Nightmare disorders in children

Sriram Ramgopal*, Marcin Zarowski, Sanjeev V. Kothare

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Nightmares are defined as episodes of awakening from REM sleep with accompanying disturbed mentation, which may involve emotions such as fear, anxiety, anger, sadness, disgust, or other dysphoric states. Nightmares are common events in the pediatric population. Approximately half of 3–6-year-old children experience these frightening events. Nightmares are often associated with childhood anxiety disorder, and other psychiatric conditions including posttraumatic stress disorder, affective disorders, psychotic disorders, Tourette’s syndrome, and personality disorders. Nightmares are also more common in children taking a variety of prescription and recreational medications. The differential diagnosis of nightmares includes nocturnal seizures and night terrors. Diagnosis of nightmares can usually be made by history alone. Treatment involves reassurance and lifestyle modifications. Several studies have shown the efficacy of other treatments, such as cognitive behavioral therapies or hypnosis, though these treatments have not been systematically evaluated in children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationParasomnias
Subtitle of host publicationClinical Characteristics and Treatment
PublisherSpringer New York
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781461476276
ISBN (Print)9781461476269
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013


  • Bad dreams
  • Disturbed dreaming
  • Night terrors
  • Nightmares
  • Parasomnias

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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