Probably every person has had to deal with night fears or nightmares. You probably woke up in a cold sweat from the horror of the events you just experienced, not knowing whether it was a dream, or reality, and whether you can already relax. However, nightmares and nightmares are different things. To begin with, it should be understood that these concepts have different bases: a nightmare is seen by a person who is in the REM stage and can be identified as a normal dream. In addition, any person can dream of a nightmare, regardless of age or even emotional state.
Night fear occurs much less frequently and is most typical for children under 15 years of age. The main difference from a nightmare is that the child is still awake, but his brain is no longer in control of emotions. A couple of hours after falling asleep, he gets up and starts screaming heart-rendingly – his parents come to his call and try to calm him down – but in vain. The kid breaks loose, scratches, tries to jump out of bed, or even asks to be left alone. Heart palpitations and increased sweating are sometimes observed. Such an attack can last from several minutes to half an hour – until the child falls asleep again or finally wakes up – but even then he will not be serene and cannot clearly explain to worried parents what happened to him. The next day, these children completely forget about the events of the previous night.
So what is the root of the problem? Among the main reasons for the appearance of night fears in children, doctors distinguish the following:
- stress experienced in everyday life;
- weakness and fever from a previous illness;
- lack of sleep (usually expressed by a sharp refusal from daytime sleep);
- side effects of medications affecting the central nervous system.
What to do in such a situation? Firstly, in no case try to wake him up or push him away – you can only aggravate the baby’s condition. No matter how hard it is to look at a child beating in agony, it is usually enough to just wait until he calms down and, if possible, follow the following recommendations:
- not to panic is not a hysteria and not an emotional breakdown, nothing directly threatens his health;
- in the event that there is increased physical activity (the child beats, scratches, tries to escape) – you need to ensure his physical safety, gently holding him on his hands or bed;
- it is necessary to carefully observe the baby during the entire attack and after it, so that, if necessary, subsequently everything can be described in detail to the doctor;
- if the child wakes up, stroke or shake him in your arms, talk about abstract topics, trying to calm him down as quickly as possible, and gently ask how he feels and what he might remember. Persistent questioning can scare the baby even more, bringing additional problems later;
- when the child has calmed down, you need to put him to bed again;
- it is necessary to refrain from discussing the attack with the child or in his presence the next day, so as not to cause the appearance of unnecessary reasons for alarm.
How to deal with night fears? Firstly, you need to take care of a favorable atmosphere at home: perhaps your room is too loud. Turn down the sound of devices, give up the habit of talking loudly and even more so quarreling! And most importantly – do not make noise at the time of his going to bed. The ideal option would be to provide him with a separate room surrounded by his favorite toys. Leave the night light on, open the door slightly, talk to him affectionately before bed, trying to eliminate the possibility of fear of loneliness and insecurity.
Usually, such disorders go away on their own with age, however, if the attacks become more frequent, you need to consult a doctor. Also try to calm down and reassure the child on your own that you will come to the rescue in any situation. Remember: your baby’s best friend is yourself.