ABC Medical Center > Night terrors

What is Night terrors?

21:56 - 4 May , 2021


It is a parasomnia (undesirable episodes during sleep), which is characterized by intense fears, guttural sounds, tremors, and screams when the patient is still asleep.

It is common for night terrors to appear along with sleepwalking, lasting from a few seconds to a few minutes, affecting just under half of children, although they can also affect adults, only in a much smaller percentage.

Night terrors generally disappear as children approach adolescence, but if they persist, cause serious sleep disorders, or endanger their safety, they will need to be treated promptly.

As with sleepwalking, and being a parasomnia, night terrors occur during the deepest sleep phase, N3.

Some of the potential risks of developing night terrors are:

  • Restless legs syndrome.
  • Certain drugs.
  • Depression.
  • Anxiety.
  • Alcohol and drug intake.
  • Severe sleep delay.
  • Extreme fatigue.
  • Stress.
  • Impact on sleep habits.
  • High fever.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea.

Signs and symptoms Night terrors

  • Excessive sweating.
  • Heavy breathing.
  • Accelerated heartbeat.
  • Intense fear.
  • Violent movements of arms and legs.
  • Difficulty waking up.
  • Forgetting about the episode the next day.
  • Aggressiveness.
  • Screams of terror.
  • Sitting in bed with a fearful face.
  • Eyes fully open.
  • Fixed gaze and dilated pupils.

Diagnosis and treatment Night terrors

Once the sleep disorders specialist analyzes your symptoms and clinical history, they will perform a physical examination, ask your family member a series of questions about the episodes you experienced while you were sleeping, and perform a polysomnography to measure and observe your sleep patterns during its different phases.

The treatment will be determined after establishing the diagnosis and depending on the intensity of the symptoms, as well as whether the night terrors are due to other sleep disorders or other conditions, and it may include drugs, cognitive behavioral therapy, hypnosis, biofeedback, and relaxation.

At the Neurology Center, a select group of highly trained and certified doctors in various neurological specialties is ready to assist you with the quality and warmth that characterizes us.

Nervous system specialties

  • Neurology
  • Neurosurgery
  • Spine surgery
  • Pediatric neurosurgery
  • Neurophysiology
  • Neuro-rehabilitation
  • Neuropathology
  • Interventional neuroradiology
  • Neuropsychology
  • Neuro-oncology
  • Neurotology
  • Epilepsy
  • Neuro-ophthalmology
  • Neuroimaging


  • Ávila PM, Iglesias TJS, Delgado PGY. Alteraciones biopsicosociales más frecuentes en ancianos que ingresan en la Sala de Geriatría. Acta Med Cent. 2021;15(1):81-90.
  • Rojas FOA, Palomino MLG, Romero VR, et al. Asociación entre el uso de medios tecnológicos y algunas alteraciones del sueño. CuidArte. 2015;4(8):46-54.

How can we help you?

    The dissemination of the content of this material is for informational purposes only and does not replace, under any circumstance or condition, a consultation with a specialist doctor, for which the ABC Medical Center is not responsible for the different use that may be given to it. If you require more information related to the subject, we suggest you contact the specialist doctor you trust directly.