Night Terrors

A night terror will be a sleeping disorder that will typically occur during childhood, in children with the age from 3 up to 12 years old. A normal sleeping pattern will be divided into two main distinct categories: the non rapid eye movement sleep stage and the rapid eye movement sleep stage.

The first one will have its own four stages and night terrors will most commonly occur during the third and the fourth stage of the non rapid eye movement sleep, happening almost ninety minutes prior the child falls asleep.

Night terrors are not to be confused with nightmares, which will occur during the rapid eye movement sleep stage. They are described as intense episodes of crying or fear during sleep, having a difficulty in awakening the child and calm him or her down.

They are scary episodes that in time will disrupt the sleep of the whole family and if they will continue, will lead to an impair functioning during the day of the parents and of the child due to the lack of restorative sleep.

Almost 6% of children all around the world will suffer from night terrors and there is no gender differential factor that could be accounted for, girls and boys suffering from them in the same number. Ethnicity also is not a common factor that could lead to some interesting causes of night terrors, leaving the medical field with very little information on the development of such fearful episodes.

This type of disorder is prone to resolve itself during adolescence and the main explanation will be the development and maturity that a child will gain by then, leaving them with fewer fears to be resolved than in their childhood. Also, night terrors have been linked to posttraumatic stress disorder, being one of its symptoms but in most of the cases going unnoticed, being mistaken as nightmares. Sleep deprivation, fever, stressful life events and medication that will affect the central nervous system, better known in normal terms as the brain, will be one of the main causes that night terrors will appear.

Tachycardia, an increased heart rate, tachypnea, an increase in the breathing rate and sweating could also take place during such an episode, combined with extreme fear and crying of the child. In comparison with nightmares, where a person will be awakened by such a dream and will remember in detail the event, people that will suffer from night terrors will not have any recollection of such a situation the very next morning and will not e easily awakened during it to be calmed down.

The typical night terror will take place during 90 minutes within sleep and the child will begin to scream and sit up on the bed and after being awakened will be confused, unresponsive to stimuli and disoriented. Most episodes will last up to two minutes and the child will relax only after almost half hour after experiencing it.

child, episodes, eye, movement, night, rapid, sleep, sleep disorders, stage, terrors