For children, sleep terrors tend to decrease by the time they're adolescents. However, if you have concerns about safety or underlying conditions for you or your child, you may want to consult your or your child's doctor, who may refer you to a sleep specialist.
It's a good idea to prepare for your appointment. Here's some information to help you.
What you can do
- Keep a sleep diary. Keeping a sleep diary for two weeks before your appointment can help your doctor understand what's causing the sleep terrors. In the morning, you record as much as you know of your or your child's bedtime ritual, quality of sleep, and so on. At the end of the day, you record behaviors that may affect your or your child's sleep, such as caffeine consumption and any medications taken.
- Write down any symptoms you or your child is experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements you or your child is taking.
- Bring a family member or friend along, if possible. Someone who accompanies you can help you remember what the doctor says.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Preparing a list of questions for your doctor will help you make the most of your time together. For sleep terrors, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What is likely causing my or my child's symptoms or condition?
- Other than the most likely cause, what are other possible causes for the symptoms or condition?
- What kinds of tests are needed?
- Is the condition likely temporary or chronic?
- What is the best course of action?
- What are the alternatives to the primary approach you're suggesting?
- Are there any restrictions that that need to be followed?
- Do you recommend seeing a specialist?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend visiting?
Don't hesitate to ask other questions that occur to you.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, including:
Aug. 12, 2011
- When did the sleep terrors begin?
- How often do the sleep terrors occur?
- Have there been sleep problems in the past?
- Does anyone else in your family have sleep problems?
- Parasomnias. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merck.com/mmpe/print/sec16/ch215/ch215f.html. Accessed June 16, 2011.
- Overnight sleep study. Sleepeducation.com. http://yoursleep.aasmnet.org/Topic.aspx?id=12. Accessed June 10, 2011.
- Sleep terrors. American Academy of Sleep Medicine. http://yoursleep.aasmnet.org/Disorder.aspx?id=13. Accessed June 16, 2011.
- National sleep disorders research plan. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/prof/sleep/res_plan/section5/section5a.html. Accessed June 7, 2011.
- Matwiyoff J, et al. Parasomnias: An overview. Indian Journal of Medical Research. 2010;131:333.
- Avidan AY, et al. The parasomnias: Epidemiology, clinical features, and diagnostic approach. Clinics in Chest Medicine. 2010;31:353.
- Attarian H. Treatment options for parasomnias. Neurological Clinics. 2010;28:1089.
- Stores G. Aspects of parasomnias in childhood and adolescents. Archives of Disease in Childhood. 2009;94:63.
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