Only very recently I came to know the difference between a Nightmare and a Night terror. Though both have a common word 'Night', but they are very much different from one another. They form a very important study material when dealing with dream analysis and I thought it would be really useful and interesting to share it with you. There are many sources to find more about this topic but I am quoting here one from 'Sleep Disorders Blog'.
There is much difference between nightmares and night terrors and there is a difference in the way of handling by the parents or caretakers.
A nightmare is an unpleasant or scary dream. Many of them are unaware of nightmares and children experience more frequently than adults. Children experience them from time to time. One out of four children experience nightmares more than once in a week.
A child wakes up after a nightmare and is often distressed and you cannot comfort a child after nightmare.
Night terror is not a dream but is a partial awakening from sleep with unusual behaviors such as screaming, mumbling or kicking. The child may be sweating or breathing fast during a night terror. Night terrors occur within two hours of sleep after a child goes to sleep.
Night terrors are harmless and each event will end in deep sleep. A child will not wake up with night terror even though he or she may have their eyes open. They are not completely awake and cannot recognize or communicate with you.
Children may oppose going back to sleep after a nightmare because they are afraid. Nightmares always occur almost in the night during the light stages of REM sleep. children usually remember a nightmare.
Children will settle down quickly after a night terror. You have to stay with them until they go back to sleep. Night terrors are usually completely forgotten. The main cause of night terrors is overtiredness of your child.
The cause of nightmares may be due to the worries your child is having. Separation anxiety may be another cause of nightmares.
Helping your child during a night terror:
1.Help your child to go back to sleep and don’t try to awaken your child. Whenever your child experiences a night terror turn on the lights and soothe him so that he will not be confused.
2.Hold your child to feel better and don’t shout as your child may become more upset.
3.Protect your child from injuries as he may fall down a staircase, or break a window and gently take your child back to the bed.
4.Overtiredness is the main cause, so prevent tiredness and make sure that he goes to bed early.
Visit the doctor:
1.When the night terrors happen continuously for seven nights.
2.If the child is drooling, stiffening or jerking.
3.If the terrors are happening during second half of the night.
4.If the night terrors are happening for half an hour or more.
Helping your child during nightmare:
1.You have to reassure and comfort your child.
2.Protect your child from watching horror movies and shows in television.
3.Talk to your child at daytime about the bad dreams he had at night.
4.After the nightmare, let your child go back to sleep.
5.During bedtime, talk to your child about happiest things and funny things.
6.Leave your child’s bedroom door open to overcome the fear.
Visit the doctor:
1.When nightmares are happening more often or becoming worse.
2.If the fear interferes with day time activities.
3.If nightmares are disturbing your child’s sleep and ability to function