Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Font Size

Night Terrors

When to Seek Medical Care

Sleep disruption is a parent's most frequent concern during the first years of a child’s life. Half of all children develop a disrupted sleep pattern serious enough to warrant a visit to the pediatrician. During his or her evaluation, the doctor may also be able to exclude other possible disorders that might cause night terrors.


Exams and Tests for Night Terrors

Usually, a complete history and a physical exam are sufficient to diagnose night terrors.

If other disorders are suspected, additional tests may be useful to exclude them:

  • An electroencephalogram (EEG), which measures brain activity, may be performed if a seizure disorder is suspected.
  • Polysomnography (a combination of tests used to check for adequate breathing while asleep) may be done if a breathing disorder is suspected.
  • CT scans and MRIs are usually not necessary.

Home Remedies for Night Terrors

Parents might take the following precautions at home:

  • Make the child’s room safe to try to prevent the child from being injured during an episode.
  • Eliminate all sources of sleep disturbance.
  • Maintain a consistent bedtime routine and wake-up time.

Medical Treatment for Night Terrors

Unfortunately, no adequate treatment exists for night terrors. Management primarily consists of educating family members about the disorder and reassuring them that the episodes are not harmful.

In severe cases in which daily activities (for example, school performance or peer or family relations) are affected, tricyclic antidepressants (such as imipramine) may be used as a temporary treatment.

Next Steps & Follow-Up

If it helps to alleviate your child's anxiety - or yours - make an appointment to talk to his doctor.

Night Terror Prevention

If your child has night terrors, you can try to interrupt her sleep in order to prevent one. Here is how to do it:

  • First, note how many minutes the night terror occurs from your child’s bedtime.
  • Then, awaken your child 15 minutes before the expected night terror, and keep her awake and out of bed for five minutes. You may want to take your child to the bathroom to see if she will urinate.
  • Continue this routine for a week.

Today on WebMD

fatigued senior woman
We’ve got 10 tips to show you how
Man snoring in bed
Know your myths from your facts.
Young woman sleeping
What do your dreams say about you?
woman eith hangover
It’s common, and really misunderstood.
Young woman sleeping
Cannot sleep
child sitting in bed
Woman with insomnia
nurse sleeping
Foods That Help Or Harm Your Sleep
Insomnia 20 Tips For Better Sleep
Pain at Night