Night Terrors

Night Terrors – Research & Treatments

Night terrors, or sleep terrors, are a parasomnia condition in which the subject reacts to a foreboding sense of fear or terror by screaming, thrashing around or crying. They may also get out of bed and walk or run around, and adults are at a risk of performing violent acts during this time. The subject is still in a sleep like state during night terrors outbursts and cannot be awoken without some difficulty.

The episode can last as long as 20 minutes, after which the subject will either go directly back to REM or deep sleep without ever leaving their sleeping state, or may wake up to extreme confusion. People waking up from a sleep terror may experience amnesia for a short duration following the episode, in which they cannot recall their name, location, or any other distinguishing features of themselves. This usually passes within a couple of minutes.

Night Terrors Are Not The Same As Nightmares

Night terrors (sleep terrors) are often associated with, or definitively considered a nightmare, though they are in fact quite different. Nightmares occur in the REM stage of sleep, and are traditional dreams from which the person experiencing them may recall imagery, sound and/or feelings. Typical nightmares include being chased by someone or something, falling for an inordinate amount of time, or things that the person finds particularly disturbing or frightful that are often rooted in their sub conscious.

Sleep terrors / night terrors, on the other hand occur before the dream state of REM sleep, in the phase just before deep sleep called the slow-wave sleep phase. The person is not incited to the outburst through any form of imagery or sound that a nightmare would include, but simply a deep sense of terror and fear that they cannot shake.

Sleep Terrors Common In Children, Not In Adults

Sleep terrors are most common in children, especially very young children under the age of 7. Children with sleep terrors are also likely to talk in their sleep and sleepwalk, or develop these parasomnias later after they stop having sleep terrors. As many as 15% of children experience sleep terrors. Adults can also develop sleep terrors, though this is uncommon and is usually brought upon by a deeply traumatic or emotional event, or is developed in adults with a long history of depression, anxiety or bipolar disorders. Adults with sleep terrors should consult a psychiatrist, who should be able to help them deal with the issues that are plaguing them and causing the terrors. As few as 2% of adults experience sleep terrors. There is no link between sleep terrors in children and emotional disorders, or disorders that will be developed later in life.

What Are Common Causes Of Sleep Terrors?

Sleep terrors, like many other parasomnias are deeply linked to genetics, and those with a family history of sleep terrors are more likely to have them as well. Sleep terrors share the same root causes as sleepwalking, as these can include head injuries, hyperthyroidism, encephalitis, stress, other sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea, fevers and medications.

Signs & Symptoms of Night Terrors

Sleep terrors are easily detectable in most cases, as the person experience them will often let out loud screams or wails that will likely wake up most people in the household. It can be a scary and traumatic experience for parents or loved ones to see their children or partners in such distress, as the look of fear and terror is often easily visible on the person’s face. It should be remembered that sleep terrors are not dangerous, and many times the victim will not fully recall the experience, but go through feelings of disorientation and embarrassment more than anything else.

It is important not to try and wake the victim from their state, but to remain by them until it passes. This gives them comfort when they snap out of it, and assures you that they are not getting up and moving about while still in the state, potentially harming themselves or others in the process.

Do They Require Any Treatment?

Sleep terrors do not often require any treatment or tests, and in most children they pass before their teen years. If the problem persists, or in the case of sleep terrors in adults, it may be helpful to talk to your doctor or consult a sleep specialist. An overnight sleep study, called a polysomnogram will be advised, which will help determine any other sleep related factors that may be contributing to the sleep terrors, and how they can be limited. The polysomnogram monitors brain wave activity, and can chart the areas of the brain that are being actively used prior to an episode.

The majority of parasomnias , including night terrors, occur in the stage before deep sleep, and taking measures to achieve deep sleep faster, and remain in it once there can limit the number of parasomnia occurrences. Having proper sleeping conditions, limiting any caffeine intake or the intake of any other stimulants, and having routine bed times can all lead to quicker and better quality deep sleep.

The American Sleep Association (ASA) was founded in 2002 by a group of Sleep Professionals seeking to improve Public Health by increasing awareness of the importance of Sleep in ensuring a high quality of life, as well as the dangers of Sleep Disorders. Currently, our focus is on resolving and alleviating InsomniaNarcolepsySleep Apnea, Sleep Deprivation and Snoring. Through the Research of others, the ASA Members and Board are committed educating millions of people on the importance of sleep health.

