There are several factors that can cause night terrors in children, including genetics, exhaustion, stress, and even some medications. Jennifer C. Christensen, MD, Pediatrician at ARC Bee Cave, explains the many aspects of night terrors in this DocTalk video. She covers such topics as at what age these commonly occur, what parents can do to help their children, and when it is a good idea to discuss this issue with your pediatrician.
Dr. Christensen says, "The best way to stop night terrors as a parent is to make sure we always have very good sleep hygiene. That means having a very nice bed routine which includes things like a bath time, brushing teeth, and reading a story."
Learn more about what to do if your child is suffering from night terrors in this video or read the transcript below.
Night terrors is something that happens in the toddler years, elementary school, and maybe even a little into middle school. A night terror tends to be more in the beginning of the sleep cycle, so during non-REM sleep; it's going to happen about an hour and a half or so after they've fallen asleep. It tends to be pretty brief because they're thrashing about in their bed or yelling and screaming.
What can cause night terrors?
Night terrors can be caused by genetic factors; it tends to be more inheritable family members will have had those experiences. They can be brought on if a kid is over-tired, if they are having some stressors in their life, as well also medications.
What to do if your child is walking around during a night terror
If your child is walking around and having a night terror, you can gently guide them back to bed, get any hazards out of their way, you can talk to them – it's just important not to try and wake them up. Get them back into their bed.
How to stop night terrors
The best way to stop night terrors as a parent is to make sure we always have very good sleep hygiene. That means having a very nice bed routine. Oftentimes that includes things like a bath time, brushing teeth, and reading a story.
No screens before bedtime
It's really important to get away from screens at least an hour or two before bedtime; it's not good to have screens in the bedroom. Keep waking time at a very consistent level or time, making sure they're just waking up at the same time every day no matter what the night looked like.
When to talk to your pediatrician
I think it's important to talk with your pediatrician about night terrors if they're not following the typical patterns. For example, if they're lasting too long or if the child seems especially out of it. If you feel like they're being unsafe, if you feel like there might be any seizure activity, or if there might be any breathing issues – those are certainly things that you can talk with a pediatrician about.
If there's any thoughts that maybe there could be a link to depression or anxiety, which can happen especially in the age of COVID-19, there's a lot of very anxious kids out there, absolutely come in and see your pediatrician.
If you are concerned about any night terrors or nightmares, we can talk you through those types of scenarios and give you pointers and make sure everything is okay with your child.
Make an appointment today
Dr. Christensen is currently accepting new patients. To make an appointment, call ARC Bee Cave at 512-676-2500, or schedule an appointment online.