How do you handle 'Night Terrors'?

Natalie - posted on 01/19/2009 ( 26 moms have responded )

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My eldest son, who is now nearly 15 use to have the most terrifying night terrors imaginable.

It was so heart breaking and so difficult to comfort him, as he wouldn't wake up and was unaware I was even there.

Now my 2 year old daughter has started to have night terrors too, and i've found, if she doesn't have a nap during the day, then she is more than likely to have one or even two of these during the night which is distressing.



I was just wondering, does anyone elses kids have night terrors and what do you to handle to situation (night terror).

Any tips that have helped sooth your child back to sleep?

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April - posted on 01/19/2009

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DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES JOLT THE CHILD AWAKE OR YELL! MY youngest used to have night terrors. I beleive they are heredetary. I had then too as a child. You must talk in a calm and soothing voice do not get excited cause a night terror is their imagination and it is terrifiying for them. Also it is something they could have heard during the day or anything that up set them. It goes away after about two years. My youngest stopped having them when he was four. For me it just turned to horrible nightmares that i can sleep through. My son has not had a night terror in 3 years. Just remember to talk in calm voice and guide them back to bed. If there room is by stairs then get a baby gate a high one that they can not get over. And remember they look awake but are not. Same concept as a sleepwalker, do not scare or jolt them awake. hope this helps. My youngest started having them at 1 1/2 they carried on until he was 4 1/2. Hope that was helpful.

Tanya - posted on 01/21/2009

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My oldest grandson used to get night terrors but it was because he had ear infections all the time. Once we got tubes in his ears they stoped. I know that sometimes its not a medical issue that way but maybe worth the checking into just to make sure.



Also..



We used to take him outside and walk around with him in the middle of the night and look at the stars and talk about the moon and once he was responding back we knew he was awake. That used to calm him. But his mama couldnd do it he would run from her screaming and she would call me grandma and when I got there I was able to soothe him either back to sleep or we went for a walk together outside. I think maybe it only worked for me is cuz I was grandma and he had some sense of grandma radar I dunno. But thats how we did it.



Hope that helps.

Debby - posted on 01/21/2009

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Wow.  All these night terrors.  Brings back memories.  I have a question.  Do any of you know what the terrors are about.  Have any of your children discussed with you what they are, and possibly if they were watching a tv show, or something that was said that would trigger this.  When my mom was a child she had some issues with bed time, and she was raised as an athiest.  When I was younger, my mom became a christian.  When my night terrors happened I was taught to pray, and it went away.  I even prayed in my dreams believe it or not.  So if I had a terrifying dream, and i was not able to wake myself (which sometimes I was able to), then I would pray in the dream i was in, and the dream would become peaceful, and I was able to wake at that point or keep dreaming.  Sometimes I thought I was really awake.  However, when I got to be about 12 and friends would sleep over, they would then claim to experience the same things that I did, and that really frightened them.  But at that point being used to these experiences, I acted nonchalantly about it (which was also weird to them), and taught them to pray and call out to Jesus when these happened.  My sisters did the same.

Allison - posted on 01/19/2009

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my son suffered with night terrors from the age of 8 until he was about 18 i found they were easy to predict it only ever happened when he was really tired the only thing i found cured him was to have a set bedtime try to give them between 10 n 12 hrs per night it is harder when they are in their teens if he did have them i would gently talk to him tell him how much i loved him and after a couple of minutes lay him back down stay with him a few mins after gently talking to him in the morn he knew nothing



 

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Jullie Ann - posted on 04/13/2013

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My ten year old started having them last year when he ran a fever of 104 we rushed him to the E.R. thinking he was having a seizure, doctor said it's a night Terror and they are common in kids under 13. He had one or two more during that illness and not again till two weeks ago and he's had five from then to now (he has had a fever of 102 since Thursday). He walks into my room and gets in bed with me and I hold him really tight and sing or rhythmically tell him he's fine his name where he is until he wakes himself up and we play what color is this or he reads to me random words. Since dreams are a right brain thing and colors and words are left brain I know he is fully awake. When I asked my son's doc about it he sent me an info sheet saying to wake them before they have one which is impossible if you don't have a kid with a set pattern. Also Night terrors are a mid like state of consciousness during sleep that is very difficult to wake from and also hard to return to sleep. Night mares are dreams that are scary but the child usually wakes and is soothed quickly, these are usually triggered by scary movies and or food. My son has had two different things that he remembers floating balls of light and freezing holes.

