What Are Night Terrors?
Night terrors (sleep terrors) are a sleep disorder in which a person quickly wakes from sleep in a terrified state.
Night terrors are most common in boys ages 5 - 7, although they also can occur in girls. They are fairly common in children ages 3 - 7, and much less common after that. Night terrors may run in families. They can occur in adults, especially when there is emotional tension or the use of alcohol.
What Causes Night Terrors?
The cause is unknown, but night terrors may be triggered by:
- Lack of sleep
- Periods of emotional tension, stress or conflict
Treatment for Night Terrors
In many cases, a child who has a night terror only needs to be comforted.
Reducing stress or using coping mechanisms may reduce night terrors. Talk therapy or counseling may be needed in some cases.
Benzodiazepine medicines (such as diazepam) used at bedtime will often reduce night terrors, but are rarely used to treat this disorder.