Children's Hospital Colorado

Night Terrors in Children

Parents and caregivers know their kids best. That’s why we put families at the center of every care team.

Best Children's Hospital by U.S. News & World Report Pulmonology 2021-2 Badge

Get Care

Would you like to learn more about us?
Sleep Program
Are you ready to schedule an appointment?
Schedule an appointment
Do you have questions about your child’s condition?

What are night terrors?

Night terrors are an inherited disorder in which a child tends to have dreams during deep sleep from which it is difficult to awaken. These dreams can cause a child to shout, thrash and get out of bed. Night terrors can sometimes be disturbing to parents and caregivers, even though they are harmless to the child.

Unlike nightmares, after a night terror a child is not able to remember the dream when he or she awakens in the morning. Night terrors usually occur within two hours after bedtime. Each episode ends on its own during sleep. 

What causes night terrors?

Night terrors are inherited, meaning a child gets the disorder from his or her parents and the condition runs in families. They occur in 2% of children and usually are not caused by psychological stress. Being overtired can trigger night terrors. Sometimes, recurring night terrors are a symptom of other sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnea

Who gets night terrors?

About 2% of children have night terrors. The problem usually disappears by age 12 or sooner. The condition often runs in families, so children of parents who had night terrors may be more likely to develop them.

Next steps

Get to know our pediatric experts.

Andrew Liu, MD

Andrew Liu, MD

Allergy & Immunology

Paul Stillwell, MD

Paul Stillwell, MD

Pulmonology - Pediatric, Pediatrics

Heather Moore, CPNP-PC

Heather Moore, CPNP-PC

Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

Chelsea Hartman, DNP

Chelsea Hartman, DNP

Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

Patient ratings and reviews are not available Why?