Sleep Disorder-Night Terrors Disorder

Sleep terrors are classified as a parasomnia — an undesirable behavior or experience during sleep. Sleep terrors are a disorder of arousal, meaning they occur during N3 sleep, the deepest stage of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. Another NREM disorder is sleepwalking, which can occur together with sleep terrors.


Cluster Number:
Wiki Number: PW205
Diagnosis: Sleep Terror Disorder
US Patients: 36.9% at 18 months but 19.7% at 30 months; in adults, 2.2%
World Patients:
Sex Ratio: B+; G; adults, no difference
Age Onset: at age 3½, one per week; frequency tapers off
Brain Area: high voltages in electroencephalography, higher heart rate and muscle tone; frontal lobe epilepsy, thalamic lesions,
Symptoms: 1-10 minutes in the first 3-4 hours of non-REM (early) sleep; usually happen in delta (slow-wave) sleep.
Progression: sit up and yell, time of autonomic arousal (speed-up)seem awake but are confused, sleepwalking, low blood sugar
Causes: PTSD, mental disorders, generalized anxiety disorder, higher frequency among relatives, asthma, constricted nasal passages
Medications: tricyclic antidepressants, benzodiazepines
Therapies: Children usually do not need treatment, diminish with age. Hypnosis may help. Better sleep habits.

Youtube Video:

Five Nights at Freddy’s

Youtube Video:

How to Stop Night Terrors

Amazon or Library Book: The Nightmare Dictionary

Click the book to link or order from Amazon.


The world-wide medical research
reports chosen for each diagnosis 

Clicking each title opens the
PubMed article’s summary-abstract.

  • Psychobiological personality traits of children and adolescents with disorders of arousal
    by Katherine Turner on December 26, 2022

    CONCLUSION: Our pediatric sample with DOA exhibited specific psychobiological personality traits compared to age and gender matched subjects without DOA. These results shed light on new possible etiopathogenetic mechanisms, as TCI traits have been linked to specific genetic variants and brain circuits, like the reward system. Prospective studies are required to assess the effect of targeted psychological/psychiatric treatment on DOA symptomatology.

  • Foster Caregivers' Perceptions of Children's Sleep Patterns, Problems, and Environments
    by Eleanor L McGlinchey on November 28, 2022

    CONCLUSIONS: Findings are consistent with previous work finding significant health disparities among children placed in foster care. Results highlight a need for trauma-informed, behavioral sleep interventions for this pediatric population which might serve to reduce other health disparities.

  • NREM Sleep Parasomnias Commencing in Childhood: Trauma and Atopy as Perpetuating Factors
    by Cara Walsh on October 24, 2022

    CONCLUSIONS: Significant differences exist across childhood-, adolescent-, and adult-onset NREM parasomnia presenting in adulthood. This study suggests that adult-onset slow-wave sleep disorders may be confounded by psychiatric disorders resulting in nocturnal sleep disruption and that unresolved traumatic life experiences perpetuate NREM disorders arising in childhood and comprise one of the strongest external risk factors for triggering and perpetuating these disorders in adolescence.

  • Interoception in Practice: The Gut-Brain Connection
    by Ann Genovese on August 30, 2022

    Tony is a five and a half-year-old boy who has been a patient in your primary care practice since he was adopted at birth. He has been treated by a child and adolescent psychiatrist for behavioral concerns starting at age 3 years and has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) combined type, anxiety disorder, and insomnia. He presents today with complaints of repeated emesis and refusal to eat or drink over the past 2 weeks and is now...