Can horror films cause night terrors?

My child occasionally has night terrors, maybe once a month. Halloween is around the corner so of course he wants to see some horror films. Will watching scary movies increase the likelihood of night terrors, or are they something that can't really be prevented?

Doctors Answers (2)

SomnoDiagnostics, Inc.
Answered on: 10/23/2013

Horror films can certainly scare children unreasonably. If he already has problems with night terrors, even though I am a nurse, not a physician, I would say he doesn't need to watch it. But, treatment for night terrors should be evaluated by a sleep physician to determine the frequency and severity and discuss if treatment is indicated.

Joseph Lee, DDS, FICOI
Answered on: 10/18/2013

Night terrors are having vivid dreams during the stage 3, non-REM portions of sleep. In some instances, night terrors in children can stem from disrupted sleep due to a sleep breathing disorder. If your child watched horror films, he may have more nightmares since that happens during REM sleep. That is a stage where your mind is processing input. I'm not sure how much scientific validity this has, however, if your child watches something happy before going to bed, maybe he or she will have a less likely chance of nightmares.