What Are The Symptoms Of Sleep Terror Disorder?

August 16, 2014 by  
Filed under Sleep Terror Disorder

If your child suffers from sleep terror disorder, the symptoms are probably familiar. If you’ve only heard of it, you might be curious to know more. After all, studies show fifteen percent of children between the ages of two and eight have symptoms of sleep terror disorder at one time or another. Better to know what to expect ahead of time, so that you can manage the situation easily instead of become terrorized yourself. Your child will not need to go to a sleep disorder center – and neither will you.

A Common Scenario

You’ve put your three year old to bed an hour or so ago. All of a sudden, he’s screaming! You rush in to him, thinking he must have fallen out of his new “big boy bed” or that he’s sick. But none of these things have happened. He’s just sitting upright in his bed, crying as though he’s scared out of his wits! What should you do? How can you comfort him? He’s exhibiting the symptoms of sleep terror disorder – awaking screaming a few hours after falling asleep, confused, not easily comforted. Should you wake him up like you would if he were having a nightmare? Or coax him back to sleep?

How To Cope

If you did try to wake him, you’d find it very hard. One symptom of sleep terror disorder is that the child awakes from a stage 3 or 4 sleep level of non-rapid eye movement sleep. He’s awake, but he not really. It’s like he’s between sleep and wake and can’t get all the way to either one.

Alternately, rather than attempting to wake him, coax him back to sleep. It may take fifteen minutes or so, but holding or sitting by him, rubbing his back and talking softly to him can help him re-focus his attention to get away from the terror he is feeling and back to a deep sleep easily.

Other Symptoms Of Sleep Terror Disorder

There are other symptoms to note of sleep terror disorder. The child often will have other physical traits, like sweating profusely, and breathing fast. Also having a rapid heart beat is very common (remember, in his mind, he’s trying to flee from terror!) and he might have a look of fear or panic on his face. If his eyes are open (though usually unresponsive to what is around him) the pupils will usually be large. He’ll often look confused.

Need Information About Sleep Terror Disorder? Check Here

August 16, 2014 by  
Filed under Sleep Terror Disorder

If your child has sleep terror disorder episodes, information is what you need. Without accurate information, you might be terrified yourself, fearful that your child is suffering needlessly, or that there is something you should do to help your child “get out of it” easier.

While there isn’t a lot you can do when an episode happens, there are things you shouldn’t do – like try to wake the child up. That can result in a longer episode with even more confusion on the part of the suffering child. There are things that can help – talking quietly to the child, holding or rocking her, and making sure the child gets enough sleep and isn’t under an inordinate amount of stress.

If you have a child who has episodes of sleep terror, where to get information that can comfort you as well as inform? Where can you learn about the symptoms of sleep terror disorder? Let’s take a look.

Online Information

In this day of information overload, there is a lot of information about sleep terror disorder on the internet. Be aware that all sites are not “created equally,” and some are likely to be more accurate than others. Medical university sites are likely to offer good information, as are professional sleep associations. Also online, though, are sites where parents can give information and encouragement to each other about the challenges of parenting. There are other parents going through sleep terror disorder – the information one has can be shared with others in a way that supports and encourages each other that “this, too, shall pass.”

Books And Magazines

Parenting books are filled with information. Not all discuss sleep terror disorder in depth, but if you check the index you can find one with more information. Sleep terror disorder has been around for many years, and the keys for dealing with it really haven’t changed, so even older parenting books will offer reliable information.

Parenting magazines are more timely. They offer articles on many topics, and tend to cycle through topics again and again, often with a different angle each time. Sleep terror disorder has been offered many times. You can check an online catalog (often through local libraries) for which issues have the information about sleep terror disorder you’re interested in.

Ask Your Pediatrician

Of course, your very own pediatrician can also be consulted for suggestions or information on dealing with sleep terror disorder. Sometimes they will have other handouts or articles they can share with you about the condition.

Children And Sleep Terror Disorder – Connecting The Dots

August 16, 2014 by  
Filed under Featured, Sleep Terror Disorder

It’s been a very busy day. Your three year old has been on the go all day, with barely a short nap. She was upset that her favorite stuffed dog was lost, but she finally fell asleep for the night a half hour ago. You and Daddy are looking forward to some much-needed “adult time.”

