Every parent’s heart skips a beat when they hear their child scream at night, and it can be an incredibly distressing experience for both parent and child.
This comprehensive content aims to shed light on a common yet misunderstood sleep disorder affecting children – night terrors.
Often confused with nightmares, night terrors are very different and significantly more intense, prompting episodes of extreme fear and distress in children.
They can occur at any age, but they are most commonly seen in children between the ages of 4 and 12.
The precise causes of night terrors are not yet fully understood, but factors such as stress, fatigue, and certain medications can trigger them.
This content also provides practical advice on how to handle a night terror episode and strategies to help prevent them.
Understanding the phenomenon is the first step towards better managing it, and ensuring your child gets the peaceful night’s sleep they need.
If night terrors persist, remember it’s important to seek professional help.
What are night terrors?
Night terrors, also known as sleep terrors, are episodes of screaming, intense fear and flailing while still asleep.
They’re usually seen in children between the ages of 4 and 12, but they can occur at any age.
These terrors are different from nightmares.
During a night terror, your child might sit up in bed and scream or shout, have a racing heartbeat, or even kick and thrash around.
Causes of night terrors
The exact cause of night terrors is unknown, but they can be triggered by things like stress, fatigue, or certain medications.
They may also be more common in children with a family history of sleep disorders.
Handling a night terror episode
During a night terror, it’s important to remember that your child is asleep and will likely not remember the event in the morning.
The best course of action is to stay calm, ensure they are safe, and wait for the episode to pass.
Trying to wake your child might only add to their fear and confusion.
Preventing night terrors
While there’s no surefire way to prevent night terrors, sticking to a regular sleep schedule, creating a relaxing bedtime routine, and ensuring your child gets enough sleep can help.
If your child’s night terrors continue or increase in frequency, it might be worth speaking to a healthcare professional.
Example of a night terror episode
One example of a night terror might be a child who suddenly sits up in bed, starts screaming, and appears terrified.
They might not recognize their parents or respond to attempts to calm them down.
After a few minutes, they lay back down and return to sleep, with no memory of the event in the morning.
When to seek professional help
If your child’s night terrors are causing significant sleep disruption or resulting in daytime behavior problems, it’s time to seek professional help.
A healthcare professional can help you find strategies to manage these episodes and ensure your child is getting the sleep they need.
Did this article help you understand why your child might be waking up screaming at night?
If so, please consider sharing it on your social networks.
Your sharing might help another parent struggling to understand their child’s nighttime fears.