For children, sleep terrors tend to go away by the time they're teenagers. However, if you have concerns about safety or underlying conditions for you or your child, consult your doctor, who may refer you to a sleep specialist.
Keeping a sleep diary for two weeks before the appointment can help the doctor understand more about the sleep schedule, factors that affect sleep and when sleep terrors occur. In the morning, record bedtime rituals, quality of sleep, and so on. At the end of the day, record behaviors that may affect sleep, such as sleep schedule disruptions and any medications taken.
You may want to take a family member or friend along, if possible, to provide additional information.
What you can do
Before your appointment, make a list of:
- Any symptoms experienced, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for the appointment
- Key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes
- All medications, vitamins, herbs or other supplements being taken, and the dosages
- Questions to ask your doctor to help make the most of your time together
Some questions to ask your doctor may include:
- What is likely causing these symptoms?
- What are other possible causes?
- What kinds of tests are needed?
- Is the condition likely temporary or chronic?
- What's the best course of action?
- What are the alternatives to the primary approach you're suggesting?
- Are there any restrictions that need to be followed?
- Do you recommend seeing a specialist?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can have? What websites do you recommend?
Don't hesitate to ask other questions during your appointment.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask a number of questions. Be ready to answer them to reserve time to go over any points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask, for example:
- 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?
July 21, 2017
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- Parasomnias. Merck Manual Professional Version. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/neurologic-disorders/sleep-and-wakefulness-disorders/parasomnias. Accessed May 10, 2017.
- Non-rapid eye movement sleep arousal disorders. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2013. http://dsm.psychiatryonline.org. Accessed May 9, 2017.
- AskMayoExpert. Parasomnias. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2016.
- Kotagal S. Sleepwalking and other parasomnias in children. https://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 10, 2017.
- Foldvary-Schaefer N. Disorders of arousal from non-rapid eye movement sleep in adults. https://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 10, 2017.
- Fleetham JA, et al. Parasomnias. Canadian Medical Association Journal. 2014;186:E273.
- Olson EJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 18, 2017.
Sleep terrors (night terrors)