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Nightmares or Sleep Terror Disorder? Tips from a therapist: By: Ask Jan

Night terrors or bad dream?
Night terrors or bad dream?
Photo by: Aloha Joe

Sleep Terror Disorder is often mistaken for a nightmare or sleep walking. Sleep terrors are frightening to witness if you have never seen one and even more frightening to the individual experiencing the sleep terror. The episode usually lasts between one and ten minutes.

Individuals with this disorder usually wake up yelling, screaming, and crying. Their attempts at communication with others may be incoherent. They may appear to be in a trance-like state.

Other symptoms that may be present include:

Refusing to allow anyone to hold or touch them

Punching or swinging their arms as if to protect themselves

Sitting up in the bed abruptly

Eyes may be open but they may not appear to recognize others

Sleep walking

Trying to get away from or flee from an imagined threat

Appearing frightened, anxious or panicky

Most individuals will have no recall or only a vague recall of the episode

What decreases the likelihood of sleep terrors?

Avoid irregular sleep patterns

Get enough sleep – most people require 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night

Avoid alcohol or sedatives

Avoid too much stress

Who gets Sleep Terrors?

This is a rare disorder with only 1% to 6% among children and less than one percent among adults according to the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-IV-TR

If you think you or someone you know has sleep terrors or another sleep disorder then consider getting a sleep study. Sleep disorders can only be diagnosed by a qualified professional. Please call your doctor if you suspect you have a sleep disorderIf you would like to be notified when I publish an article please click on the subscribe button at the top of this page. Your information will not be sold or shared. Thank your for reading.




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