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Sleep Terrors Differential Diagnoses

  • Author: Eve G Spratt, MD, MSc; Chief Editor: Caroly Pataki, MD  more...
Updated: Jul 06, 2016

Diagnostic Considerations

In addition to the conditions listed in the differential diagnosis, other medical conditions that interrupt sleep and can distress an individual should be considered, including the following:

  • Acute stress disorder
  • Gastroesophageal reflux
  • Hypnagogic hallucinations
  • Nocturnal frontal lobe epilepsy (NFLE)
  • Noncturnal panic attacks
  • Noncturnal seizures
  • Pinworms
  • Separation anxiety
  • Sleep breathing disorders
  • Sleep paralysis

Differential Diagnoses

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Eve G Spratt, MD, MSc Professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry, Division of Developmental Pediatrics, Medical University of South Carolina; Director, Pediatric Consultation Liaison Psychiatry, Medical University of South Carolina Children's Hospital at Charleston

Eve G Spratt, MD, MSc is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Katherine Harris, MD Medical University of South Carolina College of Medicine

Katherine Harris, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Medical Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Caroly Pataki, MD Health Sciences Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, David Geffen School of Medicine

Caroly Pataki, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, New York Academy of Sciences, Physicians for Social Responsibility

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Martha Karlstad, MD Chief Resident, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Medical University of South Carolina College of Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Mark Anderson, MD Lt Col, United States Air Force, 75th Medical Squadron

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Kevin P Connelly, DO Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Division of General Pediatrics and Emergency Care, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine; Medical Director, Paws for Health Pet Visitation Program of the Richmond SPCA; Pediatric Emergency Physician, Emergency Consultants Inc, Chippenham Medical Center

Kevin P Connelly, DO is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Osteopathic Pediatricians, and American Osteopathic Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chet Johnson, MD Professor and Chair of Pediatrics, Associate Director, Developmental Pediatrician, Center for Child Health and Development, Shiefelbusch Institute for Life Span Studies, University of Kansas School of Medicine; LEND Director, University of Kansas Medical Center

Chet Johnson, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Mary L Windle, PharmD Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose

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