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Have you ever wondered: what is the difference between nightmares and night terrors? Nightmares and night terrors, also known as sleep terrors, are part of a group of sleep disorders called parasomnias. Parasomnias can be categorized according to the presence of unwanted experiences that occur during sleep or sleep-wake transitions.
Most people do not know the difference between a nightmare and a night terror.
They are confused with each other. So let’s see what is nightmare and what is night terror first. What are night terrors vs nightmares?
What Is Nightmare?
Nightmares are vividly realistic dreams that become disturbing as they progress and result in waking from sleep. Nightmares frequently involve imminent danger or disturbing themes, and when they awaken, they cause feelings of fear, shame, or anxiety.
Nightmares are widespread and impact people at various stages of their lives, with 50-85 percent of adults experiencing occasional nightmares. However, it is particularly common in childhood and peaks between the ages of 5-10.
While it is common to have intermittent nightmares, a small percentage of people experience chronic and recurrent nightmares, resulting in inadequate sleep, distress, and disruption. This is known as the nightmare condition, and it affects 2-7 percent of children and around 4% of adults.
What Is Night Terror?
Night terrors are characterized by screams and tossing motions, as well as acute panic. They usually last from seconds to a few minutes and begin while you are still asleep.
A person experiencing night terrors can move around, leading to episodes of sleepwalking and, if restrained, aggressive behavior. When awake, the person may be confused, disoriented, and unable to remember the night terror event while fully awake.
Children with a family history of night terrors are at higher risk, suggesting that the disorder is genetic.
What Is The Difference Between Nightmares And Night Terrors?
What is the difference between a night terror and a nightmare? Although both nightmares and night terrors can be frightening and cause sleep disturbances, they are not synonymous conditions. The main difference between nightmares and night terrors is the way they occur during the sleep cycle.
- Confusion: People are often confused when they wake up after a night of terror. After a nightmare, people tend to wake up.
- Amnesia: Nightmares occur in dream states and awakening is a wake-up call. The dreamer awakens from the nightmare and recalls information, but the person experiencing the sleep terror episode stays asleep. Children usually do not remember anything about sleep terrors in the morning. Adults may recall a dream fragment they had during a sleep terror.
- Degree of fear: During a night terror, the patient will appear frightened. Nightmares, although distressing, cause less intense fear.
- Movement: Nightmares occur during REM sleep and limbs are paralyzed. Movement is not restricted during night terrors and is often accompanied by sleepwalking.
- Timing: Nightmares usually occur later in the night when the brain reaches the REM stage of the sleep cycle. Night terrors, on the other hand, usually occur within the first three hours of sleep.
Now, you learn the difference between sleep terrors and nightmares. You will know which one you experience. If you want to be in complete control over your dreams and nightmares, we recommend keeping a dream journal. The best digital way to keep track of your dreams is through Dreambook App. in Dreambook, you can write down your dreams during the day, and you can access your journal from all of your devices.
I thought nightmares and night terrors were the same thing. But while there is movement in night terrors, we remain motionless in nightmares. And I’ve experienced both. My nightmares were caused by my irregular sleep hygiene, while night terrors were caused by genetics.