Suddenly, you hear your sweet child screaming! Did she fall out of bed? Is she sick? What could be wrong? You get out of bed, put on your robe, and rush to her bedside. She’s sitting bolt upright in her bed, crying as if her heart will break. She’s awake…but no, when you talk to her she’s unresponsive and confused, and her heart is beating full speed ahead. The pupils in her eyes are huge, and she looks terrified and panicky. She’s sweating bullets. What is going on?

You sit by her, talk to her, run your hand over her hair with a “shh shh shh, sweetie, it’s ok” and she lays back down, still crying. Finally, maybe fifteen minutes later, she falls back asleep and it is all over. For tonight. She does this again a few more times in the next few weeks, then never again. Is this some strange disease or malady? Is she bewitched or cursed? Is she doing it deliberately?

If you go through this – and I have – you will wonder what to make of it. Such strange symptoms and the threat seems so real, and yet by morning the child usually have forgotten all about it. It’s as if it didn’t even happen – from their perspective. From yours, you’re exhausted from the worry and confusion.

The Short Answer – Sleep Terror Disorder Basic Information

What’s going on is this: Your child is likely experiencing night terrors. They are what happened when children have sleep terror disorder, a condition in which the child (usually between ages two and eight) wake up about thirty minutes to three and a half hours after being put to bed. They are “waking” out a stage 3 or 4 non rapid eye movement (NREM) part of their sleep cycle. It’s as if they aren’t awake or asleep, but stuck in between.

When children have sleep terror disorder, it isn’t dangerous, and it usually runs its course in a few weeks and never recurs.

How To Help?

Just as above, the best help a parent or babysitter can be when one of their children have sleep terror disorder is to be beside them, holding or rocking them if they are able to, comforting them with words and touch. They can encourage the child to settle back to sleep, and can pat their back or play with their hair or rub their hands, stimulating those smaller nerves and taking the focus off their internal angst.

What Causes Sleep Terror Disorder In Children?

Experts agree that when children have sleep terror disorder, the most common cause is unresolved emotional issues of the day. In the example at the beginning, the child had lost a favorite toy. That’ll do it. Or hearing the parents arguing, or a high fever, or lack of sleep, can also each be a cause of sleep terror disorder in children.

Getting Down To Basics: The Definition Of Sleep Terror Disorder

August 16, 2014 by  
Filed under Sleep Terror Disorder

Have you ever heard of Sleep Terror Disorder? Most people haven’t. Unless you’ve been around someone who suffers from it, you probably haven’t ever been exposed to it, and it just sounds like a horrible thing, using the word “terror” like that.

So what is “Sleep Terror Disorder?” Is there a definition the experts agree on? How can you avoid it – is it contagious? Can you catch it from your neighbor? Will your children bring it home from school and the whole family get it? Will it ruin your plans for the weekend?

Sleep Terror Disorder – as awful as it sounds – isn’t something to worry about and be afraid of. You’re not going to catch it from anyone else, or be a silent carrier, either. And it isn’t even all that horrible, usually, except it will interrupt your sleep on the nights when it occurs. What’s a definition of Sleep Terror Disorder? Let’s take a look.

Finding A Definition

If you’re looking for a definition of Sleep Terror Disorder, you can check with your pediatrician or in any comprehensive parenting book or medical dictionary. Though it only affects three percent of all children, the condition is distressing enough that many parenting books at least mention it in passing, if not giving a thorough description and suggestions for it.

What’s In A Name?

Sleep Terror Disorder affects primarily children. It is a condition that results in “night terrors” or “pavor nocturnes.” It occurs during the stages 3 or 4 of the non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. It is a sleep disorder that is recognizable by extreme terror and an inability to (for a short time) be unable to wake up.

The person – usually a child between two years and six or eight years, seldom an adolescent or adult – wakes up (sort of) with a panicky scream or maybe a gasp or moan. They have anxiety, confusion, unresponsiveness, odd motor movements, disorientation, and agitation. They cannot usually be completely woken up, or even comforted, and usually after a short while of the screaming or crying (often up to ten or fifteen minutes), they will fall back asleep into a deeper sleep again and will awake usually in the morning with no memory of the episode at all.

Another bit to the definition of sleep terror disorder is that night terrors usually occur one half hour to three and one half hours after the child falls asleep.

The definition of Sleep Terror Disorder is clear – while it is a disturbing situation to have a child who suffer from Sleep Terror Disorder, it is hardly an emergency. You won’t catch it, and you won’t die from it. Neither will your child. Just wait it out, and in a week or so, the symptoms will be gone, never to return.

