Resource Center Are Night Terrors the Same as Nightmares?

Night terrors sound a lot like nightmares. They are often terrifying to witness, and it can be easy to imagine the scary dream going on in your child’s mind as you watch them crying, screaming or even sleepwalking. Is this episode you’re witnessing a nightmare gone wrong, or is it a night terror? We’ll help you understand the difference, so you can get a more accurate picture of what may be bothering your child at night. Once you understand whether or not your child is having night terrors, you’ll be on the road to putting a stop to them. That means more sleep for not just your child, but for the whole family. 

Your Child is Mostly Likely Experiencing a Night Terror If:

  • They still seem to be asleep during the episode, even though their body or mouth is moving
  • It’s nearly impossible to calm them down or soothe them
  • They don’t remember the episode the next day
  • They cry, scream or sleepwalk while seeming to be in a trance
  • It happens earlier in the night rather than later
  • They wet the bed surrounding the incident

It’s Probably Just a Nightmare If:

  • They remember it in the morning
  • They come to you fully awake, and are scared to go back to sleep
  • They are making upset sounds but are easily awoken and soothed by you
  • It happens later in the night 

Why Night Terrors are Different from Nightmares

Dreams (and nightmares) happen during the deepest stages of sleep, which are classified as R.E.M., or rapid eye movement. During this time, our bodies are basically in a state of temporary paralysis. This paralysis prevents us from actually acting out our dreams, even though they may be vivid in our minds. Night terrors happen during lighter stages of sleep. That's why a child's body is often moving and participating in what’s going on. This may involve crying, shouting or sleepwalking. 

20-30% of children experience night terrors, and many grow out of them. That said, they can often take a toll on the whole family, who often get up and attempt to soothe the child through the episode. Our Lully Sleep Guardian 2 has been proven to stop 80% of night terrors, and its automatic vibrations mean you get to sleep through the night. 

To find out if the Sleep Guardian 2 can help your child, take our easy quiz.

If you have any other questions about night terrors, feel free to tweet us at @LullySleep. We’re always happy to help your whole family get more restful sleep!

Meet the Sleep Guardian

The first, scientifically-proven, non-medicated treatment for night terrors.

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