Symptoms

Night terrors are very common

1.5 million children each year in the US will develop night terrors (also known as sleep terrors). A baby or toddler who is deep in sleep can suddenly act extremely scared and frightened as if they are in a hallucination. Night terrors are a recurring condition that can last from a few minutes up to 30 minutes and can occur nightly or less frequently. Night terrors can be chronic over years. Night terrors usually occur in the first 2-3 hours after a child initially falls asleep, while the nightmares that most people are familiar with normally happen throughout the night.

Other characteristic behaviors of a child undergoing night terrors are that he or she could:

  • Yell or scream after being deep asleep
  • Bolt upright in bed
  • Move around in bed, often uncontrollably or violently as if having a seizure
  • Appear agitated, with a rapid pulse
  • Be very difficult to wake up
  • Be impossible to calm or console during the night terror
  • Be confused if awoken
  • Get out of bed completely as if sleepwalking, possibly getting hurt

Children generally will be unable to remember the incident in the morning while adults might have impressions or fragments of dreams occurring during the episode.

Help! Night terror or nightmare?

This is a common question and is luckily a fairly simple question to answer. Children with nightmares can be easily awoken and brought out of the nightmare, while this is not the case with a night terror. Also children who have nightmares can remember the dreams and often tell the parents each scary detail! With night terrors children are not actually dreaming and will rarely remember what was going on during the night terror.Children who have night terrors are more likely to sleep walk and have bedwetting. If your child has these issues, then what look like seizures or panic attacks during sleep may more likely be night terrors.

Children who have night terrors are more likely to sleep walk and have bedwetting. If your child has these issues, then what look like seizures or panic attacks during sleep may more likely be night terrors.

The unspoken night terrors symptom -- the effect on the parents!

Perhaps the most important symptoms of night terrors are sleepy, cranky, and sometimes scared or concerned parents. While children don't remember night terrors and typically will seem fine the day after a night terror, you (the parent) are often left being concerned about your child. In addition, you may be tired after night terrors occur because you're either not able to fall asleep or are waking up to deal with the night terrors.

These are very common feelings to have as a parent and are also completely reasonable. Night terrors can be scary, dramatic events to witness and it is natural to be concerned. Rest assured, there are fortunately some great natural ways to improve night terrors that will leave both you and your child sleeping perfectly all night.

Next: Causes