Understanding the cause of night terrors is often the best course of action for choosing the best night terrors treatment. Night terrors differ from nightmares and are more common in children, although some adults can suffer from them as well. The causes for night terrors can differ in children and adults and consultation with a doctor is sometimes advisable if night terrors occur frequently.
According to some accounts, night terrors can occur in children as young as six months old. Night terrors commonly run in families, indicating that there is a genetic connection. Experts think that children with night terrors are experiencing a developmental bump in their sleep patterns, and that they commonly grow out of these terrors by adolescence when the brain is more fully developed. Even so, certain conditions like over-tiredness and lack of sleep, anxiety, stress and major life-changing events can bring on night terrors in children. The best night terrors treatment for children often includes getting a proper night of rest and dealing with stress and anxiety through conversation with a parent or consultation with a psychologist if necessary.
These same conditions — fatigue, stress and anxiety — can trigger night terrors in adults. Other possible causes in adults may include an overactive thyroid, sleep medications, alcohol, antihistamines and illegal drugs. Night terrors have also been associated with people who suffer from migraines. Some suffers claim that a heavy meal before bedtime can cause night terrors. As with children, the best night terrors treatment for adults often includes regular sleep, the elimination of drugs that might be causing the terrors, and dealing with any sources of anxiety.
If night terrors occur frequently and are disruptive to daily activity, it is a good idea to consult a doctor to find the best night terrors treatment. Parents of children who suffer from night terrors might consider taking careful notes about their children’s bedtime habits, times of night terror occurrences, and any thoughts about associated causes. They should also provide the doctor with a list of any medications the child is taking. Adult sufferers should work with their doctors to determine if medication or an underlying medical or psychological condition like chronic anxiety is contributing to the occurrence of night terrors.
Unlike nightmares that can often occur during any stage of sleep, night terrors take place in stage four sleep. Night terrors are accompanied by specific physiological responses like elevated heart rate and sweating, so reacting to these terrors, also known as pavor nocturnus, often feels you are being physically threatened. Night terror suffers will sometimes sit up in bed with their eyes wide open, even though they may not be awake. Gently waking the child or adult is often a good course of action to alleviate their stress, but this should be done with caution as adults sometimes thrash about during night terror episodes. Most sufferers do not remember the episode or specific details about the night terror the next morning.