Any suggestions on how to calm a child during a night terror or help prevent them?

MOST HELPFUL POSTS

~Jennifer - posted on 09/14/2009

4,164

61

369

When my son was having them the first thing I was told was NOT to try to wake him in the midst of the terror. You have to let it run its course.

The previous poster who mentioned interrupting the sleep pattern BEFORE the terror started is absolutely correct. Usually, night terrors happen at the same time each night, maybe an hour or 2 after falling asleep. Try to record how long your child has been asleep when the terror occurs, and after figuring out the timing, gently rouse the child enough to break the sleeping pattern, but not fully wake him / her in the 15 or so minutes before the 'terrors' usually start. Rub their back or turn them over to their other side, shift them in the bed a little, anything that 'interrupts' their normal sleep routine.

Sometimes trying to hold or rock your child to calm them will prolong the night terror, so it's (most of the time) best just to let it run itself out without touching the child - just make sure (if they're flailing around) that there's nothing in the child's area that they can injure themselves with (ie: if they're 'sleepwalking' and have toys on the floor they can trip over, or if there are any corners / furniture that they may bang off of during the terror). The only good thing about night terrors is that the child often has no memory of it whatsoever, but it's SO hard for us, as parents, to just stand by and watch while feeling so helpless. Night terrors are more common in boys, and generally will disappear as they grow older (normally, they stop around the age of 5, if not sooner).

If you're very worried, I would suggest a sleep study with a pediatric neurologist, who may have more answers for you.

Best of luck.

Barbara - posted on 09/14/2009

83

29

13

my son was having them almost everynight so i took him to the doctor. he often would sleep walk too. She suggested that about an hour before he would normally "wake" with the night terror go and partially wake him up. Not fully awake but just enough to interupt his sleep pattern. She had me do that for a week and then see if that corrected it and it did. they still come back every couple of months but are getting better. I hope this helps.

Laura - posted on 09/16/2009

69

8

4

My husband and nearly all 4 of his siblings have sleep disturbances (sleep walking and night terrors). Our oldest daughter has them as well. I find that if we stick to a very strict sleep schedule she has fewer. When we miss a nap or stay up late they increase. Neither my husband or daughter ever remember-which makes me feel a little better that she is not remembering something frightening-I just speak to them in a very calm voice and get them back to sleep. I know how scary it is and how helpless you feel but they do seem to have fewer with age and consistency of schedule.

[deleted account]

A part of them can hear you. I had night terrors when I was small and I do remember waking during one when I was about five. Now, the night terror didn't stop, but I came to my own conscious awareness during the night terror - as if surfacing from sleep.

First, let me say that I was not frightened or upset. So if other children experience a similar thing, I don't think they are aware of the terror being played out by their physical body. Here's what I remember...

I could hear someone screaming and I could hear my mother telling me that I was safe and that everything was okay. Kinda like they say people can still hear you when they are in a coma. I was also aware that my mother was rocking my body on her lap. I remember calmly thinking that I knew I was safe and being confused why my mother thought I needed to be told so. Then I began to realize that it was me screaming and that my body was thrashing, but I could only feel these things at a distance and couldn't effect my actions or volume in any way. It was almost as if I was outside my body observing. I remember trying really hard to tell my mother that I knew it was okay, because she kept talking to me as if I couldn't hear. I remember feeling frustrated that i couldn't communicate, couldn't get my body to respond. This seemed to go on for a while. Then suddenly I was back in my body, able to tell her, and take a breath, and be still.

As an adult I have had, "out of body," experiences and, "sleep paralysis," and the sensations are similar. They can be frightening if you don't know what is happening, but they don't bother me now as I consider them just other types of dream activity. I guess my best advice is to be supportive. I could hear my mom talking to me, so chances are your kids might too. Best with all your children! Lichen

This conversation has been closed to further comments

19 Comments

View replies by

Adele - posted on 06/28/2011

5

20

0

My Niece had night terrors and she used to stay the night at our house alot. I didn't know she had them until all of a sudden in the middle of the night she had one and scared the heck out of me! I spoke to her mom and she told me what it was. Apparently she had been having them for a long time and they didn't know what to do. I work in a pharmacy that the pharmacist is also a Homeopath, so I spoke to her about it and she recommended a homeopathic Phosphorus (I think 200CH). I got it and gave it to my niece everytime she came for a sleep over and it worked like a charm! My sister didn't really believe at first so she didn't buy any, but after about 4 or 5 more sleepovers and having it work at my place she was still having the terrors all the time at home, her mom finally went and bought some. Now she doesn't have to take it all the time and it has gotten to be way less frequent.
One thing that I have heard from alot of people is to just keep them safe when they're having one , but don't try to wake them!

