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Night terrors – why there’s light at the end of the tunnel

Paul Banas
Author Paul Banas
Submitted 06-07-2011

Night terrors are not to be confused with the more common concept of a nightmare, as they are usually more severe. The condition often involves a child waking up crying with an uncontrollable sense of dread.

There are several factors that can lead to this problem, such as stress and sleep deprivation, but don't jump to the conclusion that it's all your fault if your child can't get a single good night of sleep. Instead of focusing on the cause, you should be more concerned about the solution. There are several steps a parent can take in order to alleviate the symptoms of night terrors – just remember, no matter how awful they seem, they don't pose any direct risks to your little one's health.

Wait and see. Usually even the most extreme cases of night terrors disappear by adolescence. This might be extremely useful to know if you've tried everything under the sun to no avail. With a little patience and the proper support, your child will most likely start sleeping like a baby by the time he turns 6 years old.

Sign up for counseling. Family support groups and therapy are likely the most effective ways to combat night terrors. However, don't think that it's merely directed toward the child – you need to participate as well.

Give medication a try. Although it might scare you to think that a child younger than 10 needs a doctor-prescribed remedy, the situation might call for a temporary dose. If the night terrors are so bad that other family members are affected, you might want to use an antidepressant known as imipramine for temporary relief until you can seek the proper help.