I am 47 years old and have suffered from nightmares all my life. I don’t have them frequently, on average about once a month. I am also afraid of the dark, which means that when I wake from a nightmare I don’t feel safe until I can find a light-switch. When I am alone in the house (which happens as my husband works shifts) I have to sleep with a light on in the hall.

As a child I had such bad nightmares that my vocal chords would freeze and the only way I could wake a member of my family would be by shaking them at the same time as I was screaming soundlessly - quite disturbing for them as well as me!

My nightmares include predatory animals attacking my home, the day of armageddon and several premonition-type dreams. However, the most frightening ones are generally the ones I can’t remember properly but I am always most afraid of what it is that may be lurking in the shadows when I get up from one of those.

I have read recently that people who suffer regularly from nightmares may be suffering from some mental aberration. As far as I am aware I am a perfectly normal, working woman with a husband and grown-up daughter and son.

I would be grateful for your suggestions as I feel silly still being afraid of the dark at my age!

--Ruth, Age 47, Wellington, NEW ZEALAND

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