Night terrors happen during deep, non-dreaming sleep. A child may cry, whimper, flail and even jump right out of bed. Much like sleep walking, his eyes may be wide open, but he is not awake or aware of you.
A night terror is very similar to a nightmare but with a far more dramatic presentation.
Nightmares happen during dream sleep and a child will normally have a fairly clear idea of what scared them. While night terrors occur in non-REM sleep and aren’t so much scary dreams, but more like a sudden shock of fear that happens as you child goes from one sleep phase to the next. They are known to last several minutes and longer.
Often night terrors are caused by an over-arousal of the central nervous system during sleep. Some children may inherit this over-arousal tendency, stemming from a family member who also has experienced night terrors or sleep walking.
Parents often feel helpless not being able to sooth their child during an episode. But it is best not to try and wake anyone having a night terror. The episode will end and your little one will be back comfortably to sleep.
While there is no treatment for terrors, here are a few things you can do to help prevent them:
- Reduce child’s stress
- Establish a bedtime routine thats simple and relaxing
- Make sure your child gets enough rest
- Prevent your child from staying up too late and becoming overtired
If you are concerned for your child, feel free to contact Alaska Sleep Clinic with any questions.