Finding can help parents intervene before the trauma and anxiety of being bullied grow worse.
If your child suffers from regular nightmares, it could be a sign that they were a victim of bullying in the past, reveals a new British-led study.
It’s a finding that could be used as a warning bell, say researchers at the University of Warwick, and help parents intervene before the trauma and anxiety of being bullied grow worse.
Presented at a meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Vancouver, Canada over the weekend, researchers said that night terrors were more common in 12-year-olds who had reported being bullied when they were eight and 10 years old.
“Our findings indicate that being bullied is a significant stress/trauma that leads to increased risk of sleep arousal problems, such as nightmares or night terrors,” said study co-author Dieter Wolke.
“It is an easily identifiable indicator that something scary is being processed during the night. Parents should be aware that this may be related to experiences of being bullied by peers, and it provides them with an opportunity to talk with their child about it.
For their study, researchers followed 6,438 children from birth to the age of 12. When the children were eight and 10 years old, they were interviewed about bullying, and at 12, about nightmares, night terrors and sleep walking.
Researchers found that by the age of 12, nearly a quarter (24%) of children had nightmares, while 9% suffered from night terrors.
Night terrors differ from nightmares, as they’re far more dramatic and occur during non REM sleep, often two to three hours after falling asleep. Children might suddenly sit upright in bed or scream in distress. Breathing will be faster, and they may thrash around and sweat profusely.
Night terrors also differ from nightmares as kids are unlikely to recall the experience the following day.
Overall, about 13% reported sleep walking and 36% had at least one type of parasomnia.
After adjusting for factors like IQ, existing psychiatric diagnosis, abuse and domestic violence, researchers found that children who were victimised were significantly more likely to manifest their distress, anxiety and depression in sleep-related disorders. – AFP Relaxnews
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