Australian Family Physician
Australian Family Physician


Volume 38, Issue 5, May 2009

Kids that go bump in the night

Margot Davey
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Incomplete arousal from deep sleep in children causes night time disruption and can present as confusional arousals, sleep walking or night terrors. These nocturnal events are common in childhood but can be extremely concerning to parents and disruptive to families.
This article provides a framework for the initial assessment of children’s nocturnal events.
Occasionally night time disturbances are seizures. A framework discussing the clinical features of typical benign childhood events and how to differentiate them from seizure disorders is presented. Generally, sleep walking and night terrors are self limiting and children grow out of them. However, in some cases there are ongoing precipitants that are important to identify and treat.

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