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Night time attacks


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I'm having these episodes at night that are so scary. After I manage to doze off I wake a couple hours later with a strong push pull feeling in my head, my face is burning up, my mind is racing like a movie on fast forward, I see colored patterns (like red spores or purple blobs), my heart starts racing, and I have negative thoughts. I literally feel like Im going to die. This is seconds after waking from a dead sleep. I'm 18 months off. This didn't happen during my taper. It happens about once a week but sometimes more. Anyone have any thoughts? It's really scaring me.
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In looking at chapter 3 of The Ashton Manual, she talks about possible reasons why you're dealing with this.

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.

 

In regular benzodiazepine users REMS and SWS tend to return to pre-drug levels (because of tolerance) but the initial deficit remains. On withdrawal, even after years of benzodiazepine use, there is a marked rebound increase in REMS which also becomes more intense. As a result, dreams become more vivid, nightmares may occur and cause frequent awakenings during the night. This is a normal reaction to benzodiazepine withdrawal and, though unpleasant, it is a sign that recovery is beginning to take place. When the deficit of REMS is made up, usually after about 4-6 weeks, the nightmares become less frequent and gradually fade away.

 

Return of SWS seems to take longer after withdrawal, probably because anxiety levels are high, the brain is overactive and it is hard to relax completely. Subjects may have difficulty in getting off to sleep and may experience "restless legs syndrome", sudden muscle jerks (myoclonus) just as they are dropping off or be jolted suddenly by a hallucination of a loud bang (hypnagogic hallucination) which wakes them up again. These disturbances may also last for several weeks, sometimes months.

 

However, all these symptoms do settle in time. The need for sleep is so powerful that normal sleep will eventually reassert itself. Meanwhile, attention to sleep hygiene measures including avoiding tea, coffee, other stimulants or alcohol near bedtime, relaxation tapes, anxiety management techniques and physical exercise may be helpful. Taking all or most of the dose of benzodiazepine at night during the reduction period may also help.

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I think that what you are describing is hypnagogia. It seems more messed up when you describe it than it actually is. I get this sometimes too, have done for a while. It's cool to sort of watch the mind's eye for a short while. You know there's a will somewhere behind the creation of these images you see, but it feels like you observed it rather than created it. I had it where I was observing this hallucinatory music. What was I hearing if I didn't create it?
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I think that what you are describing is hypnagogia. It seems more messed up when you describe it than it actually is. I get this sometimes too, have done for a while. It's cool to sort of watch the mind's eye for a short while. You know there's a will somewhere behind the creation of these images you see, but it feels like you observed it rather than created it. I had it where I was observing this hallucinatory music. What was I hearing if I didn't create it?

 

I'm interested in hearing more about your interpretation of this but need some clarification, not sure I'm understanding you correctly.  Does it help you to deal with the thoughts and feelings this state creates by assuring yourself that you created them? 

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I think that what you are describing is hypnagogia. It seems more messed up when you describe it than it actually is. I get this sometimes too, have done for a while. It's cool to sort of watch the mind's eye for a short while. You know there's a will somewhere behind the creation of these images you see, but it feels like you observed it rather than created it. I had it where I was observing this hallucinatory music. What was I hearing if I didn't create it?

 

I'm interested in hearing more about your interpretation of this but need some clarification, not sure I'm understanding you correctly.  Does it help you to deal with the thoughts and feelings this state creates by assuring yourself that you created them?

You're right, I didn't make the link very obvious. I've had hypnagogic hallucinations for a long time. It used to be rebound phenomena after drinking too much that would set it off the most, but could just be stress and messed up sleep pattern. I can relate to the description of mind racing like a movie, it's like what I said, it feels like you're observing. He sees coloured patterns and blobs, I've had shapes and stuff but more often cascading images. Detailed, unfamiliar, photographic images of people, animals, objects. I could look away metaphorically speaking... even if I can't wake up I don't have to calmly watch my mind generate this imagery. But almost as soon as you settle into watching it, the images quite literally fade away.

 

I have had more of this stuff in withdrawal than usual. I hope to reassure the OP that as long as they're safely in bed and not prone to having an accident, it's normal to have these weird experiences in the night time. It's probably the purest view you will have of your subconscious, if you're into that sort of thing too.

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So you're putting a positive spin on this experience thus taking the fear out of it and going with it rather than fighting it, I like it.
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