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Night Terrors

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

a few of my children have experienced nightmares and night terrors but my almost 8 year old still hasnt stopped and lately its been worse.  (could be brought on by new baby coming and a cranky mom?)  reading about it gives little as to what you can do during an episode, wondering if anyone else dealt with this from ages 3-12 years old?


Night terrors are different from a nightmare.  the children are not awake, online they say they dont even know parents are there but in our case we can ask questions and talk to her and she interacts with us, does what she is told, ect..........the episode can also last for longer then 30 minutes.  You will get her all calmed down and then she will start it up again too.  she never remembers it the next morning! 


if you have been through this the support is welcome!!

post #2 of 8

my two oldest both had them pretty bad, but my oldest was especially long lasting. from all ive read, tried, only a few things really worked for us. first i noticed that the terrors were caused mostly by beeing over tired. when they were little, i added an extra nap to the day (just a little 30 min, snooze) and that worked well. once my daughter was older, i started puting on a movie in the evening, and having all of the kids lay down with pillows and blankets to watch. it got them all really relaxed, and sometimes they even fell asleep durring the movie. you may need to move her bed time up earlier, or add an afternoon rest/nap time. i have also heard, but never tried, using vics vapor rub at night. we also cut out almost all processed sugars and artificial colors form the kids diets (for other reasons) and we noticed an instant change in the kids sleep habbits. hope that you find something that helps.

post #3 of 8

I realise this a late reply but if you read it or to anyone else searching for tips try a wet towel on her feet. It works wonders. For some children it just snaps them out of it or just clams them down enough to get them back to sleep especially if they're inclined to have a prolonged episode. DS nearly 5 will talk and answer questions too but usually doesn't know where he is and most of what he's saying doesn't make sense. It is best not to ask any questions or try to get them to talk as this will prolonge the episode and make them more confused and upset. You may just need to remain with her for around 30 minutes or so afterwards to ensure that she is fully asleep again and the episode over. Also best to leave her feet completely uncovered. Hope this helps.

post #4 of 8


Many studies have shown that waking a child up about 30 minutes *before* the time they usually have a night terror is very effective (although sometimes it take a while to be consistently effectively so that you no longer have to wake them up.)  This means you have to spend a bit of time tracking the most common time of the night when they occur.  The hardest part of this whole thing is actually waking them up (and I know once I get My little guy to sleep I would dread waking him up again!)   To be effective you have to wake them *completely* and keep them fully awake for at least 5 minutes.  But it really does seem to help a large majority of kids (about 90%). 


Hope this helps!


- Karrie


post #5 of 8
My son, now 3, has suffered from night terrors since he was a baby. I remember them from when he was 6 months old--he thrashed in my arms, screamed, and had that 'possesed' look in his eyes. They were regular for a while, them went away for a while, then came back for a while, etc. They were definitely more common when he was overtired, esp. when dropping a nap in the day time. Sometimes he even had them at naps. After he dropped from 2 to 1 nap a day, the terrors went away for a long time, until now, at 3, as he is dropping from 1 to no naps.

They are very hard for us, very prolonged. His whole body is tense, like a rock, and shaking. He is crying, screaming things like, 'no!!' and 'mama!!' I go to him and sit with him. If I try touching him it makes it worse. It is so hard, though because he is so upset!

I have looked them up online and at one point I found a site that had people who as adults remembered their terrors. They described things like seeing their mother there, but she was deformed into a monster, or different in some way. One person described seeing only spiders everywhere. I think it is not always true that they don't remember. My DH had them when he was little and he remembers too. I think if you do wake up and come completely out of it, then they can remember. Anyway, I have a lot of sympathy both for the children that have these and the parents that have to go through them as well!

I also read about waking them up 20-30 mins prior but I don't think we tried it. I also read about wetting their feet and keeping them uncovered, but a wet wash cloth sounds more effective than trying to get them to the bathroom. Another person said it seemed to be related to having to pee. I think it might be more like anything can trigger if it's the right moment, like having to pee, needing a sip of water (we have experienced both of these which were relieved when he got what he needed), or a noise, or just nothing.

Anyway, I'm always curious about people's experiences.
post #6 of 8

I understand how upsetting it is to go through the night terrors. My brother had them and I remember how upset my mom was and sometimes it scared me too! My daughter started having what we thought were night terrors when she was young. It turns out she was actually having seizures. She has benign rolandic epilepsy. Her seizures totally appeared to be night terrors. She had an MRI and sleep study done with video monitoring and that is how she was diagnosed. The good news is they grow out of it and rarely need medication. My daughter is not on medication and only has them every few months or so. 


Perhaps doing an MRI and sleep study could help determine the problem/make sure it is just night terrors.

post #7 of 8

Just wanted to post to update -- we had another terror last night, and I tried the wet washcloth trick. He got more upset when I put it on his feet, but then, within 2 minutes, he came back to reality and wanted me to hold him and rock him back to sleep. While it then took a while to fall asleep (maybe 10 mins), he totally snapped out of the terror, and we reduced the total time of the disturbance from what can be 20-30 mins to only 7 mins of terror. Not sure if it's coincidence but I will try this again!


Good point on the seizures -- I never knew they could present like a night terror!

post #8 of 8

I'm glad the washcloth trick seemed to help. :)

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