Various factors can contribute to sleep terrors, including:

  • Sleep deprivation
  • Fatigue
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Fever (in children)
  • Sleeping in unfamiliar surroundings
  • Lights or noise

Sleep terrors sometimes are associated with underlying conditions that affect sleep, such as:

  • Sleep-disordered breathing — a group of disorders characterized by abnormal breathing patterns during sleep, the most common of which is obstructive sleep apnea
  • Migraines
  • Head injuries

In other cases, use of alcohol, illegal drugs or certain medications — including some antihistamines, sedatives and sleeping pills — can trigger sleep terror episodes.

Aug. 12, 2011