Coping with night terrors
Night terrors usually start between the ages of 3 and 8. Children may scream, shout, and thrash around in panic, or even jump out of bed. Unlike nightmares, your child may not remember night terrors in the morning.
Night terrors usually happen soon after going to sleep, can last for up to 15 minutes, and may happen more than once during the night. You may also notice their eyes are open, but it’s important to remember they may not actually be awake during an episode.
Most children grow out of night terrors and they don’t cause any long-term, psychological harm to your child.
Handling night terrors
- Wait for the child to calm down by themselves. As long as they’re safe, don’t try to intervene by waking, comforting or interacting with them. They may not recognise you, which can be more distressing.
- Wake them after the episode and then settle them back to sleep. Don’t mention the episode, as they won’t remember it.
- If night terrors happen at the same time each night, wake them 15 minutes before to disrupt their sleep pattern. Do this over the course of 7 days. This may be enough to eliminate the terrors without affecting sleep quality.
- Most children grow out of having night terrors – but get medical advice if you’re worried about your child’s health or safety, or feel you need more support.
- It might help to create a relaxing bedtime routine.