Night Terrors

(redirected from night terror)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Wikipedia.

Night Terrors


Night terrors are episodes in which people typically awaken with a scream and sit bolt upright in bed as if they had just had a nightmare. Unlike in a nightmare, however, the person frequently cannot remember anything except being afraid. Researchers have found that night terrors occur during non-REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is sleep characterized by little or no dreaming activity. They most often occur in children, but may also affect adults. Although the precise cause is unknown, the incidence of night terrors can be seen in a number of adults who appear to be especially prone to them.

This phenomenon has been extensively studied since the 1800s. Even though night terrors more often occur in young children, adults are not immune. There are factors common to adults who suffer from night terrors. It is suggested that stress, lack of sleep, and/or the prolific use of drugs or alcohol are factors. However, nothing has been proven conclusively.

In studies of both children and adults, mild to violent nervous bodily reactions occur before the dreamer awakens from a night terror. Heart and respiratory rates double in seconds, and incidents of muscle twitching, violent physical movements, hitting, yelling, walking out of the bedroom and even the house in an attempt to fight off and escape from attackers have all been documented.

Prior studies of night terrors produced some interesting findings. For instance, in 1899, the British Medical Journal published a study of thirty people who suffered from night terrors. Seventeen of the thirty people suffered from the onset of early heart disease. In the 1960s, a group of twenty-three children, all of whom suffered from night terrors, had their adenoids removed. Twenty-two of these children reported an immediate cessation to the terrors. Studies on adults who suffered from night terrors, known to psychologists back in the 1960s as a “disorder of arousal,” did not find any correlated personality traits. Persons intimately involved in the personal lives of some of those afflicted with night terrors, however, described them as being “tightly wound” individuals. Current psychology might classify such individuals as having Type A personalities.

Mentioned in ?
References in periodicals archive ?
A WIRRAL student fell to his death from a hotel balcony after suffering from night terrors.
A blood curdling scream may signal the onset of night terror with a host of symptoms following that clearly define the disorder: thrashing, rapid heartbeat, profuse perspiring, shouting, babbling, agitation, wild running, a blank stare, tense facial features and an expression resembling one possessed.
Like night terror behavior, sleepwalking can be bizarre, even frightening.
The disruption may occur each time the child reaches that point in the sleep cycle, but the first sleep cycle is generally the deepest, so the first night terror of the night usually occurs then.
The medical term for a night terror is "parasomnia.
Around two per cent of children suffer from these attacks, called night terrors.
Other drugs don't increase the chances of nightmare or night terrors.
Not switching off devices such as tablets and smartphones at bedtime is also leading to overtiredness and contributing to night terrors.
It is frustrating to be unable to help a child who is experiencing a night terror.
Stephen Hutcheson suffers from night terrors while asleep - a frightening condition which leaves him gripped by an uncontrollable sense of dread, panic and a need to escape.
The thing about a night terror is that it isn't a dream.
SLEEP SOLUTION: Don't worry During a night terror, children appear awake and may call out or thrash around but they're in a trance-like state and don't know you're there.