Night Tremors in Toddlers and Children

by Sharon Hopkins

Not to be confused with nightmares, night terrors are a state of confused arousal that occurs in children between the ages of five to fifteen. In some cases night tremors may develop in toddlers and infants as well. When a child awakens with an episode of night tremors he won’t look scared but rather confused and disoriented.

Symptoms of Night Terrors

Other symptoms of night terrors include:

  • Usually, he won’t know what woke him or be able to articulate what he is feeling.
  • The episode may last for two minutes to thirty minutes.
  • It can take a long time to calm down a child who wakes up in this state. A parent’s attempts to soothe the child are generally ineffective.
  • Children do not recall such episodes in the morning
  • The child may scream and thrash around in panic and may even jump out of bed
  • He will not recognize his parents when they comfort him

Causes of Night Terrors

Night tremors are episodes that occur during the deep sleep stage or in between the deep sleep and REM stage. When a night terror occurs, the child is physically asleep even if his eyes are open. Experts suggest that night terrors may be caused by an over-stimulation of the nervous system. Since most children outgrow night tremors, it indicates a connection between the still developing brain in a child and the occurrence of such episodes. Night tremors may also increase in intensity when a child is stressed or ill or is taking certain medications.

Treatment of Night Terrors

The initial response of any parent is to try and soothe the child back to sleep. However, this may not always be possible. Experts suggest that you try and instigate a deeper sleep by offering the baby a bottle to lull him back into a relaxed stage and allow him to fall asleep again.

Alternatively, you could carry him to another room, which will serve to arouse him and wake him up from this in-between sleep stage. Keep in mind that the child is not awake during such episodes and should be treated with care and extra patience. Another option is to just wait the episode out. In about fifteen to twenty minutes your child should fall back asleep.

Preventing Night Tremors

There are ways that may help reduce these episodes. These include:

  • Do not overtire your children before bed. Agitated or overexcited kids tend to suffer from more night tremors. Make sure your child is getting enough sleep in the night and during the daytime to ensure that he is well rested.
  • Introduce calming rituals before bedtime to help him wind down. These can include a warm bath, songs and stories.

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