Night Terrors

Also known as: sleep terrors.

What are night terrors?

Night terrors are episodes of screaming, flailing and intense fear that occur during sleep. They differ from nightmares in that the child remains asleep and usually doesn’t remember the episode. Night terrors are fairly common among children.

What causes night terrors?

The exact cause of night terrors is unclear. People with a family history of night terrors are more prone to get them. They can sometimes accompany other medical problems or occur along with fever, stress or disruptions of the normal sleep schedule.

What are the symptoms of night terrors?

Some common symptoms of night terrors include screaming, wide eyes, disorientation, kicking, thrashing, sitting up in bed, heavy breathing, sweating, rapid heartbeat and dilated pupils. The child frequently has no recollection of the event.

What are night terror care options?

In most cases, night terrors do not require any treatment. The child will grow out of them with time. More concerning or frequent cases of night terrors can be treated with medication, anticipatory awakenings or treating the underlying medical condition.


Reviewed by: Mercedes Bello, MD

This page was last updated on: January 28, 2021 04:24 PM

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