Childhood nightmares, a scary experience for children and parents
Childhood nightmares are scary dreams which are very common in children of all ages. They will usually happen late in the night or early in the morning. Although very distressing both for your child and you as a parent, these scary dreams are a normal part of growing up and are the result of your child’s brain processing information. They can start at around two years of age and typically last through childhood, reaching a peak at ages four to six.
At least 25% of children have one nightmare every week. This should reassure you and your child if you’re are worried about the frequency of these dreams.
Although more common in children, scary dreams are experienced by adults as well. This is perfectly normal and is not something you should worry about unless it’s affecting your sleep or quality of life.
What’s the cause of childhood nightmares?
- Stress can be one of the leading causes as well as causing other sleep problems. Sometimes just the normal stresses associated with growing up are enough to trigger a nightmare.
- Illness, especially when your child has a fever is another cause of nightmares.
- A traumatic event such as divorce or a death in the family.
- Watching scary TV shows, even cartoons. Trauma can be real or imagined.
- Children with a vivid imagination can be especially prone. Imaginations still keep working after we’re asleep!
- Fear – especially fear of the dark can be a major reasons for nightmares in younger children.
- Some types of medication.
Can we get rid of nightmares?
While we’ll probably never completely eliminate them, there’s a few things we can do to diffuse these childhood nightmares and help ease your child’s fears.
- Install a night light in your child’s bedroom if they’re afraid of the dark. These are safe, low wattage lights that cast a reassuring glow.
- Always go straight in to your child if they wake up frightened. Don’t wait for them to cry it out, this will always make them more frightened and upset.
- Spend time reassuring and calming your child. This will pay dividends in the long term as your child will settle more easily.
- If they are extremely upset or frantic, be prepared to spend some time calming them down. You may even like to read a favourite story.
- Ask them to tell you about the dream. You may be able to help them by inventing a happy ending or explaining why childhood nightmares happen to all children.
- Screen their TV viewing to make sure they’re not watching frightening shows. Even the nightly news can be a worry!
- Magic Sprinkles! (see end of page)
The difference between Night Terrors and Nightmares
While many people believe these are the same thing, there’s a world of difference between these two.
Children don’t fully wake up when they are experiencing night terrors. Their eyes may be open but you will not be able to speak to them as you can after a nightmare. A child who has night terror episode will probably not remember it in the morning.
Sleep walking, yelling and kicking are behaviours found in night terrors but seldom during nightmares. Night terrors are frightening to watch but seem to have no after effects. Parents are probably more affected by them than their children!
Here’s a short video that explains the difference between nightmares and night terrors and how to help prevent them.
If you think a child’s quality of life is being affected by either childhood nightmares or night terrors, always ask your doctor for advice. In extreme cases medication can be prescribed (usually anxiety medication). If you decide to go this route, be especially vigilant and watch for side effects as some of these medications can suppress normal REM sleep.
For a safer more natural approach Bad Dream Sprinkles contain gentle yet effective ingredients which provide comfort during nightmare and night terrors. Bad Dream Sprinkles are especially formulated to offer immediate comfort to your child.
“No mother should be without this remedy. It is the only way I can get my children back to sleep after a bad dream. Aside from that, I used Bad Dream Sprinkles regularly over two weeks for my 4 year old daughter and she is no longer having as many terrors as before. Sleep is returning to our house!” - Gloria J, NY
Bad Dream Sprinkles the homeopathic “magic sprinkles” for prevention and cure of childhood nightmares. Yummy tasting and can be given to babies.
If you would like a free e-book on nightmares and night terrors please download here (right click to download, left click to read online)