Date
14 December 2018
More people are now bothered by insomnia. All over the world, the number of hours of sleep that people are having is declining, according to a recent study. Photo: Reuters
More people are now bothered by insomnia. All over the world, the number of hours of sleep that people are having is declining, according to a recent study. Photo: Reuters

Insomnia and night terror

Insomnia does not only refer to not being able to fall asleep. People who have difficulties naturally falling asleep or remaining deeply asleep are also sufferers of insomnia.

We sleep and we dream. Sweet dreams are of course welcomed but nightmares caused by work-life pressure can cause night terror if handled improperly.

Night terror is a kind of sleep disorder most common in children. While nightmares are normal physical phenomena, night terror has to do with complicated physical and mental issues. In some serious cases, the night terror is a psychiatric illness.

Izzy is an adult who has been troubled by night terror for over ten years. She could not sleep well as she often dreamed of being chased by monsters and reacted by screaming and flailing, ending up exhausted.

Some patients who experience realistic dreams even refrain from sleeping for days until their bodies fully collapse and repay their sleeping debt only when they must.

Izzy’s biological clock has been disrupted by her irregular sleeping habits. Sleep deprivation is a vicious cycle and becomes the main reason for Izzy’s night terror.

Experts have first made a melatonin prescription to correct her sleeping pattern. Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the enigmatic pineal gland which regulates the biological clock and helps to fall asleep.

However, the night terror is rarely found in adults and so Izzy’s case has to do with mental issues and should be referred to s psychologist.

Apart from the night terror, other sleep-related illnesses include cataplexy, narcolepsy and somnambulism. Surprisingly, 1 percent to 2 percent of adults walk in their sleep.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 3

Translation by John Chui

[Chinese version 中文版]

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