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The Difference Between Night Terrors and Nightmares in Children

What You Can Do to Help Your Frightened Kids

Sleep disturbances are common among children. Parents can help their kids by knowing how to deal with these sleeping problems.

Before doing anything to help their frightened children, parents should be equipped with the basics of sleep problems, such as the difference between night terrors and nightmares. We’ll explain them all here.

 

What Are Night Terrors?

If your child wakes up partially screaming, panicking, thrashing, or kicking, he’s experiencing a night terror. Kids having night terrors are not really aware of what’s going on, as they are not fully awake. They wouldn’t have any recollection of the events the morning after.

What’s frightening about a night terror is that it causes confusion in young sleepers and their parents. Your child may look completely awake, but they’re actually asleep. You won’t hear any response from them when you talk to them, and they wouldn’t feel your presence even if their eyes are wide open.

Night terrors are common in kids ages 4 to 8 years old. The good thing is, they eventually disappear as children enter early adolescence. They usually occur during deep sleep, which is between the wee hours of 1 and 3 a.m, before rapid eye movement (REM) sleep takes place.

 

Steps to Take When Your Child Encounters Night Terrors

Since your child is unconscious during a night terror episode, the best thing you can do is to stay by their side. Other than that, here’s how you can help your child get through the night:

  • Make sure that the house is safe.

Keep sharp objects away; lock all doors and windows, and if you have stairs, see to it that the gate at the top of the stairs is closed.

  • Stay with your child after they wake up.

By the time the night terror episode has passed, you’re free to wake up your child. Hold them in your arms, comfort them, and keep them awake for at least 20 minutes, as there’s a chance that a second episode might occur if they fall back to sleep shortly.

  • Set a regular bedtime.

Extreme tiredness or a lack of sleep is a major trigger for night terrors. That’s why it’s important that your child gets quality sleep. Be sure that they follow a consistent bedtime routine.

  • Seek professional help.

If you noticed that your child’s night terrors seem to be recurring and getting worse, consult your child’s pediatrician, a child psychologist, or a sleep expert.

 

What Are Nightmares?

So, your toddler wakes up in the middle of the night crying out for you. You immediately go to their room, and you find them sweating profusely as you hear them mumbling about their dream. That’s when you know they just had a nightmare.

A major difference between nightmares and night terrors is the child’s awareness. Your child had a nightmare if they had no problem recalling their dreams and could even explain them in detail. Since your child is wide awake and conscious, they will need your company before they fall back to sleep.

Nightmares may vary for each developmental stage. For instance, toddlers may have recurring dreams about parental separation, while preschoolers may see zombies in their sleep.

Nightmares occur during REM sleep, normally between 4 and 6 in the morning. This is the period when the brain is most prone to vivid dreams. Unlike night terrors, nightmares can be experienced by people of all ages.

 

Steps to Take When Your Child Encounters Nightmares

Your child might have nightmares for several reasons. A scary dream might be the product of a bad event they recently witnessed or something they saw from a movie. They might even have a bad dream that featured their least favorite person.

To help your child overcome their nightmares, follow these simple tips:

  • Let your child talk about their bad dreams during the day while you listen intently.
  • Assure your child that their nightmares are nothing to be afraid of.
  • Spend time with your child before they go back to bed. Read a book together, tell them a funny story, or listen to a soothing melody.
  • Provide a “security blanket” to make them feel protected, and a stuffed toy to “watch over” them while they sleep.
  • Don’t allow your child to watch scary movies, especially before bedtime.
  • Check with a sleep specialist, a child psychologist, or your child’s pediatrician if the nightmares keep coming back.

 

Support Sick Kids with a Simple Auto Donation

Would you be kind and generous enough to help us save and transform the lives of critically ill children in your area? All you have to do is to turn over your old and no-longer-used vehicle to us at Kids Car Donations. In doing so, you’ll be making a difference in the lives of those kids. It would also be the easiest way for you to dispose of your unwanted car.

We’ll sell your donated vehicle and use the proceeds to support the child-focused programs of our charity partners. These IRS-certified 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations provide their young beneficiaries with comprehensive and quality medical assistance, emotional support, and other essential health care services.

You can donate almost any type of vehicle regardless of its age or condition. You can also make your donation anywhere in the U.S.

Not only will you get to play the hero to the ailing boys and girls in your community with your donation, but you’ll also get your share of rewards in the form of a top tax deduction. Expect to receive via mail your 100-percent tax-deductible sales receipt within 30 days after your donated vehicle is sold at auction.

For more information about our car donation program, check out our FAQs page. If you have any inquiries, feel free to call us at 866-634-8395 or leave us a message here.

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