Insomnia and Disturbing Dreams: Waking up in a Panic

My internal alarm clock has not disappeared. It has become more complicated. I no longer deal with dreams that are exhausting. I am currently dealing with dreams that startle me awake and leave me in a panic. The exhausting dreams suddenly do not seem so bad. Give me back the exhausting dreams and take these away, please.

Insomnia is bad enough, but I am accustomed to waking up several times throughout the night. I can handle that. The problem is waking up in a panic is much different than simply waking up for no reason. When you are already exhausted thanks to a lack of sleep, feeling panicked when first waking makes it much worse.

Panic attack or reaction to a dream?

I have woken up in full-blown panic attacks, and I know the difference. Waking up from a disturbing dream is similar, but different. It is a brief period of shock from not realizing that whatever happened in the dream is not real. During the few minutes when you do not realize you are awake, the dream seems real. It takes a minute to wake up enough to sort out the difference between reality and the dream.

While my mind grapples to figure out what is real and what is not, there is a brief period of absolute panic. I am not talking about dreams where you dropped your ice cream on the sidewalk. I am talking about the kind of dreams where something really awful has happened. Those dreams are disturbing, and it is even more disturbing when you wake up thinking it has really happened. It is not a panic attack. It is a reaction to a bad dream.

Consequences of waking up in a panic

Waking up in a state of panic sets the tone for the rest of the day. I am on edge and jumpy. This is complicated by a lack of sleep. The exhaustion already makes me a bit paranoid. Add in the startled reaction to the dream and it creates a sense of dread that lingers throughout the day.

Exhaustion causes a lack of focus and makes it hard to concentrate. When you pair that with a sense of dread, it further erodes the ability to concentrate. As of late, I have had plenty of days when I could not focus long enough to get anything done. This is a big problem. I have spent too many days jumpy and in a fog. My mind reels and it adds to my paranoia and sense of dread. The complications complicate themselves until it is all too complicated to attempt to unpack in a state of exhaustion.

Waiting for the disturbing dreams to disappear

Since I have no control over my dreams, my only option is to wait it out and try to maintain my sanity. Insomnia causes stress. Stress causes insomnia. Disturbing dreams cause exhaustion and stress, and the cycle continues.

While I stumble through what seems like endless days of exhaustion, all I can do is keep my fingers crossed that it resolves itself sooner rather than later. Have you experienced dreams disturbing enough to jolt you awake? How did you cope with it? I am seeking answers, so please share your experience with me.

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