I’m a nationally published sleep expert, journalist, and the mom of three young kids. I’ve been helping tired families sleep since 2007 (more about me here). Subscribe to The Well Rested Family for fresh news and tips on keeping your bunch happy and healthy. Thanks for stopping by!

SEARCH THIS BLOG

Find Me Here!

Tag cloud
10 month old sleep 11 month old 2 year old can't fall asleep 2 year old nap 3 year old stops napping 4 month old 45 minute naps 8 month old adults adults sleep alarm clock babies baby baby bedtime baby doesn't nap baby fall back baby nursing to sleep baby rolling at night baby short naps baby sleep baby sleep positioners baby sleep routine bad bedtimes bedroom too loud bedsharing bedtime bedtime baby bedtime books bedtime child bedtime for teens bedtime problem bedtime routine bedtime snacks bedtimes bedwetting best bedtime stories for kids big boy bed blackout curtains boost breastfed baby sleep through the night bsby cosleeping bumpers caffeine child child bedtime child can't sleep child sleeping in a tent childcare childhood fears and sleep children cosleeping cover story creativity crib cry it out cultural intelligence daycare daylight savings time Daylight Savings Time kid bedtime daylight savings time sleep DHA does exercise help kids sleep dropping a nap DST early waker early waking ebook education energy equality equally shared parenting exercise and kids exercise and sleep fall back falling back families family five month old naps five month old short naps five month old sleep five year old bedtime food getting baby to bed getting dad to help with bedtime Getting kids to bed getting kids to bed during the summer getting kids to bed when it's light out getting rid of the pacifier giveaway green Harvey Karp Hawaii health heart health tips help helping kids adjust to daylight savings time helping kids get to sleep after vacation Helping kids sleep in the summer helping kids sleep through the night helping twins sleep holiday how long should babies nap how long should bedtime take how much sleep do adults need how to get rid of nightmares how to help a preschooler nap how to stop nightmares humor immune system infant sleep insomnia kids kids always get sick kids and daylight savings time kids sharing bedrooms kids sleep questions Kindle king 5 large family late bedtime learning leg cramps light math Moms moving child to his own bedroom nap nap routine napping in arms naps new sibling newborn news night terror night waking nightlights nightmare nightmares nighttime dryness nurse to sleep association nutrition one year old overtied kids overtired overtired child overtiredness pacifier pajamas nightmares parenting parentmap pediatric restless legs syndrome potty training pregnancy and newborn preschool Preschooler problem problem solving product productivity pull ups putting kids to bed questions raising a boy robotic safety safey separation anxiety setting a bedtime for kids shared bedroom shared bedrooms Shopping short naps short sleeper six month old sleep skipped naps sleep sleep and learning sleep coach sleep coaching sleep consulting sleep expert sleep for moms sleep gadgets sleep help sleep hygiene sleep pregnancy sleep questions sleep regression sleep through the night sleeping during the summer sleeping well during pregnancy sleeping while camping soundproof spring forward standing and screaming in crib stress sugar summer summer bedtime swaddle teen teen bedtime Teenage brains television time change time zone adjustment toddler toddler 4 am toddler bed toddler leg cramps toddler naps toddler sleep toddlers toilet transition transition to one nap travel with kids tryptophan twins undertired up all night violence and kids violent video games and children waking warm bedroom hurts sleep weaning the swaddle winter women heart health won't fall asleep work worries

Entries in childhood fears and sleep (1)

Monday
Oct272014

Night terror myths and facts

It's Halloween—what better time to talk about terrible things that crop up in the dead of night? In the spirit of All Hallow’s Eve, I’d love to shed some light on the murky world of night terrors.

Nightmares and night terrors are often confused by parents, and they are indeed confusing. Both happen in the middle of the night, and both can be upsetting and disruptive to sleep. When your child starts screaming in the wee hours, when you’re groggy and your thinking is fuzzy, it can difficult to know exactly what to do.

Though night terrors and nightmares seem similar, they have some distinctively different characteristics than can help you figure out which your child is experiencing.

Myth: A night terror is just an intensely upsetting nightmare.

Fact: Night terrors differ substantially from nightmares. First, a nightmare will often cause a child to wake up in the middle of the night. During a night terror, the child is not awake. Though she may get up and sleepwalk, she won’t come and find you. And in the morning, she won’t remember a thing (because she was never awake).

Myth: A night terror is a horrible experience for a child.

Fact: While a child may have some upsetting memory of nightmare, they won’t remember a night terror. The experience is probably more upsetting for the parent who is trying to comfort their screaming child, than it is for the child.

Myth: It’s best to wake a child who is having a night terror.

Fact: “Don’t try and wake them up,” says Matt Woolley, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist who often works with children experiencing nightmares and night terrors. “Be calm and comforting, offer a gentle back rubbing. Once the child calms down, you can redirect him or her back to bed and maybe offer a glass of water. But do not force a drink of water, try to make them speak to you, or make them go to the bathroom.” Remember, the child is not awake.

Myth: All children experience night terrors at some point.

Fact: While nightmares are a near-universal childhood experience, true night terrors are much less common, affecting only about a quarter of children. That’s good news, because most children won’t ever have one.

Myth: Children with night terrors have psychological problems.

Fact: Though night terrors can be intense and upsetting, they don’t indicate underlying problems. “A child can be very happy and well-adjusted and still have a night terror,” notes Woolley.

Night terrors are no fun, and I hope they don't come knocking at your place this Halloween. Here's to a Halloween followed by sweet dreams!

I’m an award-winning parenting and health journalist, sleep coach, and mom of three. My articles about sleep, health, and parenting appear regularly in over 90 national and regional magazines and on television, and I've been featured by YAHOO Shine, MSN Health, the TODAY Show, and TODAY Moms. Can I help you? Subscribe to The Well Rested Family to have sleep news, tips, and tactics delivered to your inbox or feed reader by clicking here.

I offer sleep coaching on call for tired parents ready to make a change. Take the first step by booking your session here.

Need more sleep? My e-book Ready, Set, Sleep: 50 Ways to Help Your Child Sleep So You Can Sleep Too is chock-full of mom-tested solutions to help babies and toddlers start sleeping well, tonight!

My newest e-book Sleep Tight, Every Night: Helping Toddlers & Preschoolers Sleep Well Without Tears, Tricks, or Tirades is available now!