Night terror is a parasomnia: undesirable behaviors in sleep. Night Terrors originate with a sudden, loud, blood curdling scream out of sleep typically in the first 3 hours of sleep. Typically a Night Terror will occur at the same time nightly after sleep onset…..as if by setting a clock. The episode is associated with extreme panic followed by prominent activity such as hitting, being inconsolable either occurring when still in bed or walking/running through the house. Intervention by a parent or person typically will increase the duration and intensity of the event. It is recommended that the child/person be soothingly advised to go back to the bedroom if walking or soothingly instructed to fall back to sleep. The person is unaware ( amnestic) of the event in the morning.
Night terrors typically occur in young children but can persist to adulthood (4%).
Causes of Night Terrors
Night terrors are normal physiologic processes in children. The biggest trigger is sleep deprivation. Insuring that the person is achieving sufficient amount of sleep is critical. Also disruptors of sleep must be evaluated: high fevers, sleep disorders . Dr. Gingras will take a thorough history to help establish the trigger.
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