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Night terrors: what to do and the difference between them and nightmares

Updated: Sep 6, 2021

Night terrors are a common disorder that affects around 3% of the population. They mainly affect younger children, more often in boys, and there is often a family history. Night terrors are periods of extreme agitation with manifestations of intense fear, crying and screaming at night.

The difference between night terrors and a nightmare is that the night terrors usually occur just a few hours after falling asleep. A nightmare tends to occur towards the end of the night or early morning, and will be remembered.

When dealing with night terrors, it is best to sit in their room and let your child know you are there for them, then try to let the terror pass. As horrible as it may seem, if you try to comfort them during the terror they may become more irritated and confused as they are not fully awake. They also may not be able to recall the incident the following morning.

For more information on night terrors check out the NHS website.

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