Ashley and Amy were also sent for sleep studies at Northwestern Memorial Hospital for their unstable sleep patterns. "For people who are really susceptible to night terrors, the unstable sleep leads to the brain pushing a panic button that results in the night terror event," Dr. Schenck says. "Some type of stimulus—it could be a dream, a little movement or some sound—then triggers the massive outflow of adrenalin that results in a night terror."
Ashley experienced two night terror episodes during her study—one just 30 minutes after going to bed—and fell back into a deep sleep after both. "Ashley actually had far too much deep sleep, and the deep sleep took place throughout most of the night," Dr. Schenck says. "Usually, deep sleep occurs at the beginning of the night when we need to restore ourselves. For Ashley, it occurred throughout almost all her sleep."
Dr. Schenck says there are safe and effective treatments to help women like Ashley and Amy. "For milder cases, the intervention usually involves getting enough sleep, being regular about when you sleep and reducing the stress in your life. You may need some counseling or learn yoga, meditation, hypnosis to help tone down your nervous system in preparation for sleep to really calm down," he says. "For more severe cases, there are very effective and safe medications people can take at bedtime that will do the job of preventing that hair-trigger response."
Can past-life regression help ease Amy's night terrors?