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  • I'm off work with a broken leg I've had night terrors in and off for maybe 30 years but since off work they've increased significantly at least 3 to 4 nights a week I'm exhausted with it

  • After being in relationship with my husband for nine years,he broke up with me, I did everything possible to bring him back but all was in vain, I wanted him back so much because of the love I have for him, I begged him with everything, I made promises but he refused. I explained my problem to someone online and she suggested that I should rather contact a spell caster that could help me cast a spell to bring him back but I am the type that never believed in spell, I had no choice than to try it, I mailed the spell caster, and he told me there was no problem that everything will be okay before three days, that my ex will return to me before three days, he cast the spell and surprisingly in the second day, it was around 4pm. My ex called me, I was so surprised, I answered the call and all he said was that he was so sorry for everything that happened, that he wanted me to return to him, that he loves me so much. I was so happy and went to him, that was how we started living together happily again. Since then, I have made promise that anybody I know that have a relationship problem, I would be of help to such person by referring him or her to the only real and powerful spell caster who helped me with my own problem and who is different from all the fake ones out there. Anybody could need the help of the spell caster, his email is } ) you can email him if you need his assistance in your relationship or anything.

  • Hello,
    My name is Kathy.
    I need some advice and comfort - I recently experienced this month 2 nights of sleep terror. All I do is within the first hour of sleep I start screaming like someone is after me. Last night I actually jumped off my bed to the floor in fear and then apparently got back in bed in sleeping position.

    I know this doesn't sound like allot or a big deal to some people, but personally it has scared me to no end. I am now completely terrified of going to sleep.

    I've always had nightmares, some form of Insomnia. My father suffers from sleep terrors and I have suffered from Pure OCD over these past 9 years. And I've had the occasional night terror throughout my life. I have recently been diagnosed with anemia and I have had symptoms of sleep apnea.

    Again I know it doesn't sound like much to be freaked out over. But I need guidance and comfort. I'm so scared I'm losing it, and I keep looking up things on google which doesn't help.

  • I have night terrors. My poor family. It usually occurs in the first half hour of going to sleep. Most of the time I do not rememberthat I had one. My husband does wake me which is frightening. Many times I cannot go back to sleep because of fear of having another one. I have remembered some of my terrors in which I wake in my dream to a man from the early 1900's in a overcoat with a top hat standing next to my bed. My sister went to a medium who told her that I am fortunate to have transference. Supposedly according to her my spirit transfers to the other realm and this man is my grandfather that died when my mother was 12. She says that he comes back with me to make sure I am okay coming back. She told me to tell him not to come back with me. I did try that but now I still have terrors without him. Any suggestion on how to stop these nights let me know. They have definitely become more frequent and intense since I have become older. Btw my father had these too so they do run in families. Isn't that great, not really

  • December 25,2O17
    I'm LLL after a couple of horrifying relationships I have found the man if my dreams. But not for long if THIS keeps happening. Last night I had what I assume to be a night terror. It is not unlike me to yell out during my sleep. I have awful nightmares and have since age 6. Lately I have been under a lot of stress and I have kept it to myself so as to not freak Tom out. Although i have yelled out un my sleep since we meet. It has gotten worse. I actually struck him and the dog last night. I am VERY against violence,seeing i was I two abusive relationships . Tom has never hit me or made me fear him. He now fears me and is VERY VERY MAD at me. I dont remember what or why I did this. I only have what he has told me. After he told me to pack my things and leave. My heart sank and my mind is dealing with the pain of scaring him and the dog. Never in my 45 yrs have i harmed another person. I know I did not this on PURPOSE. He now says i am capable of hurting him. And if it happens again he will breath the fuck out of me. I as my normal self am NOT VIOLENT. I LOVE HIM AND WOULD DIE BEFORE I HARMED him. I know in his heart he know this to be true. But he is so angry at me he refused to talk about it. What do I do. I can't lose him . If I Do I'm done with everything. I AM NOT A VIOLENT PERSON. AND I WANT TO MAKE THIS RIGHT. HELP ME PLEASE.

