You’re sound asleep when you suddenly wake, filled with dread. You’re scared enough that you might sit up straight, shout, or scream \u2014 but when your bed partner asks what’s wrong, you have no idea and can’t remember.\nThis was probably no ordinary nightmare: It was a night terror.\nNight Terrors: More Than A Nightmare\nNight terrors are sleep disturbances that can occur in just about anyone, though they are most likely to affect children between ages 3 and 7. Night terrors are different from nightmares: Unlike a nightmare, a night terror is not technically a dream, but instead a sudden, fearful reaction that happens during sleep. Nightmares tend to occur in the early morning hours, while night terrors usually take place between the hours of midnight and 2 a.m.\nNightmares can have obvious triggers, including watching a scary movie or TV show, reading a frightening book, or simply having a bad day. In comparison, night terrors have no known cause, although lack of sleep, a fever, sleeping away from home or in a new environment, and periods of emotional stress can play a role.\nIn adults, alcohol use may increase the odds of having a night terror.\nRELATED: Is Sleeping Beauty Syndrome for Real?\nNight Terrors in Kids\nIf your child experiences a night terror, you’ll likely know it \u2014 these sleep problems are difficult to ignore. The signs of a night terror in a child are similar to those in adults, but can be more amplified. Observing someone having a night terror can be frightening in itself because of the dramatic signs. These may include:\n\nScreaming, shouting, or yelling\nSitting up in bed, thrashing around, or other violent movements\nUnawareness of surroundings\nSweating, faster breathing and heartbeat\nDilated pupils\nInability to be comforted or awakened\nNo memory of the event, which may last 10 to 20 minutes\n\nKids who are prone to night terrors also tend to sleep walk.\nRELATED:\u00a0Infographic: 6 Common Sleep Disorders\nPreventing Night Terrors and Sleeping Easier\nMost children who experience night terrors will eventually outgrow them. In the meantime, you may be able to reduce the odds of night terrors in your children (and yourself) with the following steps:\n\nTry to reduce sources of stress and manage your reaction to it.\nEstablish and maintain a regular bedtime.\nDon’t stay up too late.\nSeek out therapy if necessary.\n\nIf night terrors significantly disrupt sleep, contact your physician \u2014 you don’t need to feel like you’re living in a horror movie. The UPMC Center for Sleep Medicine offers care for both adults and children suffering from night terrors.