Night terrors in children


Night terror is a type of sleep disorder in children and some adults, characterized by sleep walking. There is a difference between nightmares and night terrors; nightmares do not have recall value in children and can happen in the first two or three hours of sleep.

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Though children even grow out of night terrors when they reach adolescence, they can be quite harrowing for the children as well as parents during childhood.

Night terrors can be so scary for children that they often wake up in the sleep and sit upright with fear in their eyes, they may scream or flail their hands in terror. The eyes are wide open and they may appear disoriented for a while, so much that they would not able to recognize their own parents. They begin to sweat, the heartbeats become rapid and the also experience short breaths

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Symptoms of night terror in children

Children with night terrors exhibit the following symptoms

1. Sitting upright with a startled expressions and eyes wide open with fear

2. Shouting and shaking hands and rapidly, kicking and trashing as if the object of fear is still in the room

3. Some children may even get up from the bed and rush to the other room or a corner of the house

4. There is increased heart rate, confusion and the children may not be easily pacified in the first few minutes of the ‘shock’

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Causes of night terrors in children

1. Some studies reveal that night terrors may be passed on to the children genetically. A family history of people with anxiety disorders and depression can put the child at risk of night terrors

2. High amount of anxiety and pressure on the children to perform academically

3. Increased emotional stress or disturbance, due to an abusive or angry family member

4. Medication and prescription drugs

5. Lack of adequate sleep

6. Increased exposure to bright lights and noise

7. Fear or phobia or something which recurs when the child is asleep or trying to sleep

8. Migraines and headaches can also cause night terrors

9. Sleep disorders like sleep apnea may also cause the problem

Treatment of night terrors in children

Night terror can cause a lot of health problems in children including sleep deprivation frequently. This can cause them to sleep during the daytime, which can affect their grades. The bigger problem is niht time terror. They can also lower the self-esteem and confidence of children. Here are some of the treatment options

1. Medications are not usually prescribed to children but in more serious cases, tricyclic antidepressants and benzodiazepines may be given

2. Therapy and counseling can work if the night terrors are caused due to anxiety and lot of stress

3. Parents and teachers would do well by creating an atmosphere that increases the self-confidence of kids. This can largely reduce night terrors in children

4. Reduce causative factors like noise, lights and foreign environment that can cause disturbance in the sleep

5. Parents can also note the time or period in which night terrors in children happen and wake them before they experience it. This can change the sleeping pattern and then cure the problem.

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