Night Terrors In Adults: Causes, Symptoms And Treatments

Parasomnia is a genre of sleep disorder that entails peculiar behaviors, movements, emotions and dreams that eventuates while sleeping. It can occur in different stages of sleep such as, while falling asleep, between sleep or during the arousal from a sleep. One of these sleep orders is Night terror also named as sleep terror. Sleep terror is a kind of disorder in which a person temporary arouses from a sleep for a short period, during which he acts extremely terrified.

exploring sleep terror

Night terror is estimated to be 1- 6% in children and less than 1% adults are affected by this disorder. In adults, it can occur at the age of 20 to 30 years. Night terror is often associated with the nightmares. But what exactly it is? Why did it happen? What are the symptoms? How to overcome this disorder? If you are curious to know about all these questions then in this article, we will explore all the answers about the night terror, so read the complete article.

What Is Night Terror?

what is night terror

As we have described earlier, night terror is a disorder of sleeping, in which a person experiences an extreme fear while falling asleep or while sleeping or waking from a sleep. During the period, a person acts abnormally by expressing his fear through shouting, screaming, panicked and sweating.

Usually, in this situation, the affected person can hit anything that is around him without really knowing that what is in his surroundings and generally, forgets about what he has done. Affected person experience this after a few hours of sleeping and this period can last up to 3 seconds to 20 minutes.


symptoms of sleep terror

Usually, an affected person does this all unconsciously and seems to forget about it. But it is very easy to diagnose it. Given below are some symptoms:

  • Fully or partly arousal from sleep, immediately.
  • Shrieking or screaming.
  • The person can talk, moan, scream, sob or cry.
  • Widely opened eyes.
  • Intense fear.
  • Rapid heart-beat.
  • Fleet breathing.
  • Panic.
  • Sweating.
  • Possibly sit or walk around the house.
  • Little or no memento about the episode after awakening.
  • Once the episode has finished, the affected person goes back to sleep.

Symptoms of night terror vary from person to person, some of the affected people are capable of escaping and can run fast around the house and some of them just sit on the bed with eyes wide open and rapid breathing. Pay attention to all of these symptoms so that it could be easier for you to diagnose the disorder of night terrors


causes of sleep terror

Causes of sleep terror is a big challenge in psychology but some of the commonly known factors behind night terror in adults are

  • Stress.
  • Anxiety.
  • Interruption in sleep schedule.
  • Use of alcohol.
  • Some medications.
  • Extreme tiredness.
  • Could be inherited.
  • Fever.
  • Late night snacks.
  • Sleep apnea.
  • Restless legs syndrome.

Above all the causes in adults, the interesting and rare one is late night snacks. Some adults experience night terror after having late night snack because it increases the metabolism which causes a signal to the brain to be more active.

Some medications such as anti-depression and narcotics, act with the chemical on the brain, hence causing night terror. Extreme depression, tiredness and stress also effects the brain causing night terror. Use of alcohol is the biggest cause in the adults and sometimes if the family has this disorder then it can be inherited.


If the episodes of night terror in effected person are not frequent then the treatment is not necessary. In such case, it is recommended to rearrange the furniture of the bedroom so that during the episode he won’t get hurt. But if these episodes are frequent then this is an alarming situation.

In such case, it is recommended to go for an expert advice who will suggest cognitive behavioral therapy, hypnosis, biofeedback or relaxation therapy that may help. Besides, some home remedies can be used for the treatment of night terrors and some of them are described below.

  • Get Sufficient Sleep

get sufficient sleep

Fatigue and deprived sleep contribute to the night terror. It is necessary that if you are affected by this disorder, re-schedule your sleeping time. Earlier bedtime and more sleeping are highly recommended. Try taking more short naps as possible during working schedule and avoid any noise that can interrupt your sleep. Sleep in a peaceful environment. Increase the duration of the sleep from 6 to 10 hours. In that way, your mind will have more time to be relaxed.

  • Establish A Relaxing Routine Before Bedtime

relaxing routine

Maintain a regular relaxing routine by doing quite and calm activities such as reading books, soaking in a warm bath before going to bed. Make the bedroom noiseless and comfortable for sleeping. Meditation and relaxing exercises are also beneficial. There should be no use of gadgets such as laptops and mobile phones, one hour before sleeping. As the use of theses gadgets can interrupt your sleeping schedule.

Checking The Pattern

checking the routine

Note that how much time after sleeping, you experience night terror. If the period is consistent then anticipatory awakening can help. Try to awake before the time when the episode occurs, using an alarm. for instance, if you experience the terror after the one hour of sleeping then set an alarm for almost 45 minutes. In this way, you are interrupting your mind so that it won’t get into the episode of night terror.

Medicines To Put Stress In Its Place

medications to put stress away

Problems are part of life but don’t let them rule yourself. Don’t panic and in such situations, try medication to get relief from stress. Usually, in this situation, Adrenaline is recommended which is a neurotransmitter and the medication. Generally, Adrenaline is generated by the adrenal gland and some neurons. It a great anti-depressant and it plays an important role in the fight or flight mode by increasing the blood flow.

I hope you liked my post about the night terrors and if you have any query or want to give suggestions then write it down in the comments sections. For more articles of your interest, you may visit Psychology category at TryArticles.

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