Sleep terrors or night terrors is a sleep disorder in which sleepers experience feelings of dread or terror, usually during stage three or four sleep (non REM). Though sleep terrors can affect people of all ages, they are predominantly found in children — especially in children ages 2-6. After having a night terror, many children will scream and bolt upright. Other symptoms of sleep terrors include fast breathing, sweating and having a rapid heart rate. Children may be confused and unable to immediately recognize others after a sleep terror.
Some studies suggest that sleep terrors are hereditary, though they can also be caused by stress, poor diet or lack of sleep. A consistent bedtime routine can help to prevent night terrors.