- Like I put Nico down one night.
I was like, "This is great, he is sleeping through the night everything is good, life is back on track."
And in the middle of the night I heard screaming from his room, and I went in the room and Nico was like, "Don't cut my cake!
Don't cut my cake!"
And he's like, "Don't cut my cake!"
He was asleep!
He was completely asleep.
(upbeat music) - So here's the thing about nightmares, they usually happen during REM sleep.
That's rapid eye movements.
Usually in the second half of the night when these REM intervals actually get longer.
And it's really interesting because it happens in this phase of sleep where children can actually have nightmares and then wake up and remember them, they may seem vivid they may have part of the memory, but nonetheless, it feels very real, can be traumatizing and they can have strong emotions afterwards.
Now, we don't really know exactly what triggers nightmares could be brought on by something a child sees, a book, a mystery crime show, could be changes in the child's life, it could also be related to trauma.
So anything that's happening in that little brain could trigger a nightmare.
Bethany, are your kids afraid of the dark?
- They've been saying they're afraid of the dark a little bit lately, but I don't know if they are afraid of the dark or if they are very interested in ways to get out of bed.
- So it's not that they're afraid of the dark, they just love the light.
- They just love not going to bed.
- They have FOMO of what's happening.
- They have FOMA, they are Fond Of Mommy Annoying, that's what it is, FOMA.
- Can I walk off set?
(laughs) They're not afraid of the dark, but a lot of kids are.
Darkness does have a little bit of a connotation, you know, in human history, darkness was often associated with danger and predators lurking in the shadows.
- Like saber tooth tigers.
- Wooly mammoths, all kinds of scary things.
- I don't know about wooly mammoths, but like things that were gonna hurt us.
(soft music) But now that we live in these protected environments, a lot less danger is lurking in the dark.
Young kids don't always understand the difference between reality and fantasy, so they may actually think there's a monster under their bed when there really isn't.
And oftentimes when kids are in that preschool age, they tend to be more imaginative.
So more things can actually wind up in that nightmare of theirs.
And it's only around this age or a little bit older when they start to realize that it's not real, it's just a dream, that doesn't change how scary it might feel.
And even though we don't share that fear because we know the difference between a monster and reality, it's important you acknowledge that your child has a fear and help them get through it.
Do you have any tricks for when your kids might be scared at night, even though you say that sometimes they're not?
- I don't think they are, but we got him a little night light that plugs into the wall, it's like orange-ish yellow.
It says it doesn't disrupt sleep.
Lulu doesn't, she's never, really needed a comfort toy, but Nico needed it but it took him a long time.
Took him a lot of swiping right to find his match, and now he has Fafa, a little Scottish terrier.
- Scottish terrier protects- - Protects him.
- He holds Fafa all the time.
It's like he gets up in the middle of the night to go potty and he's got Fafa under his arm, he goes down the hall and goes potty and comes back with Fafa.
- So I like that because here's the thing.
Fafa represents Nico's autonomy.
So as you're helping your child get through something like sleeping in the dark or nightmares, you wanna give them a little element of control.
And that could be Fafa.
- Right, so he's like, I'm with Fafa, I'm untouchable.
- Or you could give them anti-monster spray, which could just be water, and be like, do you wanna get rid of the monsters in your room and actively participate with them until they learn that there's nothing to be afraid of.
- So spray monsters spray under the bed?
- It's giving them something to do in the same way Fafa is protecting Nico from anything else.
Because if you constantly go in your child's room and look under the bed, all it's gonna do is reinforce their fear.
We don't want that to happen.
- We don't?
No, we don't.
- We don't.
- I just want him to call me when he gets older, just a phone call.
- Don't tell him there's monsters under his bed.
- I mean, if it makes him call when he's like 25.
If nightmare's like cutting cake and gorillas and burglars, what is a night terror because that sounds terrifying so what's a night terror?
- And they actually look terrifying to parents and the way they're described.
Kids can kick, thrash, or scream for seemingly no reason.
They may have an elevated heart rate, sweating, they may even have dilated pupils.
Night terrors tend to occur two to three hours after children fall asleep, and parents are often baffled, like what caused this so it's so scary.
It tends to happen during non-REM sleep.
Thing is, as we sleep, there's tons of information running through millions and millions of neurons, and for whatever reason, the fight or flight part of the nervous system gets turned on, causing those scary looking behaviors and movements.
And they look like they're awake while they're still really asleep.
- [Man] They remember no part of it.
- Usually don't, I've had parents tell me that they went in the kid's room and the kid was screaming and trying to get out of bed, and then over the course of 20 minutes, they slowly calmed their kid down, woke him up, and he didn't remember a single thing.
- Oh, wow.
- If they happen infrequently, it's not a big deal.
Sometimes they can be caused by things like caffeine, stress, new medications, or even really bad sleep deprivation.
Night terrors tend to happen in children between ages of like three to 12 but can happen as young as 18 months.
Now as kids get older, all these events tend to decrease, and that's because the amount of time we spend in the stage of sleep where night terrors occur also decreases.
Now, night terrors tend to run in families, so because of this, some people think there's a genetic component to them.
Although this hasn't been proven yet.
But as always, with night terrors, nightmares or even difficulty sleeping, you wanna make sure there's nothing else underlying that could be the cause.
- Like medical things.
- Like medical things.
- External environment.
- External environment, other medical conditions, stress, anxiety, trauma.
Is there something bothering your child at school?
Anything like this, and if your child seems like they're excessively tired during the day, that's a sign that their sleep is truly being disrupted and in that case, you do want to check with your doctor.
But even giving kids this kind of protective environment, easing them into sleep can take away some of the anxiety if they have it, and help promote restful sleep, which we know is great for them and amazing for parents.
- In the dream, I was in my bed and I was looking out the window, and it was daytime.
And I grew up in the Bronx, and so the big high-rise apartment building across the street, I'm looking at it, and a giant, giant gorilla as tall as the building walked up to the building like kind of like this, and then was just picking people out of windows and munching on them like sunflower seeds right and so I scream and go, "Nooooo."
And I wake up.
- That nightmare sounds like it'd be a pretty legit movie.
What if the gorilla came in, cutting the cake.
- The gorilla's like- - The gorilla's like, "Bavarian chocolate!"
- I didn't get you no, but I'll get your son.
Cutting the cake, cutting the cake.
(upbeat music) (soft logo music)