Anxiety Depression Treatment

Night Terrors in Kids


A night terror is a sleep disruption that seems similar to a nightmare, but with a far more dramatic presentation. Night terrors are sleep disturbances in which a child may suddenly bolt upright in bed, cry, scream, moan, mumble, and thrash about with his eyes wide open, but without being truly awake. Though night terrors can be alarming for parents who witness them, they're not usually cause for concern or a sign of a deeper medical issue. The sleep disorder of night terrors typically occurs in children aged 3-12 years, with a peak onset in children aged 3½ years. Night terror symptoms are frequent and recurrent episodes of intense crying and fear during sleep, with difficulty arousing the child.

During a typical night, sleep occurs in several stages. Each is associated with particular brain activity, and it's during the rapid eye movement (REM) stage in which most dreaming occurs. Night terrors happen during deep non-REM sleep. A night terror is not technically a dream, but more like a sudden reaction of fear that happens during the transition from one sleep phase to another.

Causes of Night Terror

Scientists think night terrors may be caused by over-arousal of the central nervous system, which regulates brain activity. Most children outgrow them, probably as their brains mature, although some adults do report having night terrors when under stress. This suggests that stress could also trigger night terrors in little ones.

The cause of night terror may include Glitches in sleep patterns. And a chemical trigger causes the brain to 'misfire'. These misfires can be caused by many factors such as stress and various other medical ailments.

How to Handle Night Terrors

There are some tips that will help parents to handle their children’s night Terror.

Do try to minimize stress in your child life

Be sure your child is not exposed to parental loud voices or other emotional stressors. Use "positive discipline" as opposed to spankings, yelling, timeouts or other stressful discipline. Minimize schedule changes and nights away from home. Give some tips for helping kids to manage stress.

Prevent your child from becoming overtired

Overtired may also be the reason for night terror. Make sure your child has a regular bedtime routine and is getting sufficient sleep. One way to insure that is to move their bedtime a bit earlier each night. Moving to an earlier bedtime not only helps them fall asleep more easily at night, but also lessens the possibility of over-arousal.

Wake your child up before the time that he usually has a night terror

This is also a thought to interrupt or alter the sleep cycle and prevent night terrors from occurring. By changing the time of sleeping will be helpful to get rid of that.

Eliminate TV

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that kids younger than 24 months should not watch TV because it negatively impacts brain development, and TV has also been shown to be stressful for little ones, who think the conflicts dramatized on the screen are real.

Disclaimer: This site is for educational purposes only. The information provided should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. If you have, or suspect you have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.