Night Terrors & Vivid Dreams - What Do They Mean?

Causes of sleep terrors

Almost everybody has experienced a vivid nightmare, but a night terror is something quite different. Night terrors most often affect children and they are a consequence of waking up abruptly from non-REM sleep.

In this post, we'll take a closer look at night terrors and vivid dreams. We'll explore what causes night terrors as well as the importance of deep sleep.

Night Terrors In Children

what causes night terrors

Night terrors are very common in children aged between 3 and 8 years old, but you'll find that children grow out of the phase as they grow older. While those night terrors can be very shocking to witness, you can rest assured that children do not suffer from long-term psychological damage as a consequence of those night terrors.

If a child experiences a night terror, they will be likely to shout and thrash around. They might scream and the child could even leave their bed in a panic. In some instances, the child's eyes will be open but they will not be entirely awake.

Why You Might Experience Night Terrors and Vivid Dreams

Given that night terrors are triggered by a rapid transition from non-REM sleep to a state of waking, there are lots of factors that can increase a child's susceptibility to night terrors.

Here's a closer look at those factors:


Scientific and anecdotal evidence suggests that some children have a genetic predisposition toward night terrors. Families with a history of sleepwalking or night terrors might find that their children are more likely to suffer from night terrors. 

Disturbed sleep

If your child wakes abruptly from a deep sleep, they'll be more susceptible to a night terror. This means that anything that wakes your child up suddenly could cause a night terror. This means that excitement, anxiety, sudden noises or even full bladders could cause sleep terrors.

Accelerated sleep

If your child reaches a deep sleep quicker than usual, they might be more susceptible to night terrors. This means that tiredness and medication might send your child to sleep quicker than usual and trigger a night terror if they awake.

What Vivid Dreams ; Night Terrors Mean

Lots of people with an interest in psychoanalysis like to analyze the meaning of their dreams. Some psychoanalysts engage in dream interpretation to try and understand how a dream or nightmare represents a person's wishes, desires, or conflicts.

This is by no means a definite science, though, and there is no consensus on exactly what dreams and night terrors mean.

While night terrors and vivid dreams are common in children, there may be some instances where those are triggered by frightening experiences and anxiety. You should pay attention to the sleeping habits of your children and identify any potential issues.

You should try to establish a regular routine around sleep, for instance, and make sure that your children do not consume emotionally-stimulating material before they go to sleep.

If your child suffers from recurring or consistent nightmares and it becomes an issue, you might want to speak with a specialist to see whether or not there are practical steps that you can take to solve the issue.

The Importance Of Sleep

Sleep is very important to living a healthy and happy life. All too often, people have a tendency to neglect their sleeping schedule. This often means that their sleep falls below par in terms of quality and quantity.

Sleep is so important for the following reasons:

  • It helps the body to repair itself
  • It helps people to maintain a healthy weight
  • It helps people to protect their cardiovascular health
  • It energizes and replenishes a person.

sleep terrors

Here's a closer look at some of the most confusing parts of sleep:

What is deep sleep?

Deep sleep is also referred to as slow-wave sleep. This is an important part of the five-part sleep cycle that is critical for a healthy brain and memory function. Rousing from this state of sleep unexpectedly can cause night terrors.

Is REM or deep sleep more important?

All five parts of the sleep cycle are very important, of course, but scientists agree that deep sleep is most critical when it comes to staying healthy and feeling rested.