If your child awakens in the middle of the night yelling in sheer terror, they might be dealing with pavor nocturmus, commonly called sleep terror disorder. Commonly, this is confused with nightmares, but there is a major difference, because the kid often remembers what caused their nightmare while they might not awaken at all during an episode of sleep terror disorder, and will not remember being awake. 

Episodes of sleep terror disorder are prevalent in children between about three and 8 years of age, although they can be experienced by older children, as well as adults. The exact cause of sleep terror disorder is not known, however, it is frequently associateded with stress or lack of sleep. Throughout an episode, which can be frightening to the parents, usually the episode will last between 10 and 20 minutes, after which the child will return to sleep and have no memory of the event the next day.

Figuring out the difference between sleep terror disorder and the child waking up during a bad dream should be easy enough, as the kid may be able to explain about monsters under the bed, and falling through space when they have a nightmare. While these frightening dreams occur during the REM sleep stage, the memory of the occasion is normally vivid when the child gets up. They will also be awake right away after the dream, while being comforted by a parent.

Seldom will a child struggling with sleep terror disorder have any idea the next day of what terrified them awake. While a parent is holding the child throughout an episode, the child will remain sleeping, completely unaware they are having a problem. Regardless of repeated attempts by the parents to soothe the child, they will not be consciously awake and will be not able to talk about exactly what triggered the fear.

If a child continues to suffer from sleep terror disorder, getting rid of the environmental causes of the anxiety and seeing to it the child is getting proper sleep most evenings can really help decrease the number of sleep terror disorder episodes. In some severe and lasting cases, the doctor might suggest sedatives to remove the stress, and help the child sleep throughout the night.

Parents, however, ought to not try to self-diagnose or medicate the child without talking to a doctor. There may be some concealed causes of anxiety to the child that the doctor can detect and help remove. Normally, after the age of 8, the sleep terror disorder will vanish by itself