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About Night terrors

Night terrors–also known as sleep terrors–are episodes of screaming, fear, and flailing limbs while asleep. This parasomniac behavior is classified as a sleep disorder. This condition most commonly affects younger children, usually at about the age of 1 ½ years old. In fact, the Journal of the American Medical Association estimates that nearly 35% of children at this age experience one or more episodes of night terrors and that nearly 56% of all children experience some form of night terror before the age of 13.

Night terrors are far less common in older children and adults. Only about 2.2% of adults experience any form of night terror. These episodes are more common in adults who experienced recurrent night terrors in their childhood, or who have a family history of night terrors.

Night Terror Symptoms

While night terrors aren’t a cause for concern. These episodes usually only last for a few moments (though they can last up to 30-45 minutes) and do not cause any serious complications.

Common symptoms of night terrors include:

  • Screaming or shouting during sleep
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Tensing of muscles during sleep
  • Sweating or flushing
  • Heavy breathing
  • Sitting up while asleep or flailing while asleep
  • Confusion when awakened
  • Unresponsive when trying to be awakened
  • Sleepwalking or aggressive behavior when being consoled or restrained
  • Little to no memory of the event the next day

This is not a complete list of symptoms, though these are among the most common. While these symptoms rarely pose any sort of threat to the patient, they can be embarrassing (especially for older children).

Night Terrors and Nightmares

Night terrors and nightmares occur during different parts of the sleep cycle. Night terrors generally occur during non-REM sleep, in between sleep cycles. Nightmares frequently occur during REM sleep.

Nightmares are scary dreams that most frequently happen in the second half of the night. You can usually remember a nightmare, and these dreams do not cause the vocal or physical reactions that occur during night terrors. While children are more likely to experience nightmares, these dreams can affect anyone and are usually brought on by periods of stress or anxiety.

Night terrors occur during the first half of the night. An individual experiencing a night terror will often thrash, flail, or get up and move around. These movements may be accompanied by a vocal reaction like screaming or wailing. Unlike nightmares, an individual who has experienced a night terror rarely remembers the episode the next morning. These episodes can be brought on by stress, but are also often hereditary.

Seeking Help for Night Terrors

As stated above, night terrors are usually short-lived and will often go away as an individual grows up. There is no real cause for concern if the individual doesn’t sleepwalk or move around too much during the night.

That being said, you may seek help from a sleep specialist if:

  • Night terrors become recurrent
  • The episodes disrupt the sleep of the individual or family members in the household
  • Episodes result in the individual moving around or sleepwalking dangerously
  • Episodes result in injury or near-injury
  • Sleep disruptions are causing problems functioning or fatigue during the day

It is recommended that you see a sleep specialist if you are looking for clinical help for night terrors. A primary care provider (like a family medicine doctor or pediatrician) can help treat the condition, but sleep specialists can provide advanced treatment techniques to help eliminate triggers of these episodes while promoting safety in the household.

Treatment Options

Night terrors are usually treated with some counseling and home remedies. Most cases of night terror are caused by stress and poor sleep hygiene, even in children. Treatment is centered around improving sleep and reducing triggers that can cause night terrors.

If your child is experiencing night terrors, you may feel the urge to wake them up and console them. The Sleep Foundation actually recommends staying near your child but NOT waking them up. This can prolong the episode and make the child confused.

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Night Terror FAQ

Frequently asked questions about night terror treatment on Sesame

Sleep is a vital function that keeps our bodies healthy, moods stable, and mind sharp. So how can you leverage a good night's sleep for maximum benefits? Here are a few strategies.

Make your bedroom more sleep-friendly: Make sure you're sleeping in a cool, dark, quiet place. Avoid artificial light from electronic devices, which can disrupt your sleep-wake cycle.

Be consistent with your sleep schedule: Going to bed at the same time each night is an easy way to balance out your sleep schedule and establish a routine that your circadian rhythm can match. Sleeping in and staying up late is tempting on the weekends, but the more regularly you go to bed at the same time, the more likely you'll keep insomnia at bay.

Avoid stimulants and depressants: Substances like nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol can disrupt sleep. If you're experiencing insomnia, think twice before you have that 4pm cup of coffee.

Get regular exercise: Exercising at least 5-6 hours before bed can help you fall and stay asleep more easily.

Avoid daytime naps: Save the sleep for bedtime.

Eat meals on a regular schedule: Late-night dinners can keep you awake at night. Sleep doctors recommend you eat dinner at similar times, well before bed, each day.

Practice stress management: Meditate, do yoga, read a book, or listen to soothing music. Follow a routine that helps you relax before bed.

