Share This Article
What are night terrors? And do you know what causes night terrors? Although sleep terror or night terror is usually seen in children, it is a type of disease that can sometimes occur in adults. Sleep terror is when children wake up screaming, frightened, or shaking within 1 to 2 hours after falling into a deep sleep. Sleep terror, also known as night terrors, is a sleep disorder.
A night terror is also considered parasomnia. Sleep terrors last from a few seconds to a few minutes, but this can vary from person to person and last longer.
Children from 3 to 8 years old are prone to night terrors (1). A child with night terrors may scream, shout and sway in extreme panic, or even jump out of bed. Their eyes will be open, but they are not fully awake. Episodes usually occur early in the night, can last up to 15 minutes, and sometimes occur more than once during the night. Many children experience night terrors, but they do not cause long-term psychological harm to your child.
While sleep terrors affect almost 40 percent of children, they can also be seen in adults. Although sleep terror is seen as a frightening disease, the patient can return to his normal life with various treatment methods. Most children can overcome sleep terrors during their teenage years.
What Causes Night Terrors?
Night terrors are classified as parasomnia. An undesirable behavior or experience during sleep is called parasomnia. Night terrors occur during NREM sleep. NREM sleep is a process in which a person stays between sleep and wakefulness. Night terrors occur during transitions between different sleep stages when you are not awake but not fully asleep. Still, the exact reason underlying this partial awakening is unknown.
1. Breathing Problems
People with many disturbing sleep disorders, including night terrors, are more likely to experience breathing problems while sleeping. For people who have respiratory distress in their sleep, spending extra effort to breathe can also trigger night terrors.
2. Genetic factors
People who have night terrors or sleepwalking often have a family member who does. A small study in 1980 found that 96% of people who experience night terrors have at least one other close family member who used to experience the same.
Another study focusing on identical twins supported this finding. If one person’s identical twin experiences night terrors, it’s very likely that the other will too.
Night terrors and sleepwalking seem to be linked. Both occur during slow-wave sleep, the deepest sleep stages that happen earlier in the day. Some researchers believe that people who experience sleepwalking may have trouble maintaining slow-wave sleep. (2) This makes them susceptible to rapid arousal and increases the likelihood of parasomnia.
4. Other Causes
Most of the time, there is no specific reason for what triggers night terrors. But certain things can play a role, including:
- Sleep apnea
- Restless legs syndrome
- Some drugs
- Mood disorders such as depression and anxiety
- Alcohol use in adults
- Depression or anxiety
- Too much caffeine
You can prevent night terrors by having complete control over your sleep and control dreams. Best way to achieve this is through keeping a dream journal. Dreambook App lets you keep a digital and easy to use journal. With Dreambook, you can categorize and recall your dreams easily!