Kaci - posted on 06/02/2011

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My daughter has just started to have night terrors, and we find that when she is very tired she will have them, even at nap time if she has been nighting her sleep! I have talked with my doctor and have done lots of research on these and they all say dont try to wake them. they will act like you are not there, and cry and scream, but dont try and wake them. it can make it worse.. the best thing that you can do is try and comfort them and make sure that they dont hurt themselves by falling or triping on something.. they will wake up and probably remember nothing.. but i did find these over the counter all natual sleeping pills called Hylands Calm forte for kids.. they help to relax and help with the restlessness.. i have just started them with my daughter and i think that it helps her relax a bit.. and you can give them at nap or at night before bed or after a night terror to help with them going back to sleep.. but they will eventually grow out of these terrors.. we just have to hang in there while they have these terrible things! glad to know that i am not alone

Tanya - posted on 01/22/2009

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Okay..I just want to say that night terrors are a medical condition and yes has to do with development,but most children with NT arnt able to be woke up because this is such a deep sleep. So the drs have told us to try to keep them safe. I have a friend whos daughter had them so badly they had to put her in the bathtub just to keep her in 1 place because the thrashing around was so extreem. The good news is that most children grow out of it because it is a developmental issue. Yes children that experience this are most likly to sleep walk. My daughter was a heavy sleep walker, even came in our bedroom one night and barged into our bedroom and thumped her daddy on the head with a newspapper and yelled wheres the tools to my room! (hee hee) She was completly asleep and to this day has no recolection of the event. She has woken up in the bathtub, basement on the floor and woke up with food in her mouth, aparantly she was stuffing bread in her mouth but didnt swallow.



My grandson had horrid night Terrors these are not normal nightmeres. This is something ur child can do for hours in the middle of the night with screaming crying fits and u cant even spank them awake. They are so asleep they wouldnt feel it anyways. So if ur child is waking up easily through it more than likly its not a night terror but just a nightmere.

Debra - posted on 01/22/2009

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Ok to make a long story short..What TV programs are they watching? I know when mine watch certain one they have night mares, Also some children have over active imaginations, I haven't really experienced to much of this I am a single mother of 7 5 boys and two girls three have now left the nest and I still have four ages are 18, 15, 13 and 9 it was just two nights ago my 13 year old told me of a bad dream he had and the only thing I can relate it to was a movie he watched the night before. So be aware what they are watching. Good luck.

Mandie - posted on 01/22/2009

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I have a 3.5 year old little girl who has been having these since she was 2.  At first, we had no idea that these were night terrors.  Then I saw her eyes.  It just didn't look like her.  She was having the REM eyes (rapid eye movements) and her expressions were very different.  I realized she was having night terrors then. 



These are the things I have tried.  I have eliminated TV time in the evening (with the exception of her favorite show, but it is atleast 1-2 hrs out from bedtime.  I find this helps her settle down easier for bed.  Also, longer book time/settle time. 



I have cut down on sugar, at one point eliminating.  This helped a little bit.  My daughter stopped taking naps just after 2.  She is a very high energy little girl.  Very smart, incredible vocab, creative, and just doesn't stop until she crashes.  It is an EVERY day struggle to get her to nap.  (yes I still try)  She needs them so bad, but she cannot settle down.  I believe night terrors are connected to developement milestones.  Whenever she has one, it seems the next day there is something new about her or she is communicating more. 



