Our son has been struggling with night terrors for the past half year or so. In our case, it seemed to be caused by some underlying stress (his biological father has been completely out of the picture for 3 years and I just married his mother this spring).
Tonight he had another panic attack (he has recently started calling me Dad, resulting in some confusing feelings). When he woke up, he was talking semi-coherently (as is usually the case) and said he wanted chocolate.
So we gave him a little piece of dark chocolate. He ate it and came to.
It's a much nicer way to wake a child than ice on the feet or a spritz of water... so if you're facing a child gripped in a semi-conscious nighttime panic, try a little bit of dark chocolate. (But be sure it's too small to choke on!)