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Sleep Disorders/waking up screaming


My mom 77 years old had an odd episode last night. She fell asleep and after sleeping for about half hour she woke up screaming in terror and in her mind she was thinking "I need to scream or else I will die" and she was thinking what a horrible way to die. She screamed about 6-7 times. My dad obviously scared was asking her "what's wrong?" and she couldn't answer him cause she was scared of dying if she stopped screaming. Only after a bit she told him "I don't know what happened." She didn't feel bad, but had a sore throat, and felt cold internally in the left side (she has this often during the day though). She had an electrocardiogram done in September and her heart was fine. She sometimes has sleep apnea (not diagnosed sometimes just waking up with trouble breathing) that makes her wake up coughing every once in a while. After the screaming episode, my dad told her to not fall asleep for some time so she stayed awake up to 4 AM. After 4 she slept normally until 7PM. Any explanations?

Sometimes just upon awaking or falling asleep, we have  a normal phenomenon. This is called hypnangogic hallucinations with sleep paralysis.  Our bodies and brains are made so that they both awaken together and go to sleep together, However sometimes there is a nano second glitch, so we are dreaming with our eyes open.  Dreams are so vivid and frightening usually of people chasing you or you are in some danger.  Many times for an hour after the episode one is afraid to go back to sleep> Knowing its normal helps. For the elderly it may happen more,However in her case she also has sleep paralysis ,she is prone to have it more often. This could be avoided by getting fit for a cpap machine.  I would contact my md if itpersist.  However if this only happened once, I would say it was one of those natural phenomenon. Why she did it often is that if she is shaken out of it,  what happens is it must come out of her, So she may do it again.  Scientist found that when this happens if you just calmly say to the person. Mom this is so and so , wake up mom, you are allright. Try to move your eyes from right to left.  That breaks it instantly.   Just keep a check on it, because of the apnea, but hopefully it wont happen again.  They are so terrifying. People with Narcolepsy like myself will get them. I also once in awhile,however some of us 3 and 4 times a night.  and its horrendous.  Feel free to email again Karel

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Karel Sleis


all questions on sleep disorders,expert on narcolepsy,its symptoms


i have narcolepsy since age l6

past chairman of the american narcolepsy association
member of narcolepsy network

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