Night Terrors In Toddlers: Causes, Symptoms and Tips For Prevention

Updated at: Jul 08, 2020
Night Terrors In Toddlers: Causes, Symptoms and Tips For Prevention

Night terrors are common in kids but when they occur frequently, it is a matter of concern. Read this article to know all about night terrors in kids.

Chanchal Sengar
Children's HealthWritten by: Chanchal SengarPublished at: Jul 08, 2020

Does your toddler scream or cry violently in the middle of his sleep at the night? This is a sign of night terrors. First of all, let us tell you that there is a huge difference between night terrors and nightmares. The kid may scream or cry while asleep when he is seeing a nightmare. Whereas, he will wake up screaming loud with violent actions in the episode of night terrors. Frequent episodes indicate poor health of the baby and you must consult a doctor for relief. But first read all the details about night terrors in this article.

What Are Night Terrors?

Night terrors usually occur in the starting hours of sleep when the baby hasn’t slipped to deep sleep. This is why the kid is partially awake during night terrors. He may scream, cry or do violent actions such as thrashing his hands and legs. He would be partially awake but won’t respond to you. They are in a terror situation but surprisingly, they won’t remember anything after waking up. Just like how dreams cannot be recalled, the same thing happens with night terrors also.

Night Terror Causes

Here are some common causes of night terrors in babies:

  • Witnessing or dreaming a scary or distressing situation
  • Stress
  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Medication

These are general reasons but the problem could be deep which is inhibiting the baby’s brain to slip into a deep sleep. Such causes are:

  • Fever or High body temperature which may be interfering with the brain functions and not allowing the baby to sleep. Glitches in the brain caused by fever can trigger terrors.
  • The overfull bladder can disrupt their sleep causing night terrors
  • Noise or harsh lights which is not allowing the baby to sleep peacefully. Therefore, the parents must dim the lighting with no sound when the baby is sleeping to avoid night terrors.
 

Symptoms of Night Terrors

Check for night terrors in the baby with these signs:

  • Looks scared and petrified with weird expressions
  • Shouting, screaming and crying badly
  • Rapid breathing and excessive sweating
  • Moving limbs aggressively
  • Open eyes but not paying attention to you
  • Sleepwalking

Tips for parents to deal with a sleep terror

Here are some steps to take when your tiny tot gets a night terror:

Do not touch the baby: In most cases, babies go to sleep immediately after experiencing a terror. Even if it doesn’t happen, do not try to wake the baby as their mind is in an unstable state right now and this may complicate the condition. Let him wake up or fall asleep on his own.

Caress the baby post terror: After he is done screaming and shouting, you know the terror is gone. Wake the baby and comfort him post that by caressing his head or hugging him. This would make him feel secure. Try to put the child to sleep.

Also Read: Exposure To Air Pollution and Smoking May Cause Childhood Obesity

Tips for Prevention

  • Low the lighting of the kid’s sleeping room. You can install night lamps with dreamy lighting to help the baby doze off.
  • Keep the environment quiet.
  • Make the baby pee before putting to sleep so that his bladder is flushed.
  • Don’t let the baby sleep with an empty stomach. Feed him something before he sleeps.
  • Try to establish a bedtime routine with story-reading to help get a peaceful sleep.

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