Sleep Terrors and Nightmares
Sleep terrors and nightmares are differentiated by when they occur during the night. Sleep terrors occur during the first half of the night. Nightmares usually occur in the last half of the night.
Sleep terrors are common in children and often quite distressing for the parents. The episode often begins with a "blood-curdling" scream. The person may seem terrified, bolt out of bed and run around the room. The sleeper is inconsolable and the episode just needs to run its course. The person usually cannot recall the event upon awakening.
Nightmares are more common in adults. The sleeper does not get up and move about and will typically recall the dream upon awakening.
- Waking up abruptly with a scream
- Increased heart rate, heavy breathing and increased perspiration
- Unable to remember details of the dream
- You feel scared, anxious, angry, sad or disgusted as a result of your dream
- Causes significant distress or problems with functioning during the day
Children with night terrors generally require only comfort. If a child is unresponsive during night terrors, parents should not try to wake the child, but hold the child firmly and speak soothingly until the episode ends. Usually, the child will ease back to sleep afterwards.
Parents should seek medical care for their child if the night terrors are caused by an underlying condition or are the result of a head injury.
Relaxation techniques or talk therapy may help a person cope with the stress causing the night terrors.
You may be prescribed with a medication to help you relax and sleep without interruption.