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.