Unlike nightmares, night terrors are generally forgotten upon waking. Adults will occasionally remember a dream fragment of their night terror, but vivid images and remembrance of fear will normally dissipate by morning.
So, how do you know if you’ve had a night terror? Often, a family member will be the first to address someone having night terrors, as the person experiencing the night terror is unlikely to wake up during an episode. During a sleep terror episode, a person might:
- Scream or shout
- Kick and thrash (flailing in bed)
- Sweat and breathe heavily
- Show an increased heart rate
- Become increasingly aggressive
- Sit up in bed
While they can be frightening and inconvenient to others, occasional night terrors should not be considered cause for alarm. However, if your episodes become frequent, disrupt your (or others’) sleep at night, lead to unsettling amounts of stress or fear, or continue into adulthood, please consult your doctor.