Do you suffer from night terrors? Perhaps someone in your family, or your partner, often have night terrors that affect your sleep too? Or maybe you think you might be experiencing night terrors and need some clarification?
Night terrors can be quite unpleasant to experience yourself, or even witness it happening to someone else - but there are things you can do to help lessen the episodes. Even though night terrors are quite a common sleep problem (especially among children), and are often seen as normal, it can still be distressing to see or experience.
Before we talk about how to stop night terrors in adults and children, it’s a good idea to explain what night terrors are and the misconceptions we might have.
What Are Night Terrors?
For most people, night terrors can last from seconds to a few minutes, before the person experiencing it falls back to sleep. A night terror will involve the person waking up suddenly, possibly screaming, feeling extremely scared and flailing around. Although they will seem awake to you, this person would be confused and unconsolable - often they will not recognize you.
This can be very distressing for the person witnessing it. However, the person who is experiencing the night terrors won’t remember having the episode at all. The night terrors would normally occur during the third to first half of the night - usually about 1 to 4 hours after going to sleep.
Some of the symptoms of a night terror include:
- Sitting up in bed suddenly
- Screaming or shouting
- Possibly perform dangerous acts
- Become confused if awoken
- Doesn’t remember what took place
The only time a night terror would be a concern is if it’s having a negative effect on your sleep or it’s creating a safety risk. If so, it may be worth speaking to a professional about this.
Causes Of Night Terrors
The causes of night terrors can be different for everyone - especially between children and adults. It’s more common for children to experience them than adults. Night terrors are usually more common for someone if they have family members with a history of sleepwalking and night terrors.
Here are some of the most common causes of night terrors:
- Physical or emotional stress
- Sleep deprivation
- Unfamiliar surroundings
- Some medications
- Migraine headaches
- Head injury
- Sleep disorders (such as obstructive sleep apnea)
- Sleep schedule disruptions or interruptions
- Noise or light
- Fevers (in children)
- Mood disorders (eg depression and anxiety)
These are just a few of the causes of night terrors, and it really does depend on the person. The important thing is to know the causes so you can try and understand what could be causing the night terrors (and work to stop them).
Night Terrors vs Nightmares
The difference between night terrors and nightmares is quite simple. Firstly, when someone is having a nightmare, they are often easy to wake and easily comforted too. Whereas with night terrors, it’s much harder to console the person and they are not likely to recognize you either.
Another difference is that nightmares will often occur later in the night and cause distress or anxiety. The person can normally remember the nightmare and be able to recall parts of it. Whereas, night terrors are often not remembered by the person who has experienced it.
Nightmares are a less intense version of a night terror - you may still wake up feeling scared or anxious, but you will be awake and aware of your surroundings, which is much different to a night terror.
How To Stop Night Terrors Naturally
Now that you know what night terrors are, the symptoms and the causes - it’s time to take a look at how to stop night terrors. This can work for you if you are the person experiencing the night terrors or even if you are just witnessing them happen to someone else.
Here are 5 ways to stop night terrors.
1. Get Enough Sleep
As mentioned above, one cause of night terrors can be sleep deprivation. So making sure you or the person experiencing night terrors are getting the appropriate amount of sleep they need can help to stop night terrors.
If you feel that you are feeling very fatigued, try to make a habit of changing your bedtime routine and the time you go to sleep. Try to go to bed early and keep that routine going every day. If it’s your child or partner experiencing night terrors, help to set a time to go to bed so that it means that get enough sleep and try to stick to it so you aren’t completely switching your bedtime.
This can increase your chances of stopping night terrors due to the same routine each day and helping to stop sleep interruptions.
2. Keep A Sleep Diary
Whether you are experiencing the night terrors or someone else, it’s a great idea to keep a sleep diary and take note of when and what exactly happens when the night terrors occur. It’s good to have it written down because it gives you something to reflect and look back on.
Keeping a sleep diary will help you to identify any potential triggers or particular time that the night terrors happen. This can help with reflecting back on and noticing any changes that might occur.
Another good reason to keep a sleep diary is that, if you do need to see a doctor, it will be helpful to have a sleep diary to refer back to.
3. Anticipatory Awakening
There is something you can do to help someone else who suffers from night terrors (if it’s you who is experiencing it, ask a family member or partner to do this for you). It’s called anticipatory awakening, and it is used to disrupt the person's sleep and stop the night terror from occurring.
You would need to reflect back to the sleep diary and see the average time that the night terror happens. Then, 15 minutes before that time - wake up the person. Try to do this quietly and gently, without startling them, and then leave them once they begin to stir.
This helps to disrupt their sleep enough so that the night terrors can be disrupted or stopped completely.
4. Self Hypnosis
Another good way to stop night terrors is through the use of self-hypnosis. Self-hypnosis can help to rewrite your subconscious and relax you - which is perfect to do before you go to sleep.
You can also use self-hypnosis tracks like ours that will help you to visualize yourself sleeping deeply and peacefully. Self-hypnosis can help to stop night terrors in a natural and safe way. It can help to improve your quality of sleep too, and this can help to reduce the likeliness of night terrors re-occurring.
As one of the causes of night terrors is stress and anxiety, hypnosis can help to calm your mind and relax you - this can all help to stop night terrors.
5. Develop A Relaxing Evening Routine
Again, being relaxed can help us to experience fewer night terrors. Whether you are doing this for yourself, your partner, or your child - a good evening routine can work wonders. Try to plan things to do before bed that relax you and help you to feel more comfortable.
This could be, for example, meditating before bed, listening to a self-hypnosis track, having a bubble bath or for children, reading a bedtime story. If you can try to relax before you go to sleep you should have a much nicer sleep and should not experience as much stress and anxiety.
Feeling less stressed can help to stop night terrors from happening so a relaxing evening routine before bed is a great way to relax and clear your mind after your day.
Stop Night Terrors With Hypnosis
There are many different ways you can stop night terrors - and they are all quite simple changes to make. If you feel that stress or worry may be the cause of the night terrors, then self-hypnosis could be a great tool for you to start with.
As it can help you to clear your mind and relax, it’s perfect for getting you settled before you sleep. If you want to find out more about our ‘Stop Night Terrors’ self-hypnosis track, then click here.