Experts don’t fully understand what leads to night terrors (waking up with intense feelings of fear), but they have found that these episodes become more common in those who don’t get enough sleep, are feeling very stressed, or have a fever.

Who gets night terrors?

Night terrors are most common in children between the ages of three and seven. Most children stop having night terrors when they reach the age of 10. As many as three out of 10 children have night terrors at some point in their life.

Most adults do not get night terrors. When they occur in this population, night terrors may be a sign of a nervous system disorder.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Colleen Ehrnstrom's profile picture
Dr. Colleen Ehrnstrom, PhD

Dr. Colleen Ehrnstrom is a licensed clinical psychologist with a specialty practice in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Areas of expertise include insomnia and other sleep disorders, anxiety, and depression.

Dr. Ehrnstrom is not a medical provider and is not providing any recommendations regarding medications. Rather, she is sharing and reviewing the research as it relates to education when learning how best to treat insomnia.

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