Keep a sleep diary: The habits that are disrupting your sleep aren't always easy to notice. A sleep diary is a valuable tool for monitoring your sleep habits, documenting your sleep problems, and identifying patterns that may affect your sleep.

For more ideas on how to build healthy sleep habits, speak with one of the real, quality doctors on Sesame. Sesame can connect you directly with top-rated sleep specialists near you at affordable cash pay prices.

If you're not getting enough sleep you're not alone. More than one-third of Americans (about 70 million people) describe their sleep as "poor" or "only fair." The most common symptoms of a sleep disorder are:

  • Difficulty staying awake when not physically active.
  • Struggling to pay attention or concentrate at work, school, or in social situations.
  • Performance problems in school or at work.
  • Consistently being told that you look sleepy.
  • Difficulty with memory.
  • Slowed reflexes or response times.
  • Difficulty controlling your emotions.
  • Feeling the constant need to nap.
  • Snoring loudly.

If you're experiencing sleep issues, Sesame makes it easier than ever to get the treatment you need. Simply enter "sleep doctor" into our search engine, to get convenient results in Visalia, CA right away.

Sleep disorders are as diverse in their effects as they are in their causes. Some of the most common sleep disorders that doctors treat include:

Insomnia: Insomnia is characterized by difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night.

Sleep apnea: Sleep apnea includes abnormal patterns in breathing while you are asleep. There are several types of sleep apnea.

Restless legs syndrome (RLS): Restless leg syndrome, also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, is a type of sleep movement disorder in which patients feel an urge to move their legs while trying to fall asleep. This can lead to discomfort.

Periodic limb movement (PLM): Periodic limb movement is characterized by repetitive jerking or cramping in the legs while sleeping. PLM is the only movement disorder that occurs only during sleep. While it is often linked with RLS, they are not the same thing.

Narcolepsy: Characterized by extreme sleepiness during the day and falling asleep suddenly during the day.

Sleepwalking (somnambulism): Involves getting up and walking around while in a state of sleep.

Sleep is a complex function, and many doctors are trained to diagnose and treat sleep disorders. Depending on the nature of your sleep deficiency, a primary care physician, psychiatrist, neurologist, or pediatrician could be right for you.

If you're needing a good night's sleep Sesame can help! Sesame offers convenient sleep medicine specialist consultations near you at affordable cash-pay prices. Book directly with the doctor you want to see and save up to 60% on your appointment when you book through Sesame - no insurance needed.

Right here! On Sesame you can connect with real, quality doctors licensed to treat patients in Visalia, CA for a range of sleep disorders in conditions. Sesame works directly with doctors - not insurance companies - to get you the care you need at affordable, upfront prices. Save up to 60% on your next sleep medicine consultation when you book with Sesame.

A sleep study is a diagnostic test that screens for sleep conditions. During a sleep study, doctors will monitor your heart rate, eye movement, brainwaves, oxygen saturation, and breathing while you sleep, getting the data they need to get to the bottom of - and ultimately treat - whatever is disrupting your normal sleep pattern.

Sleep studies are sometimes covered by insurance. Even with insurance, though, the amount you pay depends entirely on the relationship between your insurance company and the sleep institute conducting the study. The out-of-pocket cost will also depend on if you've met your deductible or not. The number of variables is enough to disrupt your sleep patterns even further.

If lack of sleep is dampening your quality of life, it's time to take back control. Sesame works directly with doctors - not insurance networks- so you can compare prices and book a visit with the sleep physician you want to see.

Doctors typically treat night terrors with a combination of lifestyle changes and medications. For lifestyle changes, the patient should be advised to get enough restful sleep (no less than 7 hours) and reduce stress levels. They should also be encouraged to practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and meditation before bedtime. Additionally, it is important that patients have a regular sleep schedule with consistent bedtimes and wake times.

For medication, doctors may prescribe a sedative to reduce the frequency and intensity of night terrors. Note that some sedatives are listed as controlled substances and cannot be prescribed on Sesame. Antidepressants may also be prescribed if depression is identified as an underlying factor in night terrors. In some cases, antihistamines may be used if allergies are identified as a contributing factor. Ultimately, the doctor will work with the patient to determine which treatment options are most appropriate for their individual situation.

Booking an appointment with a doctor or nurse online is typically the fastest way to get a prescription! Sesame offers same-day online doctor prescription and prescription refill appointments with board-certified healthcare professionals. If deemed clinically necessary, Sesame providers can provide prescriptions and prescription refills for most non-controlled substances. They can also provide you with a doctor’s note if necessary.

Most online prescription and prescription refill appointments take around 15 minutes, and providers are able to send a prescription to a pharmacy of your choice right after your appointment.

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