We usually think that during nighttime, there is nothing really going on for us but to sleep. However, we can also encounter a lot of unusual and unfortunate things when nighttime sets in. Some examples of these are night terrors and nightmares. Most of us would usually think of these terms as similar; however, night terrors and nightmares are actually quite distinct from each other. For us to know these things better; let us try to discuss night terrors VS nightmares.
What are nightmares? Nightmares are simply defined as scary or terrifying dreams. Although this can happen to anyone, nightmares are considered to be common among children. Most nightmares in children come very late at night or sometimes early in the morning. Children will usually wake up and will seek comfort from their parents. Once nightmares happen, most children will already find it hard to go back to sleep. Some children may also have the same dream over and over again for a number of consecutive nights.
What are night terrors? Night terrors on the other hand are also described as bad dreams; however, these usually happen in time of deep sleep. When a child experiences night terrors, he or she will wake up screaming, crying or shouting. Most children will also experience heavy sweating and rapid breathing. Aside from this, children with night terrors may react while still at their sleep. This is the reason why whenever they are waked up by their parents; they usually cannot remember or identify what caused them terror. Some children may also be difficult to wake after experiencing night terrors. This kind of night condition can also lead to other sleep problems such as sleep walking or talking.
Toddlers and preschoolers are the ones who are usually prone to having these night problems. However, most children will usually experience night terrors and nightmares sometime in their childhood. Nevertheless, the incidence of night terrors is quite lesser compared to nightmares, which occurs only to 5% of children. So what are the other differences between nightmares and night terrors?
Children with nightmares are said to be awake and alert after experiencing it. Children are also able to talk about their dreams and will usually seek the comfort of parents. Children suffering from night terrors will most likely become violent and uncontrollable, perhaps screaming. However, night terrors do not wake up children and will most likely wake up without any memory of the incident. Nightmares should be managed by parents by answering directly to the call of the child. Reassuring the child and telling him everything’s okay will definitely ease up his or her fear, which can prevent trauma. Night terrors, on the other hand be approached without restraining the child. Doing this can add injury, which can further worsen the situation. It is however, important that parents must stay at the child’s side in order to assure safety.
These are just some of the important facts pertaining to nightmares and night terrors. Now we are aware of the differences between the two as well as the appropriate way in handling the situation as parents.