Night terrors can be distressing for parents, but they are common and usually pass in time. Children who have night terrors may shout, thrash around, or jump out of bed. Unlike nightmares, this can happen soon after falling asleep. Your child may also not remember night terrors when they wake up.
It’s important to know that even if their eyes are open, they may not be awake during an episode.
Try to stay calm – it’s likely that you’ve woken abruptly and are feeling alarmed. Only intervene if your child is at risk of injury. For example, if they are out of control or close to an area where they could hurt themselves.
Block access to dangerous areas. Holding or restraining them may be difficult and could make them more frightened or anxious.
As long as your child is safe, don’t try to wake, comfort or talk to them. They may not recognise you, and could become more distressed.
Wait for them to calm down by themselves and go back into a calm sleep. If they wake after, settle them back to sleep.
You can help reduce the likelihood of night terrors in a few different ways. This includes:
Most children grow out of night terrors, and they don’t cause any long-term harm. If you’re worried, or your child has night terrors frequently and intensely, it’s a good idea to get medical advice. You can also see NHS advice or speak to our parenting coaches on our free chat service.