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Nightmares, Night Terrors and Sleep Walking

October 30, 2018

Nightmares 

Nightmares are a part of normal development, often peaking between ages two and three. At this age, toddlers imaginations run wild, so they may have some difficulty distinguishing between reality and a fantasy. Nightmares occur towards the end of a sleep period, during REM sleep. Nightmares are often quite common to happen after a difficult event or a stressful experience happens in a child's life. Nightmares may also occur when a child is overtired, either because they don't sleep well or because of a disturbance in their routine. 

 

What does this look like?

Children waking up in the night crying. They will often stay in their beds, however the nightmare will wake them from their sleep. 

 

What can you do to help your child?

Reassurance, constant reassurance! Talk to your child in the morning about their nightmare, and see if you can figure out what it is that may be causing them. Ensure that they know you are there to support them through these scary times. If something is going on in their lives that may be effecting them, take time to think about and alter your approach to the situation, taking into consideration their age and their level of understanding. 

 

 

Night Terrors

Night terrors are less common than nightmares, and are more common in boys and can last into school years. They often occur during non-REM sleep (when they are coming out of a deep sleep) and usually within two hours of falling asleep. The biggest risk factor is being overtired, so this is why its so important that your child is having adequate sleep. Night terrors can last between 5 and 15 minutes and the child won't remember it, but obviously you will! Night terrors may occur when children are going through developmental milestones, if they are sick, if they have an erratic sleep schedule, or being stressed. 

 

What does this look like?

A child experiencing a night terror may scream, shout, sweat, appear anxious, and be inconsolable. Their eyes may be wide open, however they are not awake.

 

What can you do to help your child?

During a night terror, make sure your child is safe, however do not interfere, as this could intensify it. Try not to touch or pick up your child, as this often prolongs the terror. Simply sit near them, reassure them with your voice, and go back to bed once the terror has finished. Do not mention the terror in the morning. 

 

 

Sleep Walking 

Sleep walking occurs during non-REM sleep when the child is not dreaming. They usually occur within two hours of going to sleep, and the child won't remember that they did it the next morning. Sleep walking often runs in the family! 

 

What does this look like?

The child may look awake but usually appears confused and may be clumsy and do strange things. 

 

What can you do to help your child?

They may not need or want comfort from a parent, so instead just keep an eye on them until they return to their beds and make sure that they are safe. Sleep deprivation is a common cause of sleep walking, so make sure you are helping your child to get adequate sleep. 

 

Why Wait? 

+ If your child is experiencing either of these sleep disturbances, contact me today for some more information and advice on a sleeping plan. 

+ You may wish to seek medical advice or reassurance if nightmares or night terrors are reoccurring. 

+ To view my sleep packages, clink on the link below: 

https://www.soundasleepbaby.com/sleep-packages

 

 

 

 

 

 

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