What Are Night Terrors? [on November 14, 2019 at 4:15 PM ]

What Are Night Terrors?    [on November 14, 2019 at 4:15 PM ]
Sleep Terrors

Night terrors or sleep terrors are episodes at night that cause great distress and fear. They most generally occur during the first third to half of sleep and rarely during naps. The difference between sleep terrors and nightmares is that during a nightmare the individual wakes up, whereas with night terrors the person stays asleep.

Adults and children alike can experience night terrors. With adults they main remain fragments of the dream in the morning while children likely will not remember anything.

Around 40% of children are affected by sleep terrors and adults is a much smaller percentage. Having these sleep episodes in a child is not a major concern as most generally kids will outgrow these by the time they reach their teen years.

In a study done in 2014 of 7,000 children ages, 8 to 10 showed that those children who were victims of bullying were more likely to have night terrors. In another study of 661 older adults aged 43 to 89 years who has Parkinson’s disease has shown that 3.9 percent of those individuals have had sleep terrors.

Episodes can last from a few seconds to minutes. If there is a safety risk or there is not enough sleep then treatment for night terrors might be required.

Night Terror Symptoms

Sleep terrors can lead to sleepwalking. A few symptoms include:

Screams or shouting
Appear frightened while sitting up in bed
A racing pulse, flushed face
Confused when woken up, hard to wake up
Little or no memory
Possibly aggressive behavior

When Should You See A Doctor?

Generally speaking, sleep terrors are not a concern and kids usually outgrow them. Speak with your doctor if you notice any of the following:

Disrupt the sleep of the child or other family members on a regular basis
Result in functioning the next day
Proceed to occur well into the teen years or start into adulthood
Happen more frequently
Lead to injury

Night Terror Causes

Sleep terrors occur during non-rapid eye movement. It is a sleep disorder that is categorized as a parasomnia, which is a negative experience during sleep. Some typical causes are:

Fatigue and tiredness
Disruption in sleep schedule
Noise or light
Use of the abuse of alcohol or some medications
A full bladder

Underlying medical conditions such as restless leg syndrome, obstructive sleep apnea, anxiety, depression, alcohol use, and some medications can all play a role in causing night terrors.

Having sleep terrors are more common in families with a history of sleepwalking or night terrors. They are more common in women.

An unlikely cause of night terrors is the dysfunction of the thalamus. The thalamus is a small structure in the brain that is thought to play a vital role in sleep-wake cycles. In one study a woman underwent a sleep study to find that there was an increased signal coming from the thalamus.

What Are The Complications?

A few complications can arise from this sleep disorder such as sleepiness during the day, problems with relationships. injury to oneself or someone close by, and disturbed sleep.


Your doctor will review your medical history and ask you some questions regarding your sleep along with giving you an evaluation. An evaluation will include a physical exam, go over your symptoms and have a sleep study done.

Night Terrors Treatment

Treating this condition depends on if there are any underlying medical conditions present such as a mental condition or sleep disorder

Reduce stress in your life – Your doctor might suggest counselingor cognitive behavior therapy
Anticipatory awakening – This entails waking the person 15 minutes before the person usually experiences the sleep terror than the person will stay awake for a few minutes before trying to fall back asleep.
Medication – The use of medications is not generally used especially in children but certain antidepressants could be beneficial if the individual has depression or anxiety.

Home Remedies

There are a few things that you can do on your own to remedy the night terrors:

Establish a regular relaxing bedtime routine – try taking a warm bath before bed, meditation or reading a book. Make sure your bedroom is comfortable and quiet.
Make your bedroom safe – To prevent any injury lock all windows and doors at night. Any stairways block with a gate. You may want to install alarms on any interior doors
Get enough sleep – Go to bed earlier and at the same time every night. Fatigue is a contributing factor of night terrors
Look for any patterns – Keep a sleep diary and make note of each episode with when it started and for how long. If there is a consistent pattern then anticipatory awakenings may help.

A few good questions to ask your doctor about sleep terrors in children are:

What is the cause?
What kind of tests are needed?
Should I see a specialist?
What is causing the symptoms?
Are there any restrictions?
Is this temporary or permanent?
Do you have any printed material on night terrors?

References: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sleep-terrors/symptoms-causes/syc-20353524

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What Are Night Terrors?    [on November 14, 2019 at 4:15 PM ]
What Are Night Terrors? [on November 14, 2019 at 4:15 PM ]
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