Night terrors or sleep terrors occur more frequently in children (babies, infants and toddlers) although it can affect any age group. Night terrors more often affect children under the age of 5 years of age often peaking at the 3 year age bracket. A young child experiencing a night terror may ‘awaken’ screaming, crying and hysterical and may need to be consoled before falling asleep. Unlike nightmares, children experiencing a night terror do not remember the experience and may go back to sleep immediately after experiencing a night terror.
Childhood Night Terrors
Night terrors are a sleep disorder that affects the early stages of sleep or non-REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. This usually occurs within the first 2 hours of sleep before the child enters the ‘dream stage’ of sleep or REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep.
Night terrors can be distressing for parents as the child may become agitated, appearing emotionally troubled and usually results in screaming, hysteria, sweating and restlessness which may last only a few minutes. Attempting to interrupt the night terror experience in children can cause the child to ‘awaken’ in an anxious, scared and hysterical state.