There are two types of sleep we experience throughout the night: REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and Non-REM Sleep. Each type has different stages. Night Terrors, which are characterized by repeated episodes of disturbance and fear, takes place between stages 3 and 4 of the non-REM phase.
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Who Is Most Likely To Suffer From Night Terrors?
Typically, night terrors are experienced by children between the ages of 3-12. An estimated 1%-6% of children, regardless of their gender, suffer from intense night terrors but usually outgrow them by adolescence.
Why Are Children Most Likely To Suffer?
Night terrors are caused by an over-stimulation of the Central Nervous System or otherwise referred to as the CNS. This over-stimulation occurs during sleep and happens because the CNS's job of regulating sleep and brain activity is still essentially maturing within itself. Once the child falls asleep, typically within 90 minutes, the non-REM transition takes place and the child may begin to cry. It is difficult to wake them while this is taking place. Afterwards, the child is not able to even remember if they had a dream or not. Night Terrors can also sometimes be a result of stressful life events, sleep deprivation, fever, specific medications, or even genetically inherited. 80% of children affected have inherited it from a family member either who experienced the same thing or suffered from a similar sleep disorder.
Night terrors are different from the average nightmare and are so rare that only 3%-6% of children experience them. Once adolescence occurs, the CNS has matured enough that night terrors are typically no longer an issue. Children and their families can finally sleep peacefully without night terrors negatively impacting their lives.