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A case of adult night terrors

Theodoros Mazarakis

Department of Counseling and Clinical Psychology, National Dong Hwa University, Hualien, Taiwan

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Night terrors are intense, often traumatic, and potentially dangerous events during nonrapid eye movement sleep; their etiology remains unknown and different protocols of variable efficacy have addressed the physiological and psychological aspects of this disorder. We present the case of a 58-year-old man who was treated for night terrors. The patient associated his disorder with persistent nightmares. After diagnosis with the use of ambulatory polysomnography and infrared video recording, sleep-education sessions were used to clarify the differences between the nightmares and night terrors, and help the patient reconceptualize the physiological and psychological dimensions of his condition. The patient exhibited marked improvement after intervention. This study highlights the benefits of providing an alternative explanatory model for a patient who has constructed a dysfunctional explanation of his condition. The study also offers some considerations about the nature of patient perceptions and their impact on the disorder.

Night terrors; Nightmares; Sleep education


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