Helping Your Child Cope With Night Terrors

A decade ago, going to school meant a fixed schedule, limited amount of homework and an hour or two of play time every evening.

These days, children have hectic schedules at school. More often than not, they also get an immense amount of homework to be completed on a daily basis. Playing outside seems to be a thing of the past, as TV and video games are more convenient nowadays.

At times like these, it is important for your child to get quality sleep every night. Getting 7-9 hours of sleep is also a must for children, so that they can be well-rested for the next day.

how to help your child cope with night terror

Kids who have a fixed bedtime tend to sleep better than kids who sleep late and wake up early. Despite having a fixed bedtime, the quality of sleep can get deteriorated due to certain sleep disturbances.

Sleep apnoea and nightmares are two of the common sleep disturbances. These issues can be dealt with a few environmental changes and medicines.

More serious sleep disturbances, such as night terrors, leave children severely disturbed for a longer while.

If you suspect your child to be affected with night terrors, then continue reading to know how to identify and cope with night terrors in kids.

how to help your child cope with night terror

Identifying Night Terrors

  • Night terrors appear to be similar to nightmares, but when observed closely, there are various differences. These severe and frightening attacks can disrupt the life of both the child and family.
  • Night terrors occur in the NON-REM sleep cycle as compared to nightmares that occur in the REM sleep cycle.
  • Night terrors usually occur within 90-100 minutes of the child falling asleep.
  • Children rarely remember the night terror. Nightmares, on the other hand, can be recalled.
  • Night terrors are typically categorised with children sweating profusely and screaming in their sleep. During such episodes, children might also breathe heavily and experience a racing heart.
  • Night terrors can start when a child is 3 years old. These terrors are typically outgrown once a child reaches 12-13 years of age.
  • Episodes usually last for 1-2 minutes. At times, it might take up to 30 minutes for your child to get adjusted and sleep well again.

how to help your child cope with night terror

    Coping With Night Terrors

    Night terrors cannot be fully treated with techniques such as medications and therapy. The symptoms can be reduced significantly by making a few changes in your child's life.

    • If your child is on any medicine that affects the central nervous system, then get these medicines evaluated. They can be a contributing factor.
    • Reducing stress is an effective way to reduce night terrors.
    • Past events that have caused severe stress to your child can be contributing factors. Therapeutic therapies might be effective in helping your child to get a good sleep.
    • Good quality sleep and adequate sleep is a must for children who are losing sleep time due to such disturbances. Sleep deprivation can only increase the onset and intensity of night terrors.
    • Natural remedies, such as Ashwagandha, are safe to be used as a general aid medicine. This medicine is available in a capsule form. It is safe to use this, as it is basically a naturally occurring adaptogen. Consulting your family physician before giving this medicine, for kids below the age of 7 years, is recommended.

    Also Read: How To Help A Daydreaming Child

    Also Read: Ways To Help An Absent Minded Child

    Read more about: kids, dreams
    Story first published: Tuesday, May 3, 2016, 17:00 [IST]
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