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Introduction

Night terrors are medically referred to as Pavor Nocturnus and are a clinically diagnosed sleep disorder. Those who experience symptoms of night terrors should ask for medical help because it will improve the ability to sleep and the overall quality of life. Night terrors are a condition in which a person experiences a sudden fearful occurrence in the sleep for no particular reason. Night terrors can easily be confused for a bad nightmare and those who experience them do not remember anything, have no clue what is happening to them and see no reason why is it happening. If left untreated the condition can worsen and become more frequent which ultimately disrupts the quality of life. Night terrors can be recognized by a few common symptoms and they include no recollection of any nightmares or bad dreams whatsoever. A person wakes up suddenly with an extreme level of terror and fear.

As a consequence of the sudden occurrence, a person is usually very afraid of going back to sleep. Confusion, sweating, increased breathing and a faster heart rate are also common, and quite often a person wakes up screaming although unaware why the screaming happens. In most cases it is very difficult, if not impossible to calm and comfort the terrified person. In some rare cases a person may remember some images experienced in the dream, but it is usually only for a short amount of time. When the next day comes a person has no memory of the terrifying event at all.

Symptoms

The symptoms of night terrors usually occur during the first third of the night. They can last up to half an hour, but in most cases they do not last that long. When the symptoms disappear a person that falls back into normal deeper sleep.

Night terrors are very common in children that are under five years of age. If a child suffered from night terrors, it is very likely that they will reoccur in the preadolescent period. In order to understand and recognize the condition properly the parents must know the symptoms. The child usually wakes up suddenly, does not respond to vocal instruction or touch and it is impossible to establish any type of communication. The child wakes up frightened screaming and thrashing around and after these symptoms he or she either goes back to sleep or stays awake and responsive.

One must know the difference between nightmares and night terrors. Nightmares are reflections of one’s individual stress, emotional strain and daily impressions and they only occur during the REM sleep phase. Night terrors are not associated with any particular circumstance. 

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