They say not to wake a child in a NT, but I wake mine.  SHe is in such a crying fit, that in order for her to settle down, I have to wake her. 



I don't know if this is helpful, but I am still in the throws of figuring it all out.  My pediatritian said that she is more likely to become sleep walker/talker as she gets older.  Does your son sleep walk/talk now?

Peggy - posted on 01/21/2009

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Hi there,
My eldest boy, who is now 23, had terrible terrible dreams in the middle of the night. I have no idea what it was all about. Anyway, one night, I decided I had to deal with this...so, in the middle of the night, he was screaming his head off (he was about 3) and said there were monsters in his room. So, I went and got the broom and dust pan...and, like I said, in the middle of the night, dust pan in hand, screaming child and in my night gown, I started to sweep in the bedroom. Under the bed, all over the floor, as if I was really sweeping, in the closet. I told him, I was sweeping all those monsters up, and I had them all in the dust pan. I then, with child in hand, dustpan in other, went downstairs, opened up the front door and threw them out the door. I said, "THERE, they are all gone". We went back upstairs, I cuddled with him for a little while, til he fell asleep and that was the END of it. No more screaming... I mean, not ever again.

This is the weirdest thing I ever did, but, for Jeremy...it worked.

Let me know how it works for you. It's certainly worth a try.

sashaps@telusplanet.net (Peggy)

Debby - posted on 01/21/2009

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I should mention that I can remember as far back as being a few months old, however I don't remember starting to dream till around the age of 3 years old.  And those dreams consisted of my mom leaving me in the dreams.  I would wake up crying wanting my mom.  then about 4 years old, the dreams were about demons (or were they dreams???).

Debby - posted on 01/21/2009

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Wow.  All these night terrors.  Brings back memories.  I have a question.  Do any of you know what the terrors are about.  Have any of your children discussed with you what they are, and possibly if they were watching a tv show, or something that was said that would trigger this.  When my mom was a child she had some issues with bed time, and she was raised as an athiest.  When I was younger, my mom became a christian.  When my night terrors happened I was taught to pray, and it went away.  I even prayed in my dreams believe it or not.  So if I had a terrifying dream, and i was not able to wake myself (which sometimes I was able to), then I would pray in the dream i was in, and the dream would become peaceful, and I was able to wake at that point or keep dreaming.  Sometimes I thought I was really awake.  However, when I got to be about 12 and friends would sleep over, they would then claim to experience the same things that I did, and that really frightened them.  But at that point being used to these experiences, I acted nonchalantly about it (which was also weird to them), and taught them to pray and call out to Jesus when these happened.  My sisters did the same.

Ann - posted on 01/20/2009

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I can't really help with how to comfort your child after a night terror because all children need different things, but, I may be able to help a little with the cause. My son developed serious night terrors around 9 months old, when he was teething. After weeks of absolutely no sleep, I was desperate. I happened to see an article about a study that was done regarding artificial colors. They found that artificial colors, particularly if they are combined with the preservative sodium benzoate can cause hyperactive behavior in very normal children. There was also a note that those artificial colors cause other problems, including night terrors. I couldn't imagine that that could be my problem because of his age. Then I realized the infant Tylenol I had been giving him for teething pain was purple.....Sure enough, when I stopped the Tylenol, the night terrors stopped. Unfortunately, most infant/children's meds are full of these colors. My son is now 3 1/2 and has never had another night terror. I am now extremely careful about any food, drink or med. He gets no artificial stuff.

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Ann, I don't think a 6month old would have night terrors. (but check with your ped) sounds more like seperation issues or something like that. Usually, night terrors start around 2 years old or so.

Tamara - posted on 01/20/2009

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Mine is starting to have them too and she's 15 months old. What we do is snuggle her close and do slow laps walking around the house. She calms down after about 15 minutes or so and than its back to sleep with nary a peep.

