How to handle night terrors

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How to handle night terrors

Night terrors occur between the ages of 2 and 6 years old. They tend to occur approximately 90 minutes after going to sleep and what will happen is your child would just start screaming. They will scream like someone is hurting them and when you go their bedside or find them walking in their room and they will be looking past you with a blank stare in their face and dilated eyes screaming. They won't talk to you. They won't understand what you're saying. And so, it's absolutely useless to try to console them. In fact, our instinct is to hug and try to be compassionate for our child who looks so upset and actually if you hug them, they will feel confined and scream even louder. So, the right thing to do is to put a big fake smile in your face, take them by the hand, lead them back in the bed and everything's going to be okay and stay with them for the next 5 minutes until they wind down and go back to sleep. When they wake up in the morning if you ask them how they sleep, they'll tell you they slept great and they'll have no recollection whatsoever of the events that occurred. Night terrors tend to happen in the deepest part of our sleep cycle and they're completely unconscious and by the way, they have no meaningful connection to any psychological disorder. It's a completely benign process that's self-resolves.

Watch Lawrence Kagan, MD's video on How to handle night terrors...


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Lawrence Kagan, MD


Lawrence Kagan, MD, FAAP, is a UCLA honors graduate, with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry. He received medical training at USC Keck School of Medicine, and completed his internship and residency in Pediatrics at Children's Hospital Los Angeles. In addition to passionately studying neonatal, general pediatric and adolescent medicine at CHLA, he had the opportunity to train under some of the greatest minds in subspecialty pediatrics, diagnosing and managing the rarest and most complicated childhood ailments. Prior to opening Westside Pediatrics, he worked as an attending physician at the CHLA Emergency Department as well as at Cedars Sinai Urgent Care. Dr. Kagan is a native of Los Angeles and is happily married with two children.

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