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Night Terrors


Night Terrors

Dr. Megann Sauer
Boys Town Pediatrics

Night terrors are a benign sleep disorder in children that can occur usually around the ages of one to age eight.  Night terrors are when children will wake up in the middle of the night usually around two hours after falling asleep.  They can sometimes be screaming, up wandering around, and the children do not recognize you and although they appear to be awake, they are really not.  Children's eyes can be open during night terrors which can at first seem very frightening and confusing but they really will have a hard time recognizing you or following directions. 

So we don't truly know what causes night terrors, but we do know that when children are sometimes short on sleep or sleep deprived that that can make it more prevalent. 

The best way to treat a night terror is to offer calm reassurance to your child.  Don't try to wake your child up.  Usually just turn on the light, speak in soft muted tones.  Sometimes hold their hand and the goal is to get them to go back to sleep as quickly as possible. 

One of the main triggers of night terrors is sleep deprivation so if you can make sure the child is well rested that is the best way to try to prevent them.  Night terrors can affect about two percent of the pediatric population.  Most children do grow out of night terrors usually once they get into the older school-age groups we tend to see them less frequently. 

​​Night terrors can be a very scary situation for parents. Dr. Megann Sauer, Pediatrician with Boys Town Pediatrics, explains what parents can do to help their child during a night terror and what can help prevent night terrors from happening.