Nightmares vs. Night Terrors In Children: What Is The Difference?

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Parents know how scary nightmares can be for their little ones and they know that it usually leads to disturbed nights consoling an upset child or ending up bringing them into your bed and maybe your night’s sleep ends there. 

But what if I was to tell you that there was something much worse than nightmares… that very few parents know about? And what if your child is having these but you’re mistaking them for nightmares? 

Well, it would result in undetected exhaustion, poor quality sleep and can be quite dangerous. Now, the scariest part isn’t that this little known terror exists, it’s that it’s so hidden that children don’t even know it’s happening to them! 

That means that most little ones, and this may include yours, can have years of disrupted sleep causing poor mood, increased illness, lower concentration and slower learning.

So what is this hidden monster that’s causing havoc on your child? It’s… night terrors! But don’t worry because in this video we’re going to talk about the difference between nightmares and night terrors. 

And more importantly we’re going to uncover the secrets that science has just started to reveal, that will enable your little one to overcome nightmares and night terrors so that your child can enjoy deep and nourishing sleep which will benefit every aspect of his or her health, development and happiness as well as yours as you enjoy undisturbed nights too!

The first thing we need to do is talk about what a nightmare is and how it differs from a night terror. So a nightmare is basically a very bad dream where your little ones wake up, feel scared, upset and seek reassurance. 

Night terrors on the other hand are a confused state between awake and asleep where your child may appear distressed, thrash about, shout out and if you try to comfort them before the episode passes, they look almost as though they’re looking right through you.

So they do have some similarities but the key difference here is that….

You wake from a nightmare and it can be recalled in the morning whereas a night terror won’t be remembered and if your child wakes from an episode, they will feel confused but have no idea why or what just happened.

And even more importantly, how you handle each of them is completely different! You see, with nightmares you want to respond by changing your child’s sleep environment or giving them something they wouldn’t usually have in the night because that will lead to a reliance on that thing to get back to sleep, it may become something they hold out for, expect or even try for with new unwanted behaviours. 

The reality is, that you should handle it by offering your loving comfort and reassurance by their bedside because this will allow them to calm and settle back to sleep in their own space and not reinforce any fears of being alone or being in their crib or bed which, in turn will lead to a better sleep for them and a better sleep for you when you return to your bed.

However with night terrors, you need to hold back, monitor the episode and not intervene… because if you fail to do this, you could add to the confusion and become a part of it. You might scare your child as a figure in their confused state or you might wake them from the state and cause further upset.

So I hope by now, you understand not only how to tell the difference between a night terror and a nightmare… but also how to handle each of them optimally so that your child gets the highest quality sleep every single night! 

But I want to hear from you… does your child get nightmares or night terrors? Let me know in the comments below!

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