Are night terrors the same as nightmares?

By October 10, 2015Sleep

It’s the middle of the night oz report designer 다운로드. Your child is screaming and shouting out in intense fear. It’s a terrifying experience for you to watch and it feels as if there’s nothing you can do to console him. He’s probably having a night terror… fortunately, these are rarely harmful and most children outgrow them by adolescence. Fewer than 2% of adults experience them.

What is a night terror and how does it differ from a nightmare?

A night terror:

  • Is an episode of intense fear.
  • It takes place whilst the person remains asleep.
  • It’s associated with crying, shouting, screaming, kicking or thrashing, fast breathing and a rapid pulse.
  • It can last from 1-45 minutes.
  • It occurs during non-REM sleep (non-dream sleep), about 90 minutes after falling asleep, the person will usually not be able to remember the incident the following morning.
  • It can occur in conjunction with sleep –walking during a night terror, the person will be unaware of your presence, be inconsolable and difficult to awaken.

A nightmare:

  • the person wakes up from their dream.
  • the person can remember aspects of their dream.
  • it occurs during REM sleep (dream sleep), often during the second half of the night.
  • your presence will be a source of comfort to the person.

What causes night terrors?

  • the cause is not fully known, although night terrors tend to run in families.
  • night terrors can be associated with the following medical conditions:
    • Obstructive sleep apnoea
    • Medications affecting the central nervous system
    • Restless leg syndrome
    • An overactive thyroid gland
    • Neurological conditions such as: migraines, stroke, encephalitis, head injuries
  • Factors that can contribute to night terrors include:
    • Fever (especially in children)
    • Sleep deprivation
    • Sleep disturbance from noise or light
    • Stress
    • Sleeping in an unfamiliar place
    • A full bladder
Read  It’s time to (finally) sleep well

What can be done about night terrors?

  • Educate the family/people sharing the home, that night terrors are generally not dangerous.
  • Keep to a regular bedtime routine (going to bed and getting up at the same times each night and morning).
  • Avoid caffeine and stimulants.
  • Consider an ENT opinion where enlarged tonsils or adenoids could be causing sleep apnoea/obstruction during breathing at night .
  • Make the bedroom and surrounding area safe by:
    • keep windows and outside doors locked and install a gate at the top of stairs
  • In the event of a night terror:
    • Stay with the person during the episode
    • Do not try to wake the person up
    • Do not restrain or hold onto the person, unless you can see he/she is in direct danger of hurting
    • Be calm, talk quietly if necessary
    • Block the person from coming in contact with any potentially harmful objects by placing yourself
      between the person and the specific object

When is it necessary to see a doctor about night terrors?

  • When night terrors start in adulthood
  • When night terrors persist beyond early teen years
  • When they pose a safety risk or cause injury
  • When they lead to sleep deprivation
  • If they become more frequent