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Nightmares & Night Terrors

by The Kid's Doctor Staff

Just about every parent has been awakened by their child at night because of a nightmare or night terror. They are very common occurrences in toddlers and pre-schoolers and something that most children outgrow by the time they head off to school.

“Nightmares are just bad, scary dreams and they occur during REM sleep at the end of the night,” says pediatrician Dr. Sue Hubbard. She says with nightmares a child will wake up frightened and will usually have vivid memories of the dream. A child will be able to tell a parent about the dream and may have trouble going back to sleep because of it.

“Night terrors are totally different,” Dr. Hubbard says. “Night terrors scare the parents and they are not scaring the child, which is hard to understand.” Night terrors occur earlier in the night, normally during the first few hours of sleep. During a night terror, the child is not awake and when they do wake up they have no memory of it occurring. “ It can go on for a few minutes and then they go back to sleep or wake up and look around and go back to sleep. They have no fear, no anxiety, they just go right back to sleep. You on the other hand are trying to figure out what happened to your child. You can not comfort a child during a night terror, which is so terrifying as a parent, you can’t do anything,” she says.

Nightmares and night terrors are sometimes triggered by sleep deprivation. Dr. Hubbard says one way to help prevent them from happening is to keep your child on a regular sleep schedule, going to bed and waking up at the same time every day.

Related Posts on www.kidsdr.com

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