Home > Disorders & Problems > Night Terrors

Night Terrors

By: Wendy Jacob - Updated: 15 Jun 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Night Terrors Parasomnias Childhood

Night terrors can be distressing not only to the sufferer but also to anyone observing or trying to help. Victims of night terrors may appear severely upset, terrified and even be screaming with fright. Although confused and upset, any efforts to comfort are futile as the sufferer is unable to escape from the horrifying reality of their dream world.

Night terrors are not the same as dreams as they happen during Deep Sleep. They are more likely to occur during the first third of the night during Stages 3 or 4 sleep. Because the sufferer is deeply asleep, they are unlikely to recall the experience in the morning. They do not respond easily to efforts to wake them or any attempts at communication. If they are woken, they may be disorientated and have little memory of the content of their dream or their experience.

Some sufferers are more distressed from being woken than being left alone. There are reports that the wakening leaves them partially immersed in their trauma. Most traumas last up to half an hour but some may go on longer. Children usually grow out of night terrors but some take longer and can cause the child to be fearful of sleep or go on to suffer other sleep problems.

Night Terror is known as a Parasomnia. These are behaviours that disrupt sleep and are more common in childhood. Parents and children are often understandably frightened by the experience and feel helpless and confused. Most people find that once they understand what is happening they feel reassured and the problem resolves with age.

Childhood Stress

There is a suggestion that Night Terrors may be related to stress and this is not always easy to recognise in children. Being unable to express worries or being under pressure may make the mind use sleep as a way of expressing distress.

Experts advise making sure that sufferers have enough sleep and try to identify any stressful factors in their life. Disruptive sleep may lead to Sleep Deprivation and consequently more time will be spent in the sleep state that is related to the disorder.

Alcohol and drugs should be avoided as these interfere with the normal balance between each sleep stage. Alcohol and other imbalances in daily life may also affect sleep quality and it is important to look at any other causes.

Night Terrors are alarming for parents who feel helpless when their desire to comfort may appear to do more harm than good. By trying to understand the condition and making sure that the child is safe and that any other problems in their life are recognised, they may find reassurance in the fact that most children grow out of Night Terrors unharmed.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • Insomniacs
    Re: What Happens at a Sleep Lab?
    Sleepless in Stockpo - Your Question:I have an 8 month old who I cosleep with and since becoming a mum am struggling with…
    7 December 2017
  • Sleepless in Stockpo
    Re: What Happens at a Sleep Lab?
    I have an 8 month old who I cosleep with and since becoming a mum am struggling with insomnia. I feel like I've tried everything!…
    6 December 2017
  • Ruggero
    Re: Dehydration and Insomnia
    Causality here can easily trick our minds. An inverse association between thirst and insomnia is known. This does not necessarily mean…
    28 October 2017
  • Lizzy Lu
    Re: Dehydration and Insomnia
    I suffer from pulmonary aspiration and can only handle about a cup of liquids per day. I have been chronically dehydrated since March,…
    28 July 2017
  • princess baby saedie
    Re: Feeling Too Cold to Sleep
    At night I can't sleep. I look up somuch stuff to help. I just got out of a brace about a week ago from spraining my ankle. I've…
    27 July 2017
  • Joiseyg
    Re: Dehydration and Insomnia
    Being dehydrated makes me feel exhausted so I usually drink water when I'm at that point. I drink 40-60 oz a day and have had a hard…
    10 September 2016
  • Insomniacs
    Re: Sleeping Pills - Addiction and Withdrawal
    Mary - Your Question:I was diagnosed with an Auto Immune disease in 2005 and was placed on large doses of…
    7 September 2016
  • Mary
    Re: Sleeping Pills - Addiction and Withdrawal
    I was diagnosed with an Auto Immune disease in 2005 and was placed on large doses of Prednisone, along with other…
    7 September 2016
  • Insomniacs
    Re: Sleeping Pills - Addiction and Withdrawal
    Twisty - Your Question:I have been taking zoplicone for almost. 3 yrs and want to stop how do withdraw from the…
    23 August 2016
  • Twisty
    Re: Sleeping Pills - Addiction and Withdrawal
    I have been taking zoplicone for almost. 3 yrs and want to stop how do withdraw from the pills in a safe and…
    22 August 2016
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the Insomniacs website. Please read our Disclaimer.