What Could Be Causing My Child’s Sleep Terror Disorder?

August 16, 2014 by  
Filed under Sleep Terror Disorder

Children between the ages of two and eight are the most apt to have sleep terror disorder, or night terrors. They don’t usually happen to older children, adolescents, or adults, though they can. However, in adolescents and adults, there is a different cause of sleep terror disorder and treatment for it. The most usual type of Sleep Terror Disorder that affects young children is not something to be worried or concerned about, but it is good to be informed.

In Younger Children

The definition of sleep terror disorder tells us that fifteen percent of children have sleep terror disorder, so it is not odd to have a child who has this condition. In children, episodes generally occur for a couple of weeks, then stop as suddenly as they started. Generally, children outgrow sleep terror disorder, and it is rarely seen over age ten.

The cause of sleep terror disorder in children has sometimes been linked to physical things. These include having a high fever or a bowel conditions – like constipation or irregular bowl movements or not having bowel movements at all. Getting enough sleep can be an important asset.

There is also some evidence that genetics can cause sleep terror disorder, so if you had it as a child, your children might also be “blessed” to have it.

Some experts believe that sleep terror disorder episodes are caused by unresolved emotional stress and issues of the day, such as a lost favorite toy or hearing an argument between the parents, watching disturbing violence on television, or hearing a scary story.

In Adolescents And Adults

Though it is unusual for adolescents and adults to have sleep terror disorder, it can happen. But in these age groups, the cause of sleep terror disorder is more apt to be linked to physiology of the body. The adult or teen might not be eating a good diet, or getting enough sleep. Untreated stressful events can also impact on sleep, and can cause sleep terror disorder. It has also been linked to the use of alcohol. With adults and adolescents, these are more apt to be trauma-based rather than genetic, and can be helped with anti-depressant medication and psychotherapy. Adults with night terrors also often have hypoglycemia. They are also more apt to be similar to abused or depressed people, with aggression, impaired memory, anger towards themselves, passivity, the ability to just ignore pain, and anxiety.

Why Some Adults Have Sleep Terror Disorder

August 16, 2014 by  
Filed under Sleep Terror Disorder

You may be familiar with sleep terror disorder in children, but did you know that adults can also have sleep terror disorder? It’s usually got a very different cause and treatment from the childhood kind, but the symptoms are similar. Let’s take a look.

Symptoms Of Sleep Terror Disorder – Whatever The Age

Whether a child or adult, a person with sleep terror disorder has symptoms that are distressing to anyone seeing them. They will usually awake in the night – generally within a few hours of falling asleep – with a feeling of sheer terror. They are waking abruptly from stage 3 or 4 of non-rapid eye movement sleep cycle, and it would seem to the onlooker that they are stuck between sleep and wake. When they wake, they’ll usually scream, or gasp, or moan, and they have a very hard time awaking. It is much more effective to gently help the person fall back into a deep sleep, which they usually do within fifteen minutes. With a child, this role is usually performed by a parent. For an adult, if their spouse or roommate can help them back to sleep, it is ideal.

Other symptoms are physical ones that are to be expected when the person is feeling terror. They will tend to be sweating, with large pupils. Their pulse will usually be racing, and they are likely to be breathing very fast and have a look of fear or panic on their face. They can also look very confused. Reassurance by a person near them can help them relax and fall back into a deep sleep more easily.

Adults And Sleep Terror Disorder

Sleep Terror Disorder is usually a children’s disease. Usually only children between two and eight get it, though occasionally a bit older. When adults have sleep terror disorder, look for other causes. There are many avenues to check and methods to try to alleviate the symptoms, since (unlike children) they are unlikely to get better within a few weeks’ time.

Things for adults with sleep terror disorder to check include: getting a proper diet and enough sleep, and managing stressful events in life. Sometimes adults with sleep terror disorder have additional triggering factors, like trauma-based situations (post tramatic stress syndrome, for example) and genetic or chronic factors. If this is the case, the adult with sleep terror disorder should be in therapy. Psychotherapy and antidepressant medicine can often help immensely.

The adult with sleep terror disorder should also be checked for other physical factors, as there is some evidence that adults with hypoglycemia can have night terrors, as well as other symptoms.

