Behavioral intervention for childhood sleep terrors.
Sleep terrors involve a sudden arousal from slow wave sleep accompanied by screaming, crying, and other manifestations of intense fear. Although many children exhibit isolated sleep terror episodes, a few experience these sleep difficulties on a chronic basis. These frequent sleep terrors can lead to a great deal of concern as well as disruption in sleep for other family members. We conducted a study of the effectiveness of one behavioral intervention (scheduled awakenings) for the sleep terrors of three young boys. The boys (5, 6, and 9 years old) had a several-year history of sleep terrors, each more than 2 years. Scheduled awakenings involved arousing the child from sleep approximately 30 minutes before expected sleep terror episodes. Results through a 12-month follow-up using a multiple baseline across children indicated that this intervention quickly and durably reduced the frequency of their nighttime difficulties. Scheduled awakenings are a potentially useful nonmedical intervention for chronic sleep terrors.
Durand, V.M., & Mindell, J.A. (1999). Behavioral intervention for childhood sleep terrors. Behavior Therapy, 30, 705-715. doi: 10.1016/S0005-7894(99)80034-3
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