Nightmares are frightening dreams that awaken the child, who is often crying and upset. Parents can reassure the child, rub the child's back, provide some repeat of a bedtime routine such as reading a story, and then allow the child to settle into sleep again.
Night terrors (or sleep terrors) are characterized by a child who cries out, appears frightened, and has tachycardia and tachypnea. However, in contrast to nightmares, the child having a night terror is not fully awake and may appear disoriented (Mayo Clinic, 2014). Parents should quietly talk to and comfort the child, allowing the child to return to sleep. The child has no recollection of these events the next morning.