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Home > Patient & Family Resources > Health Library > Nightmares and Other Sleep Problems in Children
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A good night's sleep helps your child to grow, to form memories, and to learn. Sleep helps your child stay alert and focused at school and play.
Children who don't get enough sleep over time can have behavior problems and trouble learning. They may become moody, sad, or angry.
Most sleep problems occur when the child is only partly asleep. Problems may include:
Children spend more time than teens and adults in a deep stage of sleep that happens early in the night. Sleep problems such as night terrors often happen during the change from this phase of sleep into lighter sleep. Nightmares tend to occur later in sleep, in the early morning hours when children are dreaming.
It may take some time for your child to go back to sleep. Children usually remember a nightmare, but they don't tend to remember night terrors, confusional arousals, or sleepwalking.
Night terrors and confusional arousals
Children outgrow most sleep problems. But you may want to take your child to the doctor if:
The doctor may look for health problems that could cause sleep problems. For example, children who are under stress because of problems at home or at school may be more likely to have nightmares.
Your doctor may suggest counseling if your child has a lot of stress and often has nightmares.
Most children don't need medicine. In rare cases, a child may take medicine to help control the phase of sleep in which sleepwalking occurs.
Current as of:
February 10, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: John Pope MD - PediatricsKathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineSusan C. Kim MD - Pediatrics
Current as of: February 10, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:John Pope MD - Pediatrics & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Susan C. Kim MD - Pediatrics
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