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Night Terrors Symptoms

In addition to episodes of intense crying and fear during sleep, with difficulty waking the child, symptoms of night terrors may also include:

Unlike nightmares, most children do not recall a dream after a night terror episode, and they usually do not remember the episode the next morning.

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The typical night terror episode usually begins approximately 90 minutes after falling asleep. The child sits up in bed and screams, appearing awake but is confused, disoriented, and unresponsive to stimuli. Although the child seems to be awake, the child does not seem to be aware of the parents' presence and usually does not talk. The child may thrash around in bed and does not respond to comforting by the parents.

Most episodes last one to two minutes, but they may last up to 30 minutes before the child relaxes and returns to normal sleep.

If the child does awaken during a night terror, only small pieces of the episode may be recalled. Usually, the child does not remember the episode upon waking in the morning.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD on October 17, 2015

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