Sleep disorders can be prevalent in both children and adults, manifesting in many forms such as nightmares, insomnia, and night terrors. Night terrors, also known as sleep terrors, are accompanied by intense behaviours such as screaming, flailing, sleepwalking, and staring wide-eyed.
Night terrors disrupt our sleep cycle and occur mostly in kids between age four and puberty. This does not mean adults do not have sleep terrors too; data suggests that 2% of adults suffer with sleep terrors, though the underlying causes might differ from children.
Night terrors happen during stages 3 and 4 of the Non-Rapid Eye Movement Sleep which is referred to as the arousal state. At this transition point, we are sleeping at our deepest and this is what makes night terrors detrimental and highly stressful.
Experiencing nightmares may seem similar to night terrors, but they are different. Unlike in nightmares where we wake and often remember the dream and other occurrences, people do not tend to wake during night terrors, and experts advise against waking someone during a night terror as the person, confused, may react violently upon waking suddenly.
What Causes Night Terrors?
As the name suggests, if we assume that night terrors are caused by terror, that is fear, during sleep, we would not be amiss as people who suffer night terrors experience varying levels of fear and this is evident in their behaviour which can include staring wide-eyed, sleepwalking, dilated pupils, kicking and thrashing, sweating and breathing heavily, and other symptoms we expect someone in terror to show.
Underpinning these signs of fear are several contributors which may include sleep deprivation, fever, migraines, anxiety, depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Restless Leg Syndrome, Drug abuse, sleep-apnoea and genetics.
How can CBD Oil Help?
CBD Oil is derived from the Hemp Plant, and the active ingredient, a Cannabinoid, is the oil Cannabidiol, or CBD for short. In helping us with several conditions, CBD binds to receptors of the Endocannabinoid System which are famed for controlling various biological processes of the body including digestion, gene signalling and sleep.
CBD Oil could help in reducing the effects of many of the causes of night terrors, hence it is used by many to ensure a sound night’s sleep. Though there is limited research on the positive effects CBD Oil may have in helping with night terrors, let us see how CBD Oil can help minimise the effects of some of these causes of night terrors...
CBD Oil has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties which make it a substance that helps in reducing various kinds of pain, including chronic pain. A study shows that Cannabidiol, the active ingredient in CBD Oil, has a significant effect on the reduction of anxiety and depression.
Anxiety and pain are two symptoms that accompany Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), a neurological disorder that causes night terrors. RLS affects all ages but is a common cause of night terrors in adults alongside PTSD which is also accompanied by anxiety.
Symptoms of RLS peak in the evenings into the night making sleep uncomfortable. Thankfully, the analgesic and antidepressant attributes of Cannabidiol come into play in reducing anxiety and pain that RLS and PTSD may cause.
In cases of people that are sleep deprived, one of the receptors in our ECS, CB1 Receptors can be signalled by Cannabinoids to promote sedation and allow us to sleep peacefully. The signal for this is sent from the basal ganglia in our brain where the CB1 receptors are in abundance. This may also help in reducing night sweats and night terrors caused by PTSD.
In an experimental study on the effects of CBD on night terrors, dozens attested that they could finally sleep soundly, and their anxiety was reduced.
Other Natural Ways to help reduce Night Terrors
A moderate, daily exercise in the evening enhances a sound night’s sleep. Aside from sleep improvement, exercises help maintain a good heart rate thereby reducing anxiety and stress.
However, note that exercise should be done three hours before sleep as exercise like any other physical activity keeps you alert, and not sleepy. Aerobic exercises such as swimming, jogging, tennis, and dancing promote a relaxed sleep.
Yoga is also a good exercise—physically and mentally.
The environment we sleep in goes a long way to affect our sleep. The hygiene, lighting, noise level, temperature, the softness of the mattress – all make a contribution to a sound night’s sleep. Everybody is different, and so the right environment for you may be soft light rather than complete darkness, or white noise as opposed to silence.
Reduce Caffeine, Alcohol, and Nicotine intake
Caffeine and nicotine increase alertness, so it makes sense to reduce their intake, especially close to the time of your sleep. Alcohol on the other hand might help you get to sleep but will increase your heart rate and keep disrupting your sleep. Aside from keeping you wide awake, if you do fall asleep, caffeine will also affect your sleep quality, and if you take it in excess, (i.e. too many energy drinks) it might result in sweating, nausea, diarrhoea, increased heart and breathing rate, etc.
To give yourself the best chance, make sure you avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol, six hours before bedtime.
Night terrors are a condition caused secondarily by fear but with primary underlying causes including, anxiety, stress, pain, sleep deprivation, RLS, and PTSD. Night terrors are common in kids who will usually outgrow it, however, some adults experience it too.
Although with limited research, Cannabidiol, the active ingredient in CBD Oil, may be of help in reducing the effects of night terror due to its analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-depressant, anti-anxiety and sedative properties.