6 years ago
What are night terrors?
Night terrors occur in at least 5 percent of young children, and can start as early as 9 months. These mysterious disturbances happen during deep, non-dreaming sleep. A child in this state will cry, whimper, flail, and even bolt out of bed. Though his eyes may be wide open, he's not awake and isn't aware of your presence. Once the night terror (which can last anywhere from a few minutes to half an hour or more) is over, your child will return to a sound sleep and have no memory of the incident in the morning.
How are night terrors different from nightmares?
Nightmares happen during rapid eye movement (REM) or dream sleep. A child who's had a nightmare is likely to have a fairly clear idea of what scared him, though he probably won't be able to articulate his fright until he's about 2. He may also be afraid to fall back asleep, and in the morning, he'll probably remember that he had a bad dream.
What should I do when my toddler has a night terror?
Of course, your first instinct will be to comfort him, but your efforts will most likely be futile (remember, he's not really awake and he's not aware of your presence). You just have to wait it out and make sure he doesn't hurt himself. Don't speak to him or try to soothe him, and don't try to shake or startle him awake or physically restrain him — all of which could lead to more frantic behavior. In 15 to 20 minutes, your child should calm down, curl up, and fall into a deep sleep again
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