What Are Night Terrors? How Are They Different from Nightmares?

Have you ever woken up from a dead sleep, heart racing and sweating, terrified but unable to remember why? You may have experienced a night terror. Night terrors, also known as sleep terrors, are different from nightmares and usually happen during the first few hours of sleep. It is possible to experience one of these even if you own one of the most comfortable mattresses in San Diego. Although they can be alarming, night terrors are not dangerous and most children outgrow them. However, if you as an adult or another member of your household are suffering from recurrent dreams that are disrupting your quality of sleep, then this should not go ignored. 


Nightmares occur during REM sleep, and usually cause feelings of anxiety or terror. Night terrors are also called sleep terrors, and they occur during deep non-REM sleep. They cause greater autonomic arousal, including increased heart rate and sweating, than nightmares do. Night terrors are not as common as nightmares. They typically affect one to four percent of children, compared to six to ten percent of children who have nightmares. Many people do not even remember exactly what they dreamt about that caused them to feel such feelings of fear on their San Diego mattress:

Symptoms of night terrors include:

  • Sweating, throbbing heartbeat, heavy breathing, and typical symptoms of intense anxiety
  • Screaming or yelling during sleep
  • Kicking
  • Being difficult to awake during the episode
  • Being irritated, restless the next morning and not knowing or understanding why

Night terrors can also manifest in a person’s life as a result of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) or C-PTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder). C-PTSD refers to ongoing trauma as opposed to PTSD which is the result of one single event. They might have dreams of reliving the traumatic event over and over again. People may wake up from the dream feeling terrified, foggy, and confused throughout the day. If you believe this is the root cause of the problem, talk to your primary care doctor about receiving a referral for a specialist who specializes in diagnosing and treating trauma disorders. This will not just help you move on from the event in a healthy way, but also give you a better night’s sleep 

Night terrors can truly negatively affect every aspect of an individual’s life beyond just the occasional nightmare. If you find that you are waking up most mornings feeling anxious and unrested, resulting in your ability to work or manage your personal relationships becoming more difficult than ever before, it’s time to stop suffering in silence. Be open with your family members as well as your close friends about what you are going through. Reach out for help from a medical doctor as soon as possible. As you are treating the problem, be sure to also ensure that you are sleeping on the best mattress that you can get for your buck. If it’s time to replace your bed, come on over to Mattress Sale Liquidators today. We have been matching people just like you to the perfect mattresses in San Diego for decades. So please, give us a call to book an appointment at our San Diego location today at (619) 760-7031 or fill out the contact form directly on our website. We can’t wait to serve you!