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Nightmares and Night Terrors

What are night terrors?

A night terror is a partial waking from sleep with behaviors such as screaming, kicking, panic, sleep walking, thrashing, or mumbling. Night terrors usually occur within two hours of the time a child goes to sleep. They are harmless and each episode will end in deep sleep. They are considered normal until age 6.

The following are common characteristics of a night terror:

How to help a child during a night terrors:

When to call your child's physician:

While night terrors are not harmful, they can resemble other conditions or lead to problems for the child. Consult your child's physician if you notice any of the following:

What are nightmares?

Nightmares are scary dreams that awaken children and make them afraid to go back to sleep. Nightmares may happen for no known reason, but sometimes occur when your child has seen or heard things that upset him/her. These can be things that actually happen or are make-believe. Occasional bad dreams are normal at all ages after about 6 months of age. Nightmares often relate to developmental stages of a child: toddlers may dream about separation from their parents; preschoolers may dream about monsters or the dark; school-aged children may dream about death or real dangers. Nightmares usually happen during the last third of sleep, during REM (dream time) sleep.

How to help a child with nightmares:

When to call your child's physician:

Consult your child's physician if you notice any of the following:

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