nightmare and is frantically trying to wake them up before they get hurt will certainly agree that there is a big difference in genuine night terrors.
A Children’s Issue?
Nightmares and night terrors often seem to happen mostly to children, but they have been reported in people of all ages. This writer happened to once have a relationship with a man in his 20’s who sometimes experienced night terrors. We had to sleep in separate bedrooms for the remainder of the eventually failed relationship just for my physical safety.
Both nightmares and night terrors can have a powerful grip on the dreamer. They can be so bad that people will do just about anything to be sure they will not remember their dreams when they wake up. Sometimes, people turn to sedatives, alcoholic beverages or street drugs just to deal with the nightmares. This may be one reason why it seems that children are more affected by disturbing dreams, because they do not have access to these substances.
Bad Dream Trigger
Many things can trigger bad dreams. Common triggers thought to produce bad dreams include illness, fever, pre-menstrual syndrome, certain medications and having lived through a traumatic event. Contrary to popular belief, eating certain foods is not guaranteed to produce bad dreams.
There are as many reasons that people have bad dreams as there are dreamers. Even just having a really good day can sometimes trigger a series of nightmares or night terrors, especially for someone who always expects the worst to happen.
Issue of Remembrance
There are those who remember their nightmares vividly and those who forget all of the details of the dream except for the feeling of fear or panic. That’s also the same with night terrors. Although some pediatricians and doctors will insist that most dreamers who suffer from night terrors do not remember their dreams, there have been many personal testimonies to indicate that sometimes they do remember their dreams.