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What to Do If Your Kids Have Night Terrors

By Sara Butler

Night terrors happen to everyone, though it's kids that are famous for experiencing these nighttime disturbances. Night terrors usually involve fear, shouting, or thrashing during sleep. It can cause kids to wake from sleep afraid, taking a physical as well as a mental toll. Here's what you need to know about night terrors, the risk factors, and what you can do to help your little sleeper.

Is It a Nightmare or a Night Terror?

You may think that night terrors and nightmares are the same things, but they are different. Nightmares are experienced more frequently than night terrors. Nightmares are when you have actual visions of things in your dreams that instill fear. It can be difficult to get a child back to sleep after a nightmare because of what they saw in their dreams and how real it was.

Night terrors differ because they happen during non-REM sleep. There are no vivid visions that accompany the intense feelings of fear or terror. There are physical signs such as thrashing, trembling, and breathlessness that can make the whole experience scarier. Kids often don't remember why they're scared when they wake up, they just know that they wake up they're panicking and scared.

The Causes of Night Terrors

Night terrors can stick around up until a child is 12, but when they are experiencing them, it can take a toll on both them and their parents. Some factors that can contribute to children experiencing night terrors include:

  • Illness
  • Stress
  • Head injuries
  • Being overtired
  • Fever
  • Being in a new sleeping environment
  • New medications
  • Too much caffeine
  • Anxiety disorder
  • Lack of sleep
  • Depression

What You Can Do

Night terrors usually resolve on their own. But if your child has night terrors along with other issues such as sleepwalking, then you should probably consult a doctor in order to keep your child safe. When your child is going through a night terror, the best thing you can do is to reassure them that they're safe. Repeat statements that are soothing to them and provide physical comfort. You don't usually need to wake them to snap them out of it. You can also make sure to avoid caffeine before bed, create a safe and comfortable sleeping environment, practice a healthy sleep routine, and help them relax before bed.

You can help your child through night terrors, it's simply a matter of knowing what to do!

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Shiloh, Ill.

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