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.

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