Startled in sleep – why is your child suddenly standing upright in bed?

Sleep should actually be a time when children recover from the day’s impressions . You’re still young and need lots of sleep to keep development from being affected.

But sometimes it could happen that the night is not so relaxed. Your child wakes up at night to either sit scared in bed or to aggressively get out of bed. It hardly knows what is happening itself and has to understand the situation.

How can you behave when your child is startled in sleep and what can be the reasons for this?


The night fright manifests itself when your child suddenly wakes up from deep sleep. It is literally torn from the dream and waking up is difficult to understand.

This creates confusion and, at times, fear. Your child may be difficult to address and may be sitting in bed with their eyes wide open.

As a rule, this condition should only last a few minutes . In individual cases, however, this shock can last for up to an hour.

The cause of this phenomenon lies in the processing of the day’s events. Stress or lack of sleep can aggravate the ” pavor nocturnus “, as the nocturnal startle is called.

There is a strenuous phase for your child during school enrollment . This time is more often accompanied by the startle. Some children even experience this shock several times during the night, but cannot remember it the next morning.


It may feel threatening at first and you hardly know what to do with this behavior. But the startle during sleep occurs more frequently in children. Up to 20 percent of all children experience this phenomenon at night.

Small children between the ages of 4 and 12 are particularly affected Observations show that startling occurs in families. So there seems to be a genetic component to this sleep behavior.

However, based on the startle, no further risks are known. So it cannot be said that mental illness is more common in children who suffered from night terrors.

The frequency of falls decreases with increasing age. Only about 1 percent of all adults continue to suffer from the startle.


If you are just experiencing that your child is startled loudly at night and maybe even screams, you can intervene soothingly. In most cases, the night terrors are completely harmless. In addition, the children do not experience this moment consciously and cannot remember it the next morning. Therefore, only gentle intervention is necessary so that your child falls asleep better again.

First of all, you should avoid waking the child. While this may be the most obvious solution, it may be difficult for your child to fall asleep again afterwards. So don’t try to wake your child out of deep sleep.

It is better if you speak to your child from the outside in a soothing voice. Then it will calm itself down within a few minutes and fall asleep as if nothing had happened. The next day, your child cannot remember this incident anyway and will not perceive it as a burden.

However, if the night terrors occur frequently, it can disturb sleep. Therefore, emphasis should be placed on good sleep hygiene .

For children, they should let the evening end quietly . The television is not suitable for evening entertainment. This could negatively affect deep sleep. Reading a book or doing some other quiet activity is better.

regular daily routine is also important for your child Your child should go to sleep at the same bed times and develop a certain routine. This could be a nice bedtime story or a radio play. Then your child will fall asleep much easier and have fewer problems at night.

Sufficient exercise during the day is also beneficial. Your child should exhaust themselves and not sit in front of the television or at the desk all day. With this excess energy, it will be harder to fall asleep in the evening. Fresh air and a pleasant environment in which your child feels comfortable also improve sleep. To take away the fear of the night, you could use a night light for children or a starry sky , for example . Then the night becomes less threatening and it is easier for your child to relax.


It is normal for some of the children to be startled at night It may seem threatening to an outsider, but the children are not exposed to any real danger. They don’t even realize why they are scared and seem absent at the moment. The state of consciousness is reminiscent of people who sleepwalk at night.

Talk to your child calmly and organize the daily routine so that they can go to bed relaxed in the evening. Then this phenomenon will disappear by itself over time and your child will sleep through the nights without any problems.

Jamie Clark

Hello, I’m Jamie Clark, 32 years old, and I have been living in the USA for a few years.
Since I was a child, I have suffered from a house dust allergy, severely affecting me. I felt the effects both while exercising and while sleeping. Constant sneezing after getting up and difficult breathing were the consequences. The allergy has also developed into asthma, which is still a sporting restriction today.

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