Sleep Terrors

Topics: Sleep, Sleep disorder, Sleep medicine Pages: 5 (1385 words) Published: February 3, 2011

Sleep Terrors

Table of Contents
Introductionp 3
Bodyp 3
Definitionp 3
Overviewp 3
Diagnosisp 5
Symptomsp 5
Treatment, Prognosis, and Preventionp 6
Role of the Polysomnographic Technologistp 7
Polysomnograpic Recordp 8
Summary/Conclusionp 9
Referencesp 10

Sleep Terrors
Sleep terrors are commonly known by a few terms, including sleep terrors, night terrors, sleep terror disorder, and pavor nocturnus. The person having a sleep terror will awaken from a dream crying or screaming, which may last for minutes. The person is difficult to awaken and confused. There is no recollection of the dream once awake. Sometimes the person can be violent by swinging their fists or punching. This paper will look in depth at sleep terrors and give a concise review of the causes, prevalence, treatment, symptoms, and safety measures in the sleep lab when dealing with sleep terrors. (Narcolepsy Association UK, 2003) Definition

The definition of sleep terrors is “a sleep disorder involving abrupt awakening from sleep in a terrified state” (Kiriakopoulos, 2005, p.1). “The cause is unknown but night terrors are commonly associated with periods of emotional tension, stress, or conflict” (Kiriakopoulos, 2005). Overview

To understand sleep terrors, you first need to understand normal sleep patterns. “Normal sleep cycles involve distinct stages from light drowsiness to deep sleep” (Kiriakopoulos, 2005, p. 1). These include REM and non-REM sleep. Non-REM sleep involves four stages. The normal sleeping person will have several cycles of REM and non-REM sleep through the night. Night terrors occur during deep sleep, which occurs during stages 3 and 4 of non-REM sleep, beginning approximately 90 minutes after falling asleep (Connelly, 2003) and they generally have a duration of 10 to 20 minutes. The patient usually screams in panic, but there is no memory of what caused them to be scared. (Kiriakopoulos, 2005) Sleep terrors are like nightmares but with certain distinct differences. Nightmares normally occur during REM sleep vs. sleep terrors occurring during deep sleep. Nightmares are most common in the early morning vs. sleep terrors occurring during the first one-third of the night. The sleeper can remember the details of a nightmare vs. a sleep terror, which cannot be remembered. Sleep terrors are not normal, but “nightmares are normal on occasion, especially after frightening movies/TV shows or emotional situations” (Kiriakopoulos, 2005, p. 1). “The sleep disorder of night terrors typically occurs in children aged 3-12 years, with a peak onset in children aged 3½ years” (Connelly, 2005, p.1). Boys, girls, and children of all races are equally affected by sleep terrors. “An estimated 1-6% of children experience night terrors” (Connelly, 2005,p.1). Sleep terrors can be familiar. By adolescence, most children have outgrown sleep terrors. (Connelly, 2005) Sleep terrors can run in families. Although uncommon, adults may have sleep terrors but they are associated “with emotional tension and/or the use of alcohol” (Kiriakopoulos, 2005, p. 1). Although sleep terrors are “not directly caused by a general medical condition or substance use, including medications and drugs of abuse, these symptoms cause clinically important distress or impair work, social or personal functioning” (Narcolepsy Association UK, 2003). Diagnosis

“Usually, a complete history and a physical examination are sufficient to diagnose night terrors” (Connolly, 2003, p. 6). Review of symptoms is necessary for accurate diagnosis of all sleep disorders. In many cases, considering the symptoms, no tests are necessary. (Kiriakopoulos, 2005) It is important to rule out seizure disorders and nightmares when making the differential diagnosis of sleep terror. (Narcolepsy Association UK, 2003) This may include an...
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