Banishing Nightmares and Night Terrors
I have four children, so thought I knew how to deal with most kid-related dramas. But then my third child started having night terrors. After a month of him these frightening episodes I spoke to all my mummy friends and even had a chat with my GP. Thankfully I have been successful in minimising his night terrors I want to share what I’ve learned to help you and your kids.
What are Night terrors?
Night terrors (also known as sleep terrors) are episodes when children wake up suddenly at night and act very upset or agitated. They might scream and even jump out of bed. They might be sweating, breathing fast, disoriented, or have a racing heartbeat. During a night terror it can be quite difficult to calm your child down and can last anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes. They can be as frequent as 2 to 3 times per week and usually occur around 90 minutes after the child goes to sleep. Your little one won’t remember the night terror the next morning as it occurs during deep non-REM sleep.
What are nightmares?
Nightmares can be very scary, sad, or even upsetting dreams that wake your child. After a nightmare children often have trouble going to back sleep. Nightmares usually happen in the second half of the night when dreaming is more intense.
Tips on how to have a good night’s sleep
- For a nightmare, remind your child if was only a dream and not real. That she is safe and you are there for her.
- If it’s a night terror, stay and comfort your child until the episode stops, you should not wake her up and your child will go back to sleep.
- Have a set bedtime routine for your child.
- Keep your child’s bedtime and wake up time about the same everyday even on school and non school days.
- Make sure an hour before bed is quiet time eg; no TV technology or high energy activities
- Keep your child’s room dark and quiet (if scared of the dark use a night light, favourite toy or even a dream catcher).
- Use of diffuser with calming essential oils (lavender, frankincense, chamomile just to name a few) depending on the age of your child and their preferences.
- Create magical monster spray, you might be able to pretend to disappear those monsters away.
- Change in routine or schooling can often lead to sleep disturbances. Try to limit these, or talk through the changes with your child.
- Over tiredness (including young children not having a nap during the day) can cause sleep issues too, so try to ensure your child is having enough rest time.
- Keep a sleep diary to track your child’s disturbances, and their routines. You may find a common denominator that leads to a solution.
- If your concerned about your child talk to your doctor (bringing your sleep diary along is very helpful!). I wish lots of sweet dreams for everyone!
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