Dreams are a normal part of childhood. They also play an important role in helping children develop cognitive skills, such as learning and problem solving.
However, dreams commonly warp to frightening nightmares. Research says that roughly half of children from ages 3 to 6 have nightmares, while it affects 20% of those aged 6 to 12.
If your child has frequent nightmares, here are some things you can do to help him or her cope with them.
What are the Reasons for Nightmares?
First of all, it is important that you understand why your child might be having nightmares.
While the cause of nightmares is often unknown, it is thought that they may be caused by stress, lack of sleep or even a bad dream that was left unfinished when the child woke up in the middle of the night.
Children who are under pressure may get scared and develop nightmares because they can’t handle the pressure and cope with it.
Nightmares are usually a result of an overactive imagination. Your child’s mind may have created monsters out of their own fears.
When these things happen, children may develop night terrors. This is where they go into a state of terror and panic which often ends up in their getting up in the middle of the night screaming for help.
Here are the 6 steps to putting an end to your child’s nightmares:
1. Have Consistent Bedtime Rituals
Another important thing you can do to help your child sleep well is by having consistent bedtime habits or rituals. This means that you should have the same routine before bedtime of brushing your teeth, taking a shower, and getting into pajamas.
You can also add other calm activities. For example, if your child enjoys reading, read them a bedtime story as part of their nightly bedtime routine.
You can read a book together while both of you are lying down on the bed with the lights dimmed down. This way, your child will feel more relaxed as he or she is falling asleep and lessen the chances of night terrors.
When it comes to children, it is recommended that they should be reading for about 15 minutes before going to sleep. This helps them fall asleep faster and stay asleep throughout the night.
Having a consistent bedtime routine will help them get comfortable with sleeping quicker, which can lead to a more stable REM sleep period.
2. Correct their Sleep Positions
There are several ways you can encourage your child to sleep well. One of the best ways is by encouraging your child to sleep in a comfortable and relaxing position.
When it comes to children, it is often recommended that they should be sleeping on their backs with their knees bent at an angle of 90 degrees, this is known as the fetal position.
While sleeping on their backs, children should have their pillows supporting their necks and back. When you do this, your child will find it very easy to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night without having any nightmares.
3. Use a Night Light
If your child gets scared easily at night, you can use a night light to help him or her feel safe in the dark and stop them from waking up in fear.
There are many types of night lights available on the market. They provide soft lighting without disturbing your child with bright beams of light, which may disturb their sleep.
The LED (Light Emitting Diode) lamps are one of these types of lights which provide low levels of illumination without being too bright for children during hours before bedtime.
4. Manage their Activity Level
If your child is constantly busy with playtime or other activities, he or she may find it difficult to get enough sleep. If they’re used to staying up late, it will lessen their quality of sleep at night.
It is therefore important that you try to encourage your child to have regular sleep schedule. Make sure to get them to take any necessary naps throughout the day.
Getting them to a good circadian rhythm will help them sleep more comfortably.
5. Lessen Screen Time Before Bed
Another thing you can do to help your child sleep better is by limiting the amount of screen time they get before bedtime. Many children use their phones, tablets, laptops, and TV to entertain themselves while they are falling asleep.
This may keep them awake at night and make it difficult for them to get a good night’s sleep. Furthermore, the blue light from the screens will disturb their quality of sleep.
To remedy this, give them all your attention during the hours before bed.
Additionally, don’t let them watch scary movies before bedtime. This may influence whether or not they have scary dreams later that night.
You can also suggest that they spend some time doing activities which don’t involve screens, such as reading books.
6. Go to Sleep Medicine Clinics
Another thing you can do to help your child sleep better is by going to sleep medicine clinics.
At some point, it may be better to consult a sleep specialist so your child’s sleep disruptions don’t worsen. This is especially useful if your child has severe sleep terrors.
Additionally, there’s the possibility that their sleep disturbances are caused by a traumatic event or something similar. In this case, it is best to have them examined and diagnosed by mental health professionals.
They may also need medication to help them fall asleep. You can visit a sleep medicine clinic to find out what medication will work best for your child.
If your child has trouble sleeping, he or she may need medication to help them fall asleep. You can visit a sleep medicine clinic to find out what medication will work best for your child.
If you’re not sure what medication will work best for your child, ask your doctor about it. He or she will be able to recommend the right medication based on the results of the sleep study and the number of bad dreams they have had throughout the year.
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