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Any experience or advice on night terrors?

474 Views 5 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  staceychev
Our dd#1 is 5.5. She has had night terrors on and off for almost a year now. Lately they are more frequent.
I thought she would have begun to grow out of them by now.

Any experience with these?

I wonder what causes them, how best to approach them, is there a way to prevent them......

She is definitely asleep when she is screaming and she sees something that scares her. It takes her about 3-5 minutes to get out of it. We've tried various things such as holding her, singing to her, talking to her, blowing in her face, running water nearby, flicking some water in her face, clapping our hands, etc

The screaming is so intense that it is upsetting for us but she does not remember the episodes at all. Dd#2 is always awoken by it and soon we will be spending half the week in a small one room cottage. I'm concerned about the effect on dd#2......and I'm concerned about what causes them. They are so intense and frequent that I can't help but think that something in her daily life is amiss....
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My ds is 4-1/2 and he has night terrors. Not very often. Maybe 1-2 times every 2 weeks. The first few times it happened it really freaked us out. We thought they were nightmares but then I remembered the term night terrors and did a bit of research and that's definitely what my ds has. He wakes 30-60 minutes after falling asleep in the evening, he is sweating, shaking and not really aware of us. The first few times it happened when I looked in his eyes I was so freaked out I actually started looking around the room to see the monster that was coming at us
. He also has no recollection of anything.

What works for us is to not say much at all but gently pick ds up and take him to the living room and sit in the rocking chair and rock him back to sleep. When we tried staying in his room with him it would take 15-20 minutes for him to "wake up" and settle down. Taking him out of the room seems to speed up the process and he's usually back to sleep in 5 minutes.

I have heard that they might occur more if your child is stressed. My ds is a very anxious child so I'm sure that it doesn't take much for him to feel some sort of stress. I've also heard that they might occur more if your child is overtired. We've seen that coorelation here.

They do usually outgrow them although I'm not sure when. Until then, everything I've read says to comfort them during the episode. Keep them stress-free as much as possible and keep bedtime regular and very predictable and soothing.
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Oh mama, these are hard to deal with

My dd had night terrors for about a year when she was three and has had a few since then (she's almost 5 now)

From what I've read, they are more related to sleep-walking than nightmares. I havn't read that they are related to stress. They do grow out of them, but often turn into sleep-walkers when they get older.

You are not supposed to try to wake them up, just be there to support hug them and take deep breaths yourself as they pass. Boy, what a way to wake up!
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thanks for the input!

I wonder why you're not supposed to try to wake them.....

Originally Posted by Jimibell View Post
I wonder why you're not supposed to try to wake them.....
From what I've read it sounds like you won't really be able to wake them up during a night terror anyways so don't bother trying because you will just get them more agitated (and yourself!). I did read another suggestion if you're dealing with very frequent night terrors. Wake them up around 30 minutes before the night terror and keep them awake for about 5 minutes. This interrupts the sleep cycle so they avoid that time when night terrors commonly occur. I've never tried this as my ds's episodes aren't frequent enough.
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I think the "don't wake them" edict comes from a fear that you'll be construed as part of the attack. I had night terrors until my late 20's (believe it or not, a visit to a shaman stopped them) and was a sleepwalker until I got pregnant, so I'm speaking from relatively recent experience. A night terror feels like you've superimposed an attack (rats, snakes, bugs, or shadow figures) over the dark bedroom. It's not that sort of alternate reality of a nightmare. It really is the bedroom, and since your child's eyes are open, he or she is really seeing the world as it is, just with some crucial additions! As far as what to do, I'm not sure. I do believe that night terrors are much worse for the witnesses than for the person experiencing them. Really, it's a few moments of adrenaline and heart-pounding fear, but unlike a nightmare that has lingering effects, a night terror dissolves as quickly as it came and leads back into sound sleep.
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