Pavor nocturnus; Sleep terror disorder
Night terrors are most common during the first third of the night, often between midnight and 2 a.m.
- Children often scream and are very frightened and confused. They thrash around violently and are often not aware of their surroundings.
- You may be unable to talk to, comfort, or fully awaken a child who is having a night terror.
- The child may be sweating, breathing very fast (
hyperventilating), have a fast heart rate, and dilated pupils.
- The spell may last 10 - 20 minutes, then normal sleep returns.
Most children are unable to explain what happened the next morning. There is often no memory of the event when they awaken the next day.
Children with night terrors may also
Signs and tests
In many cases, no further examination or testing is needed. If the night terror is severe or prolonged, the child may need a psychological evaluation.
Review Date: 06/02/2009
Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.