Overview

Sleep terrors are episodes of screaming, intense fear and flailing while still asleep. Also known as night terrors, sleep terrors often are paired with sleepwalking. Like sleepwalking, sleep terrors are considered a parasomnia — an undesired occurrence during sleep. A sleep terror episode usually lasts from seconds to a few minutes, but episodes may last longer.

Sleep terrors affect almost 40 percent of children and a much smaller percentage of adults. However frightening, sleep terrors aren't usually a cause for concern. Most children outgrow sleep terrors by their teenage years.

Sleep terrors may require treatment if they cause problems getting enough sleep or they pose a safety risk.