Good luck!

PS: If you don't have a homeopath nearby you can order it online. Maybe google 'Night Terrors Homeopathy'.

Adele - posted on 09/17/2009

5

20

0

Hello, my name's Adele and I have a neice that has night terrors really bad. She spends the night at our house quite often and she has scared the crap out of me several times in the middle of the night from a dead sleep, so I went and talked to Suzanna (the Pharmacist and Homeopathic specialist at the Bay pharmacy in PG) and she gave me some homeopathic remedy for night terrors. My neice has taken this remedy every time she's spent the night and hasn't had a terror since. She forgets to take it when she's at home and she still has them, so I know the remedy is working. Good luck! Scary stuff!



Adele

[deleted account]

My oldest had night terrors. As a new mother this is very frightening. We were able to hold him and take him to the sink then run his foot under water. He would wake up, look around and put his head on my shoulder. He was soon fast asleep. This was a suggestion from a child specialist and I so glad we learned of this option.

Elaina - posted on 09/16/2009

1

34

0

My son used to have nightmares really bad when he was 4 and 5. Like one of the ladies said, it was due to stress at pre-school and other issues with his estranged father who was being reintroduced into his life through a court case at the time. I would talk to him as he slept while hugging him and telling him I loved him and it was going to be okay. Usually that would wake him from his dream and he would drift peacefully back to sleep moments later without any more issues in the morning. Nights that were specially traumatic, I'd let him talk it out if he remembered it and then I'd read him a very short 3 minute story and talk about the story. Like wasn't it funny when they Hopped on Pop? Anything to change the mood and topic. Also never be afraid to let your baby come sleep with you for the night on the really bad times, they wont make it a habit unlless you let them, and your bond together can only grow stronger from it. I hope some of this helps you and your baby!

Kenzie - posted on 09/16/2009

2

20

0

I would give them some sleepy tea, found at all local stores and is healthy and safe. It calms them before bed, and they sleep soundly. I also would read a fun book that would give them a fun imagination before falling asleep.

Johnny - posted on 09/15/2009

8,686

26

322

I had night terrors as a child. I did not have any recollection of having them when I woke up, usually surrounded by my parents or panicked looking adults if I was away from home. To be honest, even at the time, I was not overly traumatized by them, I usually forgot about it by morning (and didn't appreciate being reminded... I was embarrassed). I grew out of them when I was around 10 years old. Like a previous poster mentioned, I believe they were brought on by anxiety that built up during the day time. I was a very nervous child, and stressful situations or high social expectations usually brought out night terrors. If this is the case, depending on the age of your child, play therapy might be helpful to assist them in overcoming their anxieties.

Melanie - posted on 09/15/2009

7

0

0

One more thing - - - my brother had night terrors as a child, he was under severe stress at school and it was manifesting at night - you may want to consider his stress level during the day (daycare, school, bullies) and rescue him as needed. You are the best judge of what is bothering your child!!

Melanie - posted on 09/15/2009

7

0

0

Sometimes "night terror" can be caused by a parasite. If you have animals or if your child plays outside at all, is a thumb sucker or even not - you should treat him for worms periodically. I know it sounds awful but if that is the problem, would be a pretty easy fix. It is very common and can awaken a child in the middle of the night. You can check their bottom at night while they are asleep with a flashlight and can see the little pin worms. Check with your pediatrician for a treatment.

Jennifer - posted on 09/14/2009

1

2

0

My son has been having night terrors since he was 2. He is now 6.

We did all the sleep studies, EEGs, etc. Nothing helped.

My best advice is, most likely they will grow out of it (like my doctor has told me...but in the meantime, I a sleep deprived). Give them a nap for as long as you can (I did till he went to kindergarten), keep on a strict bedtime routine, a fan blowing (like a box fan on the floor) and as far as calming them down, just soft voice and reassurance.

Best of luck to you.

Christina - posted on 09/14/2009

17

19

0

My oldest had night terrors when she was younger and her Doctor told me there was nothing I could do (BIG HELP). Since I couldn't just do nothing while she cried, I would pick her up and rock her. While it didn't really stop the terrors it helped keep me calm enough to handle them and she did eventually stop. I hope someone is able to give you some advice that is really helpful.

Join Circle of Moms

Sign up for Circle of Moms and be a part of this community! Membership is just one click away.

Join Circle of Moms