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Yesterday, I saw this e-mail from a parent/reader with this subject line:  Is my child having night terrors?

“Dear Becky,
If you could do a post on night terrors, that would be amazing.  Our son is waking up screaming and crying and I am at a loss on what to do.  How can I help?  I feel so bad for him.  He will be sound asleep and then jolt up in a panic, but he is asleep!  Please help.”

child having night terrors

So… I wanted to take a minute to talk about night terrors, because so many children have them.  Jack, our oldest had them.  They were terrible, to say the least.  If you aren’t familiar with them, night terrors are a condition where a child is suddenly roused from deep sleep and appears to be extremely scared or upset, but cannot be awakened.

Facts about night terrors: 

  • During these episodes, children often scream and are very frightened and confused.
  • The child appears to have a severe temper tantrum that can’t be stopped.
  • The child may not respond to being spoken to or comforted.
  • The episodes occur within 3-4 hours of falling asleep.
  • The child usually won’t remember the episodes in the morning.

night terrors

How to help your child with night terrors:
Here are some tips and affiliate links to products that help with night terrors.   Good luck!

  • Be sure that you are following the same nighttime routine, because it will be comforting to your child
  • Wake them, just slightly, about 15 minutes before it starts.  I suggest even looking into products that will wake them up (like Lully)  Lully Sleep Guardian is the size of a hockey puck and is placed under a child’s mattress. With input from a parent’s smartphone each night, Lully’s enhanced smart algorithm learns a child’s sleep patterns that lead to a night terror.
  • Each night, before the night terrors occur, if you end up getting the Lully– it sends a brief vibration from under the mattress to gently bring the child out of these troublesome sleep patterns so that their night terror is prevented, but sleep remains undisturbed.
  • If they wake up in a panic, don’t try to wake them, just say “It’s ok.  I’m right here”
  • If your child is sick or feverish, it is more likely to occur.
  • Diffuse essential oils in their bedroom.  My friend SWEARS by this.
  • I have heard great things about Rescue Remedy. 

I hope that helped you!!  Good luck.  Night Terrors are hard for your child and for you.   It is just a phase.


 teach kids to sleep later


Hi there!

I’m Becky, a former elementary school teacher turned certified child development therapist and blogger. I work at home with my husband and together we are raising (and partially homeschooling) our four children in the Carolinas. I love diet coke, ice cream, and spending time with my family.

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  1. When my daughter had night terrors her trigger was not going to the bathroom before going to bed. She was about 3.5 years old. Once she started going right before crawling into bed, the terrors stopped. A comment I came across on a post helped me figure out her trigger. I hope it helps someone else.