Night terror (pavor nocturnes) is a sleep associated problem that is found commonly among children. Though it is usually found in children aging between two and six, it can occur to children of all age groups. Parents often get scared and tend to overreact to this situation.
Actually, the symptoms of night terrors are so frightening that overreaction from the part of parents is quite normal. Children are usually described as “bolding upright” with wide opened eyes and letting out wild cries of panic. They show autonomic signs such as panting hard and sweating heavily. Heart beat also increases naturally. Children seem to be in a state of utter confusion and might not even recognise their mother. This stage lasts for a maximum of half an hour after which they go back to sleep.
Parents are supposed to behave like “adults” in such a traumatic situation. Giving the child maximum comfort and making him feel secure is what should be done. Let him go back to sleep as soon as possible. Instead of pacifying him, if you try to wake him up by yelling, he will surely get all the more terrified.
Night terrors should not be confused with night mares. In case of night mares, the child will be fully awake within seconds and can be easily comforted. Night mares usually happen to older children and even to adults. Night terrors do not get recorded in the child’s memory and he will have forgotten it completely by the time he gets up in the morning.
Sleep medications should not be self-administered. A practical solution is to waken up the child before the usual time in which he gets sleep terrors. By breaking his continuous sleep, night terrors can be considerably checked. Most children outgrow night terrors with the passage of time. Sticking to a good bedtime schedule and ensuring that the child is getting adequate rest are other ways to bring night terrors under control.