Nightmares.

29 Jul

A couple of my children have night terrors. We didn’t know anything about them before having kids – so we simply learned by experience and research.
Most kids wake up screaming, but they don’t actually wake up. They can’t really be consoled or awakened to snap out of it. They just cry, thrash around and moan or scream for 20-45 minutes.

As a parent, you feel totally helpless. I usually try to hold my children and pray over them until they calm down.

We have noticed that a night terror is MUCH more likely to happen if our children are EXTREMELY exhausted. In the case when our three-year old doesn’t take a nap or rest all day (which isn’t uncommon) but then is up way past bedtime as well.
The body doesn’t rest well when it’s overly exhausted. (And a side note, your body doesn’t function well either after too much sleep.)

I don’t know if I had night terrors as a kid often. I remember having some recurring nightmares. But I never noticed a pattern of when that would happen, how often, or if it was because I was overly tired.

As an adult now though, it is not uncommon for me to have really awful dreams often. I read in a research article awhile back that if you remember your dreams, you are not sleeping well.

My husband almost never remembers a dream. I almost do every night.

It’s pretty rare that I have a pleasant dream. They are often negative situations, scenarios of choosing a sinful path, extremely scary or laced with my most intense fears.

Saturday night, I was really tired. And we didn’t get to bed until really late. I woke up after an hour not really feeling well. And then I finally fell back asleep only to be awaken a short time later from a terrible nightmare when my daughter fell out of her bed and started crying. Only to fall sleep one more time to be waken from another nightmare completely unrelated to the first by the alarm clock for church.
I slept about 3 hours total. Ugh.

At one point in the night, while laying there — I just started praying and eventually fell back asleep while praying. It was quite weird, but I felt like there was a spiritual battle going on in the room. I felt nauseated, exhausted and weak. It didn’t seem like a coincidence at the time that I was unable to rest because I was plagued with dreams about my worst fears being lived out in disturbing situations.

I have recounted a number of times in scripture when God has used dreams to speak to his people. The story of Joseph in Genesis gives a number of examples, we see accounts in Daniel’s life, and Paul sheds light on this too, just to name a few!

And I spent some time wondering, does God allow nightmares so we can see and recognize our fears more clearly? Does Satan have any influence over our dreams to intensify our struggles and try to hold us captive to sins and fears? Is my own sinful heart of flesh full of anxiety in this world and released in my dreams when I have less control over my thoughts?

I don’t know that I have the answers to those questions, but I thought that it might open up some good dialogue if anyone else has or does struggle with restless sleep or nightmares.

And as a practical application – whatever the cause of terrifying dreams, I am very aware of my fears and I can spend some intense prayer time giving those to the Lord and asking for His peace.

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6 Responses to “Nightmares.”

  1. peacefulwife July 29, 2013 at 7:51 am #

    Kayla,
    My twin sister’s children and my children had night terrors, as well. Beth finally realized that if she took her kids to the potty, they were fine after that. So, eventually, I would just take my children to the potty, ask them to pee. Then they went to bed and we never heard another sound.
    That may not be the cause with your kids, but it is sure worth a try! 🙂

  2. gleniece July 29, 2013 at 1:08 pm #

    Dear Kayla, I understand. My youngest son (age6) had this problem. (I say had because it’s been several months since his last episode.) It is so frustrating to hear them scream or cry so pitifully as if their heart is broken and nothing you do consoles them. When this happened, my husband would usually lay down with him and hold him, talking softly and eventually he would stop and drift back to sleep. Dreams can be weird. I do believe there is a spiritual influence and when I awake from a bad one I immediately pray for help. Know you are not alone in this. I will pray for you too.

    • Kayla Gulick July 29, 2013 at 1:59 pm #

      Thanks Gleniece!

      It is an odd topic — not often do we talk about our dreams. But really, I believe their is a deep spiritual dynamic as well!

  3. Christine July 29, 2013 at 1:10 pm #

    Hi Kayla,

    I too have recently had dreams where I feel like I am fighting a spiritual battle and fighting demons off, etc. Which is quite strange as I a pretty calm person in the daytime. My last dream like that, two demons materialized and (in my dream), I commanded them to leave in Jesus’ name and to go to the foot of the cross. Meanwhile in the background of my dream, I could hear that song “There is power in the name of Jesus, to break every chain..” so weird that my dream had music, but anyway, as soon as i said that the demons disappeared and I woke up very suddenly. I have never spoken with anyone who experienced a similar situation before.

    • Kayla Gulick July 29, 2013 at 2:01 pm #

      I think sometimes we feel funny or talking about dreams because they seem “make believe” but I think there is often significant meaning behind them.

      I wish I could interpret for you — but I just don’t have that kind of wisdom. It sounds like it was an intense dream!!

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