Which clinical history findings are characteristic of nightmare disorder?

Updated: Aug 08, 2018
  • Author: Daniel R Neuspiel, MD, MPH, FAAP; Chief Editor: Caroly Pataki, MD  more...
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Sporadic nightmares are common in children and usually occur in the middle of the night or early morning, when REM sleep is more common.

The content of nightmares is age related, with imaginary creatures most common in 7- to 9-year-old children and being kidnapped common in 10- to 12-year-old children. [3] Other common themes are loss of control and fear of injury.

Vocalizations may occur, but movement and autonomic symptoms are minimal.

When awakened, the child becomes oriented, can be calmed, and usually recalls the details of the dream.

Good history taking allows the clinician to rule out other sleep disorders such as night terrors.

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