Night terrors, also known as sleep terrors, are a common sleep disorder among children. They typically occur during deep non-REM sleep, often in the first few hours after the child falls asleep.
Night terrors can be very distressing for both the child and the parents, but there are several things you can do to help your child:
- Create a calming bedtime routine: Establishing a relaxing bedtime routine can help your child feel more comfortable and secure before going to bed. A bath, story time, and a calming lullaby can all help your child to relax and fall asleep more easily.
- Stick to a consistent sleep schedule: Try to maintain a regular bedtime and wake-up time for your child, even on weekends. This can help regulate their sleep cycle and reduce the likelihood of night terrors.
- Reduce stress: Stress and anxiety can trigger night terrors. Try to identify and reduce any sources of stress in your child’s life, such as school or family issues.
- Encourage relaxation techniques: Teach your child deep breathing exercises, visualization, or progressive muscle relaxation techniques to help them relax and fall asleep more easily.
- Limit screen time: The blue light emitted by screens can interfere with the body’s natural production of melatonin, making it harder to fall asleep. Limit screen time in the hours leading up to bedtime.
- Create a safe sleep environment: Make sure your child’s sleep environment is safe and comfortable. Ensure the room is dark, cool, and quiet, and consider using a nightlight if your child is afraid of the dark.
- Wake your child before the night terror: Night terrors often occur in the first few hours of sleep. Wake your child up 15-30 minutes before you expect the night terror to occur to disrupt their sleep cycle and prevent the episode.
- Be patient and supportive: During a night terror, your child may seem frightened, confused, or upset. Remain calm and reassuring, and avoid trying to wake your child up, as this can prolong the episode.
- Keep a sleep diary: Keeping a record of when night terrors occur can help you identify patterns and triggers, allowing you to better anticipate and prevent them.
- Consult a healthcare professional: If your child’s night terrors persist or are causing significant disruption to their sleep, consider consulting a healthcare professional for further guidance and treatment options.
Also check out our article “why goes my child get night terrors” for more information and useful tips.