Night Terror

A night terror is a sleep disorder that causes people to wake with overwhelming feelings of terror and dread.

What is a Night Terror?
Night terrors are sometimes characterized as occurring in between sleep and wakefulness. People experiencing night terrors are not dreaming, but are not fully conscious. They may be confused and unable to be comforted, may thrash or scream, and do not typically respond to verbal reassurances or questions. Night terrors are related to sleepwalking, and people who sleepwalk are more likely to have night terrors. Night terrors usually last between 10 and 20 minutes.

Because people do not typically remember night terrors the next day, it is difficult to know what people experiencing night terrors see or feel. They may be frightened by a dream they have just had or by the fact that they do not know where they are. They may also be imagining frightening images or thoughts and be in a dreamlike state.

What Causes Night Terrors?
Night terrors are common in children between the ages of three and seven, especially boys. The exact cause of night terrors is not well understood, but illness, stress, and sleep deprivation can make night terrors more likely. Night terrors are more likely to occur early in the evening, while nightmares are more common during early morning. Adults who are under immense stress or who have posttraumatic stress disorder are more likely to experience night terrors.

How Are Night Terrors Treated?
Children who have night terrors typically grow out of them, and some mental health professionals view them as a normal part of development. Stress management techniques can help minimize the risk of night terrors, and some adults who have night terrors seek out mental health counseling to address the causes of the fear. Anti-anxiety drugs such as benzodiazepenes can reduce the frequency of night terrors. However, these drugs are not normally prescribed to children and are only rarely used to treat adults’ night terrors.


  1. A.D.A.M. Editor Board. (2011, May 01). Night terror. PubMed Health. Retrieved from
  2. Night terrors. (n.d.). WebMD. Retrieved from

Last Updated: 08-12-2015

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  • Cara O

    Cara O

    February 2nd, 2017 at 5:45 PM

    If people haven’t tried dream catcher oil it works amazing for terrors or any sleep issue. Id b happy to give more info but it stopped our terrors right away. Saved us so much horrible nights. My daughter has them from 18 months to 6 yrs. Now we use the oil eveey night.

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