Night terrors in children are a lot more different from the commonplace nightmares. Night terrors show frequent symptoms and they also have recurring episodes of intense crying and even intense fear when you try and put them to sleep and you may have difficulty when you try to arouse the child. Usually children between the ages of 3 and 12 years may experience this.
How common are night terrors?
An estimated 1% to 6% of children experience night terrors. The disorder usually resolves during adolescence.
What are the causes of night terrors?
- Stressful and/or traumatic life events
- Sleep deprivation
- Medications that affect the brain
What are the common symptoms of night terrors?
- Frequent and recurrent episodes of intense crying in sleep
- Difficulty arousing child
- Increased heart rate
- Increased breathing rate
- Children will not recall a night terror and cannot remember the episode next morning
What happens during a night terror?
Usually a night terror occurs about 90 minutes after falling asleep. The child could sit up on the bed and scream, but while they seem awake, they are confused, disoriented and unresponsive. They are not aware of the parents’ presence and usually will not talk.
Most episodes will only last a few minutes but they may also go on for up to 30 minutes sometimes. Since the child has a disturbed sleep, he or she may appear tired the next day and also may have decreased attention span. If you are worried, talk to your child’s doctor. Therapy may be needed to help your child.