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Dr. Andrew Rynne
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Article Home Children's Health Night mares in children

Night mares in children

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Sweet dreams become nightmares all too often for many young children. In fact, an estimated 25 percent of kids have nightmares more than once a week.

Nightmares aren't real, but they can be frightening for both children and parents alike. Usually, nightmares are nothing to worry about. Most kids simply outgrow nightmares on their own. In the meantime, your calming presence and gentle reassurance can help lull your child back to sleep.


Many factors can trigger nightmares, including:

  • Stress: Sometimes the ordinary stresses of daily life, such as a problem at home or school, trigger nightmares. A major change, such as a move or the death of a loved one, can have the same effect.
  • A traumatic event: Nightmares are common after an accident, injury or other traumatic event.
  • Scary books and movies: Reading scary books or watching scary movies, especially before bed, can cause nightmares.
  • Bedtime snacks: For some kids, eating right before bed and the resulting boost in metabolism and brain activity leads to nightmares.
  • Illness. Sometimes being sick triggers nightmares, especially if the illness is accompanied by a fever.
  • Medications. Some drugs including certain antidepressants, narcotics and barbiturates can trigger nightmares.

How to manage the child with night mares:

  • Ask the child to describe the nightmare. Remind the child that nightmares are not real and cannot hurt you.
  • If the child seems anxious or stressed, talk about what bothering him or her.
  • Make the child feel secure by making to sleep with a favorite animal, blanket or other comfort object.
  • Turn a night light on in the child’s room.
  • Leave the child’s door open so that he or she should not feel alone.