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Night Terrors and Nightmares


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Hi All


I have been on 18mg of Diazepam for ten years. Recently my anxiety and other symptoms have got much worse. I have been getting extreme night terrors and nightmares over the last few months. I wake with palpitations and very hot. Then almost impossible to get back to sleep. Then during the day I have extreme muscle pains in my back shoulders and neck. Also it feels like me heart and stomach are shaking.


I have had tests by my doctor and they comeback as normal. Feeling totally lost, like I am going to die or go mad.


Is this tolerance withdrawal symptoms and has anyone else experienced this?


Thank you

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Hi Sam


Yes sounds like tolerance withdrawal symptoms to me, its all normal, I reached tolerance level and was symptomatic most of the time.  The night terrors often happened as I drifted off to sleep and I would wake up in complete terror, shaking.    My anxiety was through the roof at bedtime terrified of sleeping.  Withdrawal symptoms are awful but they wont harm you.  Muscle pains are also a very common benzodiazepine withdrawal symptom, withdrawal from benzos is tough but worth it.


The following is from The Ashton Manual.  You will find a list of symptoms in the manual.


Muscle symptoms. Benzodiazepines are efficient muscle relaxants and are used clinically for spastic conditions ranging from spinal cord disease or injury to the excruciating muscle spasms of tetanus or rabies. It is therefore not surprising that their discontinuation after long-term use is associated with a rebound increase in muscle tension. This rebound accounts for many of the symptoms observed in benzodiazepine withdrawal. Muscle stiffness affecting the limbs, back, neck and jaw are commonly reported, and the constant muscle tension probably accounts for the muscle pains which have a similar distribution. Headaches are usually of the "tension headache" type, due to contraction of muscles at the back of the neck, scalp and forehead - often described as a "tight band around the head". Pain in the jaw and teeth is probably due to involuntary jaw clenching, which often occurs unconsciously during sleep.


Insomnia, nightmares, sleep disturbance. The sleep engendered by benzodiazepines, though it may seem refreshing at first, is not a normal sleep. Benzodiazepines inhibit both dreaming sleep (rapid eye movement sleep, REMS) and deep sleep (slow wave sleep, SWS). The extra sleep time that benzodiazepines provide is spent mainly in light sleep, termed Stage 2 sleep. REM and SWS are the two most important stages of sleep and are essential to health. Sleep deprivation studies show that any deficit is quickly made up by a rebound to above normal levels as soon as circumstances permit.


Magrita :thumbsup:


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You've described some of my tolerance symptoms quite well. I had others too. It was then I looked deeper for answers on my own and then realized I had been in tolerance for months.


I am now off the meds. No more nightmares and I am sleeping hard again 90% of the time. I do have vivid dreams a bit - but in no way what they were.


It took little bit to get  this back, but take hope bc you can be well :smitten:

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Hello All


Thank you so much for your replies, they have been most helpful.


The night terrors and nightmares are continuing and now I am getting surges of adrenaline in my sleep which is very upsetting. I have a list of other symptoms that is very long, all most be benzo related as they appear in the Ashton manual.


Magrita,  I am nervous about going to sleep now and I am very careful what I watch on TV as that seems to make the night terrors worse.


Trina, thank you for your kind words they were very helpful. I need to get off these terrible drugs.


Ajusta, I am male and 45. I have been trying to add these details to my profile but I can't seem to work out how to update my profile, benzo brain :)


Once again, thank you.

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Those night terrors are a stage that a lot of us go thru.  Don't let them cause you to 'dread the bed'.  Yes, they're upsetting when they occur.  Try to put those experiences past you quickly so you can get back to sleep. 


They're basically just bad dreams, and you're probably just beginning to re-experience dreaming (benzos tend to disrupt norming dreaming).  So these early ones are often highly vivid dreams.  They'll resolve into regular old boring dreams in time.

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Before beginning his taper (during tolerance withdrawal) my partner would sometimes act out his nightmares, which were frequent. 


Every month or two, in the midst of a dream-induced rage, he'd fling himself out of bed or kick the wall, once so hard that he bruised his foot.  We were so concerned that he could seriously injure himself that we removed the bed frame and stacked the box springs and mattress directly on the floor.  We put padding alongside the bed so that he wouldn't keep getting run burns on his knees when he'd hurl himself out of bed. 


Now that he has tapered off of 65% of his original BZD dosage, he's sleeping much more soundly.  His dreams, while vivid, are rarely nightmares, and he never acts them out anymore.  So far, tapering has improved his quality of life tremendously.   

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