  • The man of your dreams would never tell you to pack your bags and leave nor tell you he would beat the **** our of you. Night terrors are a condition and out of your control. He is suppose to love you with the food & the bad. Walk with you along the way.
    My 8yo son has night terrors and it’s very traumatizing for me to go through with him. & he has no recollection at all. Sometimes they last 20 mins. He can’t help it... but I can be there with him through it, & I always will be.

  • The man of your dreams would never tell you to pack your bags and leave nor tell you he would beat the **** out of you. Night terrors are a condition and out of your control. He is suppose to love you with the good & the bad. Walk with you along the way.
    My 8yo son has night terrors and it’s very traumatizing for me to go through with him. & he has no recollection at all. Sometimes they last 20 mins. He can’t help it... but I can be there with him through it, & I always will be.

  • I just several this night. Am failing to call them nightmares or terrors. They started to manifest when i was thirty years old am now 37. I sometimes dreams someone or something fierce and in the process of being attacked, i start screening. Or sometimes i hold and idea during the dream which i don't like, something like disagreeing with something or to someone's opinion and they I screen. When I start screening, I am conscious of my sorounding. When i have a spouse on the same bed, i long for her to help me out by waking me up because am always in a panicking state. I don't desire it because my brain is able to detect that am panicking and i sleep with fear but it keeps on coming. Unfortunately, am living in a country where psychiatrics are had to find. In our country, such problems are considered spiritual, as such people seek help from churches and witch doctors a thing i either don't support. I am in Malawi, really bothered. I wonder if someone can help me here.

  • Hi all, well I have read through these and while there are a lot of people with these there does not seem to be any solutions posted. My 26 year old son has had these for years, they come and go but are more frequent now. Hoping to find a solution.

    • You should read my comment Marty. Your son needs to identify the triggers that set the terrors in motion. Trust me he has them and might not understand them fully yet. He is the same age I was when I finally figured it out. For starters he needs to sit and write it all down. Every feeling he has from the moment he goes to lay down to the moment he wakes, absolutely everything.
      It is time for him to be free of it, but it will never leave him.

  • I see all these comments and nobody truly knows how to stop these things.
    I know how to stop them, but this is only my knowledge, each person is different.
    At the age of 9 I started to be plagued by these pavor nocturnus, night terrors.
    I see article after article saying that the sufferers don't recall these things, they are wrong. There was a woman above my posting who said a medium told her it was a gift. This is not a gift, this is indeed a vision into a hell that can't be described. Each is different, mine I could describe in vivid detail but mine won't be yours.
    Trust me when I say this, whatever you meet in the inbetween isn't a friend, a loved one, a guide. You are seeing a world not meant for the eyes of man. If you are god fearing then this will not sit well with you but you now see the demons that exist in the corners of the earth unreachable by human senses.
    I am rambling and I'm not helping much with what I am saying so let me get back on track.
    How do you stop these night terrors?
    Become aware of your triggers into this. You already know them, you sense them the second you lay your head to sleep. Do not ignore them, make yourself stand up no matter how tired you are.
    I will tell you my triggers so maybe you can understand yours. My body is heavy, I feel like my hands are of incredible size. Every single fiber of my body can be felt and it is heavy beyond words.
    This is sleep paralysis people, you will feel it as your body slips into the terrors. Fight that urge to sleep. Sleep doesn't take that away.
    Each person is different. What do you feel when you are slipping? What hell is your mind going into slowly as you lay there?
    Ask yourself these questions truly.
    Know what you are feeling. Now take that knowledge and instead of allowing your body to rest when those triggers happen, get up.
    Get up and move and take your mind away from them. Do whatever makes you happy and let your mind drift far from those thoughts, far from those triggers. It might take 10 minutes, it might take 2 hours. Listen to your body, listen to your mind, let it all go and you will find rest without the descent into the shadow hell.

    Like I said, each is different but we all suffer this. My triggers aren't yours, but ask yourself..... What are your triggers? Answer that question and take control of your life. I'm going night terror free for 10 years now, but they try to take me several times a week. I choose to stand up and change it. Will you?