Effective Treatment for Night Terrors

One sleep disorder that can be frightening and disruptive is night terrors. Their symptoms include fits of extreme terror and terror that occur while they sleep, frequently accompanied by thrashing, screaming, & a feeling of being in danger. Although they affect children more frequently, adults can also experience night terrors. We will look at night terror symptoms, causes, and available treatments in this post. We’ll also offer advice on how to deal with night terrors for both individuals & parents.

Key Takeaways

  • Night terrors are episodes of intense fear and panic that occur during sleep.
  • Night terrors differ from nightmares in that they occur during non-REM sleep and are not remembered upon waking.
  • Seeking treatment for night terrors is important to improve quality of life and prevent potential injury during episodes.
  • Medications for night terrors have potential side effects and should be carefully considered with a healthcare provider.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy and relaxation techniques have shown promise in managing night terrors.

A kind of parasomnia that happens during non-REM sleep is called a night terror, sometimes referred to as a sleep terror. Night terrors are usually not remembered by the person experiencing them, in contrast to nightmares, which usually happen during REM sleep and are frequently recalled upon waking. This may make it challenging to comprehend what is going on and may cause anxiety & confusion. Screaming or crying, rapid breathing and heart rate, sweating, a sudden and terrifying awakening from sleep, extreme fear or panic, & physical movements like kicking or thrashing are all common signs of night terrors. Between a few minutes to thirty minutes can pass between these episodes, and the person experiencing them may not be easy to comfort or console. While there are a number of potential contributing factors, the precise cause of night terrors remains unclear.

These include stress, certain drugs or substances, genetics, sleep deprivation, irregular sleep schedules, and sleep. It is crucial to understand that night terrors are not a sign of a mental health condition nor are they brought on by psychological or emotional problems. Although nightmares and night terrors are frequently confused, there are important distinctions between the two.

Nightmares are intense, frequently unsettling dreams that happen during REM sleep & are typically recalled when you wake up. While they can be frightening, unsettling, & distressing, they usually do not have the same physical symptoms as night terrors. On the other hand, intense fear & panic are the hallmarks of night terrors, which happen during non-REM sleep. The person having a night terror may look awake, but in reality, they are still asleep and not aware of their surroundings.

Treatment Type Success Rate Duration of Treatment Side Effects
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy 80% 6-12 weeks Minimal
Medication 50% Varies Drowsiness, Headaches
Hypnotherapy 70% 4-8 sessions None reported

They are not completely conscious & are difficult to wake up or comfort, even though they may scream, cry, & make physical movements. It’s critical to distinguish between nightmares and night terrors because there may be differences in the approaches to treatment for each. Night terrors may need more specialized interventions, but nightmares can frequently be controlled with cognitive techniques & relaxation techniques. Though experiencing night terrors can be upsetting for the sufferer and those close to them, treatment should be sought if the episodes are seriously interfering with day-to-day activities. Night terrors can disrupt the quality of sleep, which can result in daytime drowsiness, difficulty focusing, and poor performance in daily tasks.

In addition, parents or partners who witness night terror episodes may find them frightening & upsetting. It’s critical that parents realize that they have nothing to do with their child’s night terrors and that getting help can allay their worries and support their child. If left untreated, night terrors can last into adulthood and still interfere with daily activities and sleep. They could even raise the chance of getting hurt when kicking or thrashing fits occur in certain situations. By managing and lowering the frequency and severity of night terrors, seeking treatment can enhance both life quality and overall sleep.

A prescription for medication may be given in certain situations to help control night terrors. These drugs could be antidepressants like tricyclic antidepressants or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), or they could be benzodiazepines like clonazepam or diazepam. The benefits of employing medication to treat night terrors include the possibility of lowering the frequency and severity of episodes, enhancing the quality of sleep, & easing the suffering of the sufferer and their loved ones. Medication can help temporarily and is especially useful if night terrors are seriously interfering with day-to-day activities.

When taking medication for night terrors, there are drawbacks to take into account as well. Some drugs may cause side effects like fatigue, vertigo, or behavioral or emotional changes. Medication might not work for everyone, and it might not deal with the underlying issues that cause night terrors. To choose the right medication and dosage & to keep an eye out for any possible side effects, it’s critical to collaborate closely with a healthcare provider. Therapy that focuses on recognizing & altering unfavorable thought patterns and behaviors is called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). It has been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of many mental health issues, such as insomnia and anxiety disorders.

Night terrors can also be treated with CBT. Techniques like imagery rehearsal therapy, relaxation training, and sleep hygiene education may be used in conjunction with CBT to treat night terrors. The chance of having night terrors can be decreased by teaching people how to unwind mentally & physically before bed. Rewriting the story of a persistent nightmare or night terror to produce a more positive result is the goal of imagery rehearsal therapy. To encourage higher-quality sleep, sleep hygiene education focuses on creating wholesome sleeping routines & habits. The effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for night terrors varies based on the patient & the intensity of their symptoms.

