Sometimes, children (usually between the ages of 4 and 12) experience night terrors. Although they usually remember little or nothing about these episodes, it can be distressing to witness. The terrors usually begin around 2–3 hours after the child falls asleep. The youngster may sit upright or try to get out of bed. He may scream and appear panicked. The child is also likely to be breathless, sweaty, and have a racing heart as though he has been running.
Night terrors are often temporary. Most children have only a few episodes, though it’s possible to have them more often. It is thought that the terrors usually occur if the child is overtired or sleeping in a new place.
In adults, however, night terrors can be much more serious. Those who experience such episodes are more likely to have a mood-related condition such as anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder. A link has also been found between night terrors and post-traumatic stress disorder. Although night terrors are not thought to be dangerous, the underlying causes often require treatment.