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Night Terrors

Medically reviewed by Last updated on May 1, 2023.

Night terrors are part of a sleep disorder that causes your child to wake up suddenly in fear. Your child does not remember the terror the next day. Night terrors are not the same as nightmares. Nightmares happen when your child is dreaming. Night terrors happen when your child is between being awake and asleep.


Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • Your child has sudden trouble breathing.
  • Your child has hurt himself or herself, or someone else.

Call your child's doctor if:

  • Your child's night terrors prevent him or her from doing daily activities.
  • Your child's night terrors are getting worse.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

Help your child prevent or manage night terrors:

  • Stay calm. Do not panic while your child is having a night terror. Do not wake your child during a night terror. Your child will fall back to sleep on his or her own.
  • Make your child's bedroom safe. Do not place things that may break, such as toys, a lamp, or a mirror, near your child. Your child could get hurt by these things if he or she gets out of bed or kicks or thrashes about in his or her bed.
  • Keep your child safe. Lock your windows and doors in case your child sleepwalks during night terrors. You could also hang a bell on your child's door to warn you that your child is out of bed.
  • Help your child manage his or her fears. Talk to your child about his or her fears. Help your child find ways to deal with stress. Your child's provider may refer him or her to a therapist. A therapist can help your child work through his or her stress.
  • Help your child get ready for bedtime. Limit screen time before your child's bedtime. Do not let your child snack before bedtime. If your child is hungry, make a healthy snack. Ask your child's provider for a list of foods that are right for your child. Make sure your child uses the bathroom before he or she goes to sleep.
  • Help your child get enough sleep. Your child's provider can tell you how much sleep your child needs each night. Keep your child's room cool, dark, and quiet. This will help your child stay asleep. Have your child go to bed and wake up at the same times each day to create a sleep routine.
  • Keep a sleep diary for your child. Use the diary to keep track of your child's sleep habits. If your child has a night terror, record how long the terror lasted. Describe anything your child did during the terror, such as thrashing, running, or trying to leave the house.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

Follow up with your child's doctor as directed:

You may be asked to keep a sleep diary for your child. Bring the diary with you to follow up visits. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during visits.

© Copyright Merative 2023 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Night Terrors

Treatment options

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.