But studies have indicated that CBT can be a useful therapeutic approach, especially when paired with other tactics like medication or lifestyle modifications. Different relaxation techniques can help manage night terrors in addition to cognitive behavioral therapy. Before going to bed, these methods can help people unwind mentally and physically, which lowers the risk of night terrors and improves the quality of their sleep. Progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, deep breathing exercises, and mindfulness meditation are a few relaxation methods that might be helpful. Slowly inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth while concentrating on the sensation of the breath is the practice of deep breathing.

By tensing & then relaxing each muscle group in the body, progressive muscle relaxation helps to ease tension & promote relaxation. In order to induce relaxation, guided imagery entails picturing a tranquil and serene setting, like a beach or a forest. It is important to accept thoughts and feelings without passing judgment while practicing mindfulness meditation. To create a routine, encourage relaxation, & improve the quality of your sleep, it’s critical to practice these relaxation techniques frequently—ideally right before bed.

There are a number of natural treatments for night terrors, however there is little proof of their efficacy. These treatments include dietary modifications, such as avoiding caffeine and large meals right before bed, aromatherapy, such as essential oils of lavender or chamomile, and herbal supplements, such as valerian root or chamomile. Although these remedies may be useful for some people in controlling their night terrors, it is crucial to proceed cautiously and seek medical advice before beginning any new treatment. Not everyone will benefit from natural remedies, and they may have side effects or interact with medications in unexpected ways.

Also, it’s critical to keep in mind that natural remedies should be used in addition to evidence-based treatments, such as medication or therapy, rather than as a substitute for them. There are a few lifestyle adjustments that may help avoid night terrors in addition to getting treatment & using relaxation techniques. These adjustments may improve the quality of sleep & lessen the chance of night terrors.

A consistent sleep schedule, a calming nighttime routine, a cozy sleeping environment, abstaining from stimulating activities or drugs right before bed, and stress management are a few lifestyle adjustments that may be helpful. Prioritizing sleep & establishing a conducive sleep environment are crucial for encouraging relaxation and sound sleep. When their child experiences episodes of night terrors, parents of those children may feel helpless and upset. It is crucial for parents to realize that their child does not have night terrors because of anything they have done, and that getting help can help and relieve their child.

Keeping composed during episodes, making sure the child is safe during thrashing or kicking episodes, offering consolation & assurance following the episode, and creating a regular bedtime routine are some coping mechanisms for parents of children who experience night terrors. Parents who have experienced night terrors may find it beneficial to ask other parents or professionals for support. It’s crucial to give a thorough explanation of the symptoms and how they affect day-to-day functioning when speaking with a medical expert about night terrors. Accurate diagnosis and selection of the best course of treatment can be facilitated by this for the physician.

It’s important to have an honest and open discussion with the doctor regarding treatment options for night terrors. Some questions to ask include:- What are the possible benefits and risks of medication for night terrors?- Are there any non-medication treatment options that may be effective?- How long does treatment typically last, and what can be expected in terms of improvement?- Are there any lifestyle changes or relaxation techniques that may be helpful in managing night terrors? Although there are treatments available to help manage & lessen the impact of night terrors, they can still be a disturbing and disruptive sleep disorder. To enhance sleep quality, lessen discomfort, and avoid potential consequences from untreated night terrors, seeking treatment is crucial. Among the many strategies for treating night terrors are medication, cognitive behavioral therapy, relaxation methods, natural cures, and lifestyle modifications.

It’s critical to collaborate closely with a medical expert to identify the best course of action for treatment and to offer sympathy and understanding to those who are experiencing night terrors and the people who love them.

If you’re looking for effective treatment options for night terrors, you may also be interested in exploring the impact of mattresses on sleep quality. A good mattress can significantly improve your sleep experience and potentially reduce the occurrence of night terrors. Truvva offers a range of high-quality mattresses designed to provide optimal comfort and support, ensuring a restful night’s sleep. Check out their selection of mattresses here to discover how investing in the right mattress can contribute to better sleep and potentially alleviate night terrors.


What are night terrors?

Night terrors are a type of sleep disorder that causes a person to suddenly wake up in a state of extreme fear or panic. They usually occur during the first few hours of sleep and can last for several minutes.

What are the symptoms of night terrors?

The symptoms of night terrors include sudden waking up with a feeling of intense fear or panic, sweating, rapid heart rate, rapid breathing, and sometimes screaming or crying.

What causes night terrors?

The exact cause of night terrors is not known, but they are believed to be related to an over-arousal of the central nervous system during sleep.

Who is at risk for night terrors?

Night terrors can occur in people of all ages, but they are most common in children between the ages of 3 and 12.

How are night terrors diagnosed?

Night terrors are usually diagnosed based on a person’s symptoms and medical history. A sleep study may also be conducted to rule out other sleep disorders.

What is the treatment for night terrors?

Treatment for night terrors may include improving sleep hygiene, reducing stress and anxiety, and in some cases, medication. Cognitive-behavioral therapy may also be helpful in managing night terrors.

Can night terrors be prevented?

While there is no guaranteed way to prevent night terrors, maintaining a regular sleep schedule, reducing stress and anxiety, and avoiding certain medications and substances before bedtime may help reduce the frequency and severity of night terrors.

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