Sleep Terror Disorder



Treatment Summary: Sleep Terror (night terrors) disorder occurs in mostly males between the age 5 and 7 years old. Sleep terrors also occur in females, as well but not as often as it does in males. Sleep terrors usual are triggered by stress, conflict, tension, lack of sleep and periods of emotional problems. Sleep terrors should not be confused with nightmares which usuall occur after some children have watched a scary movie or has had an emotional experience. Most children remember their nightmares whereas those that suffer with sleep terrors are unable to remember their dreams. "In many cases, a child who has a night terror only needs comfort and reassurance. Psychotherapy or counseling may be appropriate in some cases. Benzodiazepine medications (such as diazepam) used at bedtime will often reduce night terrors; however, medication is rarely recommended to treat this disorder."

  • Reference: Owens, J. A, Kliegman, R.M., Behrman, R.E., Jenson, H.B., Stanton, B,F., eds (2007). Sleep medicine: In: Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; chap 18.
  • Submitter: Susan Mason


Treatment Summary: A group of forty five children participated in a pharmacological trial of L-5-HTP for the treatment of sleep terrors. Before treatment all were subjected to Medical and sleep history, Sleep diary for two months, EEG both sleeping and awake, and neurological exams, Repeat of exams and EEG after one month and Structured interview after six months. L-5-HTP was given at doses of 2 mg per kg a day for twenty days to thirty-one randomly selected patients. 93.5% (29/31) showed symptom improvement. After a six month period 83.9% (26/31) of children treated were symptom free as compared to the untreated group which had a 71.4 % persistent night terrors.

  • Reference: Bruni, O., Ferri, R., Miano, S., & Verrillo, E. (2004). l -5-hydroxytryptophan treatment of sleep terrors in children. European Journal of Pediatrics, 163(7), 402-7. doi:
  • Submitter: N/A
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