A couple a years ago I was sleeping peacefully in my apartment when I was suddenly awoken by the loud yell of my roommate across from me. I sat up and noticed that my roommate was standing on his bed with his eyes wide open and fixated on the ground. I remember him yelling "What is that?" a few times before he finally calmed down and slipped back into bed. I had no idea what just happened it scared the heck out of me. When morning came, I asked him what happened the night before. He said that he had no recollection of what happened, but he told me that he suffered from night terrors. I had never heard of them before, so I immediately went to Wikipedia to find out more about this strange phenomenon.
Night terrors, also known as Pavor nocturnus, are defined in our textbook as "sudden waking episodes characterized by screaming, perspiring, and confusion followed by a return to deep sleep." According to the National Institutes of Health, night terrors are most common in boys ages 5 -7 and happen more seldom to girls. For children who experience night terrors the episodes generally decrease significantly by age 10. In rare cases it can happen into adulthood, with my roommate example as proof. Night terrors are are usually triggered by lack of sleep, sickness, or high stress levels. That being the case, terrors can be reduced by getting more sleep and by reducing stress level. Benzodiazepine medicines are also used for treatment.
I could not find information on the frequency of night terrors in sufferers. The night terrors as extreme as the one I described only happened about once every couple of months to my roommate. But every couple of weeks or so I would hear my friend talking in his sleep, and he usually talked about telling someone to stop doing something or asking for help. I always felt bad for my roommate. I wanted to wake him up during these episodes but I was afraid of how he would react. I am curious about whether or not it's okay to wake up some during a night terror episode. It was strange that my friend was never aware that he had a night terror unless I told him about it. I hope night terrors are researched more to find out what actually happens in the brain during one.