You might call out, cry, move around, or show other signs of fear and agitation. Most people fall right back asleep after a night terror. An estimated 2 percent of adults also experience night terrors.
I hope the following will help shed some light on the subject. People who have night terrors are often misdiagnosed. The most common one is a simple nightmare.
Night terrors are a form of sleep disorder in which a person partially awakens from sleep in a state of terror. A sufferer of night terrors experiences an activation of his or her fight-or-flight system. Night terrors usually occur during the deepest stage of sleep, which is typically the first half of the sleep cycle.
A night terror is a brief disruption of normal sleep in which the sleeper becomes terrified; it is like a nightmare but much worse. Afterwards, the sleeper usually returns to normal sleep without regaining consciousness. Night terrors, also known as sleep terrors and pavor nocturnes, tend to last between one and six minutes and are most common in children. Although distressing to those who witness them, the attacks are mostly harmless and most children grow out of them.
Back to Health A to Z. Many children experience nightmares and night terrors, but most grow out of them. They don't cause any long-term psychological harm to your child.
Night terrors occurring in adults have been linked to psychopathology. Recent descriptions of sleep panic attacks have raised questions about their relationship to night terrors. METHOD: Evaluations from a medically affiliated sleep disorders program were reviewed to identify adult patients presenting with events consistent with night terrors.
Night terrors, or sleep terrors, are a parasomnia condition in which the subject reacts to a foreboding sense of fear or terror by screaming, thrashing around or crying. They may also get out of bed and walk or run around, and adults are at a risk of performing violent acts during this time. The subject is still in a sleep-like state during night terrors outbursts and cannot be awoken without some difficulty.
Night terroralso known as sleep terroris a sleep disorder causing feelings of panic or dread typically occurring during the first hours of stage 3—4 non-rapid eye movement NREM sleep  and lasting for 1 to 10 minutes. Sleep terrors usually begin in childhood and usually decrease with age. Night terrors tend to happen during periods of arousal from delta sleepalso known as slow-wave sleep. However, they can also occur during daytime naps.
Nightmares are dreams with vivid and disturbing content. They are most common in children during REM sleep, but they can happen to adults as well. They usually involve and immediate awakening and good recall of the dream.