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Night Tremors in Adults and Children

Most often found in children, night terrors are episodes that occur while we are asleep and we have a sleep disruption that is characterized by terror and fear. A night terror usually occurs during the non-REM when we are deeply asleep that in a child is usually two or three hours after they fall asleep.

It is most common in children who might continue to have episodes until their teens but then they gradually disappear. It occurs in adults but very rarely. For parents it can be very distressing to see their child so upset and usually they need to be calmed and comforted until they will return to sleep.




What are the symptoms of night terrors?

It will vary by person, but some children might sit up and be screaming or shouting like they are in deep distress. Their breathing and heart beat might be faster and they could be sweating or crying. Usually they might thrash around and generally be scared and upset. Usually they will calm down after a awhile and go back to sleep but some children have difficulty returning to sleep as it is very traumatic for them – and for the parents too. Usually the child will not remember any specifics of what the night terror was about unlike a nightmare that they might remember parts of.

What is the cause of night terrors?

Night terrors only occur in approximately 6% of children between the ages of four and twelve so it is relatively rare, but it is caused by the central nervous system becoming over-aroused during sleep. Since they are maturing, it is thought that that has something to do with it as well. It is known that many children inherit them from a parent who had the same difficulty as a child. Most of the night terrors seem to involve boys rather than girls

Other sleep tremor causes can be when the child is sleeping in a different home or bed or is away from home or in an unfamiliar environment. If a child is over fatigued or stressed out about a new school or an incident, it can trigger a night terror. If a child is sick or taking a new medication it might cause a night terror. Night terrors can come and go or be a one-time occurrence and usually they simply disappear as the child ages into the teens.

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Night Tremors in Adults and Children