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.

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