Sleep Centers of Middle Tennessee


Night Terrors

Night terrors is a phenomenon occurring during deep (stage 3) sleep. This disorder is characterized by regular episodes of screaming, yelling, or crying during sleep. This disorder can often be confused with other disorders such as REM behavior disorder, sleeptalking, or sleepwalking. The key features of nigh terrors are: 1) it occurs in deep sleep, 2) it involves manifestation of extreme fear (i.e., screaming, yelling), 3) the patient is usually not easily aroused from this state,  4) the patient can not recall these events upon being awakened, and 5) the patient is not easily consoled upon awakening. Night terrors usually occurs more during the first half of the night, since deep sleep occupies a higher percentage of that portion of the sleep phase. Night terrors occurs more frequently in children, and in some cases carries over into adulthood. Night terrors can be exacerbated by other sleep disorders (such as OSA), sleep deprivation, substance use/medications, or stress. It can be diagnosed by a sleep study, and is treated in many cases using medication.
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