Is There A Treatment For Sleep Terror Disorder?

August 16, 2014 by  
Filed under Sleep Terror Disorder

If your child suffers from sleep terror disorder, you want a treatment to deal with the scary episodes the sleep terror disorder causes. Is there such a thing? What can help?

Who Gets Sleep Terror Disorder?

Sleep Terror Disorder is most common among children from ages two to six. However, they can actually happen at any age. Adult who have sleep terror disorder are in the category of “unusual.” About three percent of children get them. They are most apt to happen during the fires few hours of sleep at night, and they can happen again any night over the course of a few weeks. Fortunately, after that time, they generally disappear entirely, and never recur. After age ten, they are unlikely to occur at all.

What About A Treatment?

Sleep Terror Disorder is different from nightmares. Nightmares are easy to awake a child from, and after they forget about the nightmare, they can go back to sleep. Sleep terror disorder treatment varies because with sleep terror disorder, there is no nightmare to wake from or forget. In fact, due to the complexity of what is going on in their brain at the time of the episode, no one should (or, usually, even can) awake someone from an episode. They usually are out of touch with reality, and unresponsive to outside influence. Instead, during a sleep terror disorder the best treatment is to hold the child or comfort it in another way, while reassuring the child that you are there by them. Rocking can also help. After a few minutes (usually – but it can be longer) the child will fall back into a deeper sleep and be through the sleep terror disorder episode. Treatment, for the moment, was successful, and Mom can go back to sleep.

Long Term Treatment Options

For almost all children, these subside as the child ages. There is usually no long-term medical treatment for the Sudden Terror Disorder needed. If you see a doctor, they will usually suggest that you help the child get more sleep, and lessen the stress that the child is subjected to.

Another option is for the parents to figure out which time period the episodes are most likely to occur and wake the child about 15 minutes prior to that time. After keeping the child fully awake for 4 or 5 minutes, the child can go back to sleep. This usually helps with persistent cases, and within a week can usually be discontinued.

In very severe cases, there are drugs that can be prescribed, but these are usually reserved for adults with ongoing conditions. Also, psychotherapy can be beneficial.

Sleep Terror Disorder and Nightmares – Know The Difference

August 16, 2014 by  
Filed under Sleep Terror Disorder

If you’ve even awoke to the screams of your child in the night, you probably assumed your child was having a nightmare. Maybe he was, maybe he wasn’t. Let’s take a look at another condition known as Sleep Terror Disorder (or Night Terrors or pavor nocturnes). Maybe that is what you child was experiencing. These are different things, and different treatments are appropriate for sleep terror disorder episodes.

What A Night Terror Looks And Sounds Like

A night terror, or sleep terror disorder episode, can happen to adults as well as children, but it primarily affects children between ages 2 and 6. This event usually occurs from half an hour to three and a half hours after the child goes to sleep. The chilling screams or crying would lead a parent to believe they’ve had a bad dream, so the parent may go in to comfort the child. The strange thing is, a child in the midst of a night terror is not easily awakened. In fact, if he is awakened he will be more upset and disoriented. Left alone, the child will usually just go back to sleep and not even remember the episode at all.

During the event, there is usually intense anxiety, confusion, unresponsiveness, unusual movements, disorientation, and agitation. In the morning, they may vaguely remember something was terrifying, but remember little else about it.

And Nightmares?

Nightmares, on the other hand, are different. With a sleep terror disorder, the person doesn’t fully wake up as they will from a nightmare. Also, sleep terror disorder are not about a dream at all. There’s usually no specific situation or event that is dreamed, but the emotion of fear is intense. Though there is no certain scenario that triggers a sleep terror disorder episode, they can be based on a triggering emotion that some children remember as it is repeated over time. An example of a ‘emotional trigger” is to have to perform an impossible task, like counting the stars in the sky, or seeing the image of something such as the folds of the human brain. Because the emotion itself is so overpowering and strange, a sleep terror disorder episode can occur.

What Should Be Done?

If your child is having a nightmare, waking them up can help a lot. Getting them to think about things other than things in the nightmare will help them relax and be able to fall asleep again.

If, on the other hand, it was a sleep terror disorder episode, the best thing is to hold or rock the child or comfort the child in other ways, but not try to wake the child up. Usually, after a short period of screaming or crying, they will settle back into normal sleep mode. Children generally outgrow night terrors within a few weeks or month.