Helping your child with nightmares or night terrors, part two

Do you know the difference between nightmares and night terrors? In part two of this articles, learn about night terrors and what you can do for them.

Night terrors are different from nightmares. During night terrors, your child is asleep and is difficult to awaken. Night terrors can be hereditary and are often triggered by lack of sleep or fatigue. They usually happen within two hours of bedtime, at the same time each night. Although the experience appears traumatic, the night terror is harmless and eventually your child will go into a deep sleep. It is typically more traumatic for the parents. Some things you might notice if your child is having a night terror are:

  •  They seem afraid but you cannot awaken them
  • They do not appear to know you are with them
  • They may sometimes mistake objects or persons nearby for danger
  • Their eyes are open, but they do not see you
  • They may sit up or run around, screaming or talking wildly
  • They cannot remember the incident the next morning
  • Night terrors usually last for 10 to 20 minutes

 If you feel your child is having night terrors, note the time of it for several nights. Next, wake your child about 15 minutes before the usual time that night terrors occur. Keep them awake and out of bed for about 5 to 10 minutes. Continue the “wakings” for seven nights. If the night terrors return, repeat the seven night process. During the night terrors, do not attempt to wake them. Talk to them in a quiet, soothing voice. Be sensitive about touching or holding them; sometimes, touching may frighten them. Keep them safe if they are moving around. You should contact your physician if the night terrors last more than 20 to 30 minutes or continue even after you have repeated the seven-night solution.

Remember that your child will enjoy the most restful sleep when they have a calm, routine day with plenty of time to rest, opportunities for active play and good nutrition.

Look for part one of this article, which talks about dealing with nightmares.

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