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Adult Night Terrors: Why They Happen and What You Can Do

Her heart might be racing, and she might be breathing fast and sweating. She might even sit up or get out of bed and run around. Night terrors happen suddenly and often start with a cry or scream.

'It was me attacking myself': Sleeping with adult night terrors

They usually settle down in minutes, but they can last longer than this. Sometimes they happen every night and then go away for several weeks. If your child is having night terrors along with breathing problems like snoring , talk with your GP about an ear, nose and throat assessment. It can help to keep a sleep diary that describes when and where your child sleeps, and how often she has night terrors.

Fever and certain medications can increase the likelihood of night terrors.

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Night terrors can run in families. The condition often runs in families, so children of parents who had night terrors may be more likely to develop them. Usually no testing is required to diagnose night terrors. Sometimes, we ask families to keep a sleep log to write down when their child goes to bed, wakes up and when night terrors happen.


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In rare cases, we may do a sleep study to confirm that these are night terrors and not nightmares or seizures. Our sleep specialists can determine whether these events are common night terrors or whether they are a symptom of a more serious sleep disorder like sleep apnea. Treatment of night terrors is focused on calming your child back to sleep and keeping him or her safe during the episode. Parents can also follow some night terror prevention strategies. Doctors rarely use medication to treat night terrors in children.

Keep your child from becoming overtired. Sleep deprivation is the most common trigger for night terrors.

Night terrors in children | Raising Children Network

Prompted awakening techniques include:. Night terrors are rarely, but sometimes, a symptom triggered by medical problems, including a disorder of dream sleep, a seizure or a movement disorder. Often, we can help patients and their families learn to manage common night terrors after a meeting with our sleep psychologist. Schedule an appointment with one of our many specialists. Use our easy scheduling tool to book your next Children's Hospital Colorado appointment.

Also see how to book by phone or talk to our pediatric nurses. Learn more about how our center helps kids.

Night terrors and nightmares

Our pediatric sleep specialists answer parents' most pressing questions on everything from bedtime routine to nixing nightmares, providing the insights you need so everyone can get a good night's rest. Menu Conditions and Symptoms. Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Print. What are night terrors? What causes night terrors? Who gets night terrors?

What to do if your child has night terrors

Helpful resources The National Sleep Foundation provides information on healthy sleep as well as sleep disorders. American Academy of Sleep Medicine AASM is the only professional society dedicated exclusively to the medical subspecialty of sleep medicine. Healthy Children provides parents with health information on a variety of health issues and is from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Signs and Symptoms. What are the signs and symptoms of night terrors? Your child is agitated and restless but cannot be awakened or comforted. Your child may sit up or run around. Your child may scream or talk wildly. Your child appears to be anxious, but doesn't mention any specific fears. Your child doesn't appear to realize that you are there, although your child's eyes are open and staring. The episodes begin 1 to 2 hours after going to sleep. Your child may mistake objects or persons in the room for dangers.

The episodes last from 10 to 30 minutes.


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Your child cannot remember the episode in the morning. Tests and Diagnosis. What tests are used to diagnose night terrors? How are night terrors treated? Follow these steps to help your child through a night terror: Try to help your child return to normal, calm sleep. Turn on the lights so that your child is less confused by shadows.

Make soothing comments such as, "You are all right.


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