It is not known why some children get night terrors and others don’t. The important thing to know, though, is that you as a parent did nothing to cause them! Unfortunately some children are born prone to getting them. In fact, night terrors can often run in families.
Getting your child on a regular bedtime and wake routine each night is one of the most important things you can do to help minimize night terrors. This pattern of getting your child to sleep easily and on time is known as “sleep hygiene”. It can be very hard to achieve good “sleep hygiene” but there are some tips you can follow.
Night terrors are made worse when a child is overtired. Children need a lot of sleep, as shown in this chart by the National Sleep Foundation. In addition, they also need a consistent wake time and bedtime. Your child’s Circadian Rhythm, which is the pattern of wake and bedtimes, controls how they feel throughout the day and how well they sleep. You can keep this regular by keeping wake and bedtimes within 30-minute windows, For example, if you want your child awake at 7am, you’d want to keep the wake time between 6:45-7:15am on a daily basis.
The environment can play a role in protecting sleep and helping your child get the sleep he or she needs. It’s important to make sure the room stays cool, dark, and quiet. Think about the ideal sleep situation for you and replicate that for your child. It likely would not be a hot, bright room with lots of noise.
If your child is still taking naps, the timing of naps can play a role in his or her ability to achieve optimal sleep at night. Depending on the timing of naps, moving bedtime slightly earlier or slightly later may be helpful.Previous: Symptoms Next: Diagnosis