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Night Terrors

Night Terrors

Sleep disruption is parents' most frequent concern during the first years of a child's life. Half of all children develop a disrupted Sleep pattern serious enough to warrant physician assistance.

  • In children younger than 3½ years, peak frequency of night terrors is at least 1 episode per week.
  • Among older children, peak frequency of night terrors is 1-2 episodes per month.

If your child seems to be experiencing night terrors, an evaluation by the child's pediatrician may be useful. During this evaluation, the pediatrician may also be able to exclude other possible disorders that might cause night terrors.

Self-Care at Home

Parents might take the following precautions at home:

  • Make the child's room safe to try to prevent the child from being injured during an episode.
  • Eliminate all sources of Sleep disturbance.
  • Maintain a consistent bedtime routine and wake-up time.

Follow-up

Frequent follow-up care with the family to provide support and reassurance helps alleviate their anxieties.

Prevention

If your child has several night terrors, you can try to interrupt his/her Sleep in order to prevent the night terror.

  • Note how many minutes the night terror occurs from your child's bedtime.
  • Then, awaken your child 15 minutes before the expected night terror, and keep him/her awake and out of bed for 5 minutes. You may want to take your child to the bathroom to see if he/she will urinate.

Continue this routine for a week

Outlook

Night terror episodes are short-lived and usually occur over several weeks. Nearly all children outgrow night terrors by adolescence.

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