Night Terrors In Adults (2021)

Updated May, 2021
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Though most common in children, night terrors have been known to also impact adults. If you experience frightening ordeals as an adult, you're not alone. While it's not exactly certain what causes night terrors, there are several things you can do to manage your symptoms.

Night terrors affect both children and adults

Night terrors are nightmares that occur between sleep and wakefulness, causing the sufferer to scream or thrash while still asleep. They're more common in younger children, but around 2% of adults have reported experiencing symptoms of night terrors.

Are night terrors the same as nightmares?

Yes and no. While nightmares and night terrors can be similar in content, nightmares happen in REM sleep while night terrors happen outside of REM sleep. This often leads the person to respond to the dream physically, as though they're awake. Because night terrors happen outside REM sleep, many people don't remember what they dreamt about.

Night terror symptoms in adults

There are several signs of night terrors in adults, such as:

  • Screaming/crying while asleep
  • Heavy breathing
  • Aggressive response to physical sensation, such as touch or sound from outside the dream.

What makes night terrors occur in adulthood?

While exact causes aren't known, underlying medical issues and lifestyle factors increase the chance of being afflicted with night terrors. If you suffer from mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, you're more likely to experience episodes. This is also true of physical conditions, such as sleep apnea and sleep deprivation. In addition, your lifestyle also impacts your chance of experiencing night terrors.

What things can I do to prevent them from occurring?

In addition to the physical causes, your lifestyle also impacts your chance of experiencing night terrors. There are a few changes you can make to help manage your symptoms and rest more peacefully.

  • Manage your symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  • Avoid consuming items known to negatively impact sleep, such as alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and fried foods before bedtime.
  • Make the necessary changes to your sleep environment. It's important to ensure you sleep more deeply, which means reducing your ambient noise, avoiding blue lights, and keeping your screen time before bed minimal.

Will a new mattress help with night terrors?

Changing your sleeping environment is an important step to managing your night terrors. Investing in a new mattress will help you find the comfort you need to achieve REM sleep and increase your level of productive rest. If you're looking to help control your symptoms and experience a more restful sleep, finding a new mattress is a good step in the right direction.

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