To diagnose sleep terrors, your doctor reviews your medical history and your symptoms. Your evaluation may include:

  • Physical exam. Your doctor may do a physical exam to identify any conditions that may be contributing to the sleep terrors.
  • Discussing your symptoms. Sleep terrors are usually diagnosed by your doctor based on your description of the events. Your doctor may ask about your family history of sleep problems. Your doctor may also ask you or your partner to fill out a questionnaire about your sleep behaviors.
  • Nocturnal sleep study (polysomnography). In some cases, your doctor may recommend an overnight study in a sleep lab. Sensors placed on your body record and monitor brain waves, the oxygen level in your blood, heart rate and breathing, as well as eye and leg movements while you sleep. You may be videotaped to document your behavior during sleep cycles.