Here are a few key distinctions between a nightmare and night terrors: Nightmares are scary dreams that tend to take place during the second half of the night and result in your kid waking up really scared. Night terrors usually happen earlier in the evening and result in you being really scared. That’s because night terrors manifest as your kid thrashing or screaming or even appearing awake and glassy-eyed and weirded out – but the key difference from a nightmare is that they’re not actually awake. If your kid is having night terrors, you can usually soothe and calm them without them waking up, and they won’t even realize it happened. A nightmare, on the other hand, could result in them too upset to fall asleep. In that case, employ the basics – night lights, cracked doors … an app that keeps monsters away – whatever it takes to get them confident in the dark. With night terrors, just make sure they’re not thrashing around so much they could get hurt, and make sure you have a stiff drink ready once they’ve calmed down – you’re going to need it.