Cognitive behavior therapy may help young children with night terrors have fewer behavior problems tied to poor sleep than kids who receive therapy that doesn’t include advice on how to manage symptoms, a recent study suggests. 

Night terrors affect about 10% of children, and are much more debilitating than the occasional nightmares that wake kids every so often.

Researchers randomly assigned the children into two groups. One group received cognitive behavior therapy involving structured play with their parents designed to build coping skills. The other group received non-directive therapy involving playtime with parents but no guidance on how to manage the sleep issues.

Four weeks after treatment, all of the children had significantly fewer nighttime fears and sleep disruptions. With cognitive therapy, however, parents reported more improvements in sleep and behavior.