Click here to enable calls. Let's help some parents today!

Nightmares Vs. Night Terrors

Jamie Ortiz | Nov 8, 2022

By far, one of the things parents can agree on is wanting to protect their child from everything that scares them.

While we understand that we can't protect them from everything, there are a few things we can do to help our children. But first, let's go over the difference between a nightmare and a night terror to help troubleshoot what could be going on with your little one.

First, nightmares and terrors don't begin until the age of 2. "But I hear my baby screaming or crying." There could be many reasons (hunger, connecting sleep cycles, etc.) your little one is crying, but the part of the brain responsible for the imagination; the Neocortex and Thalamus don't begin to develop until the age of 2.

Night terrors are a reaction that cause fear and often occurs during the transition of one sleep cycle to the other. In other words, transitioning from Non-REM sleep into REM sleep.

Nightmares often occur during a time of stress, anxiety, a new change, trauma, and more. Oftentimes, trauma can trigger the amygdala (part of the brain that identifies threat), so if you have fostered or adopted a child who has been through trauma, be on the lookout for things during the day that can trigger your child. Things they see or hear make a huge difference.

Common Night Terror Signs

  • Can happen the first half of the night
  • Child doesn't remember the details of what they were dreaming
  • Child doesn't realize you're in the room
  • Confused
  • Sweaty
  • Unable to fully wake up

Common Nightmare Signs

  • Child is easily comforted
  • Child can remember the nightmare
  • Occurs the second half of the night

So How Can We Help Prevent Our Children From Having Nightmares Or Night Terrors?

  • Try to prevent your child from becoming overly tired.
  • Stop the use of all devices 1-2 hours before bedtime. Let their brains have a downtime. To this I like to add, watch what your child is watching. Sometimes something in the background can remain in their mind, causing them to have a nightmare. What's innocent to us, might not be for their young mind.
  • Watch what they're eating. Foods high in sugar and high in food dyes causes the brain to become more stimulated.
  • QUALITY TIME. This is so important. Try to be intentional and give them your affection and undivided attention. Let them know that their room is a safe space.

Extra Tips

  • Consider placing a picture of you or of something that brings them comfort next to their bed.
  • Create a "safe spray" that they can make with you and spray it whenever they feel scared.
  • offer them a flashlight to keep next to their bed.
  • Instead of a nightlight try a red bulb or red salt lamp. Red doesn't stop the production of melatonin.
  • Give them a special comfort item (stuffed animal, a shirt of yours or dad's) and let them know it's to help them know they're safe.


If you're needing any extra support, please contact me via the messaging system or schedule your call.

Related Blogs

Myth Busting - Sleep Training Edition

Ciarra Morgan, TLCD, HBCE, CSC | May 25, 2022

Bringing clarity to what sleep training is and isn't!

Newborn Feeding and Sleep Routine

Trish Martin The Baby Coach | Jun 15, 2022

Babies love predictability and consistency. So how can we create a routine to help our newborns thrive?

One-Month-Old Sleep Schedule: Get Your Baby To Sleep Through The Night

Cynthia Unuigbe | Jun 30, 2022

1-Month-Old Sleep Schedule

Talk To Your Baby

Ana Gauthier RN | Jul 8, 2022

Let's Have A Potty Talk

Nap Transitions

Jamie Ortiz | Sep 23, 2022

If you're wondering when and how to transition down naps or if it's time to get rid of their one nap, this is the blog for you! Keep reading for all the tips and how to's when it comes to naps.

Surviving the 8 Month Sleep Regression

Christine Brown | Oct 10, 2022

Insight into the 8-9-10 month sleep regressions and our top 8 tips to survive the 8 month sleep regression.

Fall Daylight Savings Time

Jamie Ortiz | Oct 11, 2022

Time changes can be so tricky! You can help your baby or toddler prep in advance so when the day comes, they are adjusted to the new time change. Do you have to? NOPE! I never help them prep. We go with the flow on this, but you can definitely get them re

How To Survive The 12 Month Sleep Regression

Christine Brown | Oct 18, 2022

Blog post that gives parents insight into the 12 month sleep regression and tips on how to survive.

Daylight Savings Ends

Joan - Sleepytime Support | Oct 26, 2022

Tips and commiseration as we experience another hurdle with sleep!

Is your child a bad sleeper?

Joan - Sleepytime Support | Oct 26, 2022

Practical tips on how to help your child get getter sleep.