Humans dream throughout their lives. Children, too, have active dreams. If a child is having a good dream, there is certainly nothing to worry about. However, you must also know a bit about bad dreams as well.
Bad dreams may be divided into two categories: nightmares and night terrors.
Night terrors are very different from nightmares and mostly occur at the age of 3-8. Children having night terrors may shout out or scream, thrash around and perhaps not even fail to recognize you if you come close to comfort them.
Such behavior tends to take place when a child emerges from the deepest stage of non-REP sleep or in moments of sudden awakening from a non-REM sleep, during which we have no dreams. In this case, their eyes are wide open, but they have not yet emerged from the deep stage of sleep and have no memory of what happened the next day.
Such episodes are common early on in the night and last several minutes (approximately 15 minutes). Night terrors may take place more than once over the course of a single night.
Night terrors are more common among children whose family members have already had such experiences or have a tendency towards so-called sleepwalking.
A variety of reasons may lead to night terrors:
- Exhaustion, flu or particular types of treatment that increase duration of deep sleep cycles.
- Anxiety, excitement, worry or unexpected noise.
The best you can do when your little one is experiencing night terrors is stay calm and wait for your child to calm down as well. Make sure not to interact with them or wake them up. It is very likely that they may fail to recognize you and be even more afraid if woken up. Night terrors may be an overwhelming sight to you, but they do not actually harm the child.
Since night terrors disappear without trace, you may want to have a general talk with your child to find out whether or not something is on their mind or making them particularly anxious.
Author: Likuna Khazaradze