Christine - posted on 01/20/2009

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My son has had the night terrors for about 8 months now....they were bad at one point and we had no idea what it was.  he would scream in the middle of the night, around 10:30-11:30PM and could not be consoled and did not want to be picked up, in fact he would kick and push away from whoever went to get him.  Once we read up on it, I realized that picking him up was only prolonging the terror.  From then on we would keep an eye on naps and how tired he was when he went to bed and if he had one, we would go in and sit in his chair next to his crib to make sure he did not hurt himself.  It sucks but that is all you can do most times for them, they do not know you are there and being quiet seemed to work the best for us.  After we handed them that way, they diminished and now he only has one every couple of months if that..he is now going t be 3 in May....hope that helps!

Christine - posted on 01/20/2009

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My son has had the night terrors for about 8 months now....they were bad at one point and we had no idea what it was.  he would scream in the middle of the night, around 10:30-11:30PM and could not be consoled and did not want to be picked up, in fact he would kick and push away from whoever went to get him.  Once we read up on it, I realized that picking him up was only prolonging the terror.  From then on we would keep an eye on naps and how tired he was when he went to bed and if he had one, we would go in and sit in his chair next to his crib to make sure he did not hurt himself.  It sucks but that is all you can do most times for them, they do not know you are there and being quiet seemed to work the best for us.  After we handed them that way, they diminished and now he only has one every couple of months if that..he is now going t be 3 in May....hope that helps!

Ann - posted on 01/20/2009

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I dont mean to butt in on your post but I was wondering how you know?  My 6 month old has just started crying in her sleep during her naps.  A few times she couldnt be settled by patting and I picked her up and she would fight me but still be asleep!  I just tried to tell her mommy was there and hold her tightly..is that night terrors starting or just a baby thing?

Natalie - posted on 01/20/2009

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Thank you so much for all of your advice!!



I'm thinking my 2 year olds night terrors are triggered by being too tired and maybe he bed time need to be ajusted.

I'll keep all your suggestions in mind incase she happens to have another one.

I usually talk softly to her and try to give her a cuddle until it passes, but it can be very hard when she is pushing you away.

Debra - posted on 01/20/2009

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my eldest son suffered from night terrors from the ages 2 till around 10, he still has little ones now if very tired or ill, but he also sleepwalks so it was twice as scary, he'd try to leave the house saying things like his sister had been taken and he was going to get her back, we would just talk very calmly and quietly to him, lead him back to bed and reassure him she was ok and we'd sort it, if he was still in bed we would just comfort him stroking his forhead and cuddling him,whilst talking calmly, although sometimes he'd push you away, i know it can be very scary for you, just remember to talk softly and reasure them you will sort it out, maybe sing to her, hopefully she will grow out of them soon, take care, xx

Amy - posted on 01/19/2009

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Hi, i'm all about prayer! Maybe you are a beliver maybe not, but kids need to believe in something strong like God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit. I would pray with him before bed, pray for peace in his sleep and that the angels will be surrounding him!! This gives them a sense of peace and protection! Take it of live it, but this is the most efective thing I had ever try! Hope this helps!!!

Andrea - posted on 01/19/2009

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My daughter's pediatric neurologist suggested 3mg tablets of Melatonin.  It worked wonders at bed time and regulated her sleep.  She had night terrors when she was 4.  She's 10 now and hasn't had them since.  Every now and then, she asks for a melatonin when she's wound up and can't get to sleep.  It does the trick every time.

Carrie - posted on 01/19/2009

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My doctor suggested putting a blue light in my son's room.  After we did this his night terrors went from every night to maybe once a week or less. They were also a lot less intense.

Kim - posted on 01/19/2009

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Both of my sons experienced this when they were about 7 or 8. After being kinda freaked out at first, I asked the dr. and he told me what was going on. With older kids, you can't really make them nap. However, I just gently lead my son to bed, answer all of his questions positively and maybe sing softly as he falls back asleep. He usually falls asleep within 5 minutes and never remembers it in the morning!

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We just went through this over the summer. My daughter was just over 2 and would have nightly terrors- sometimes more than once during the night. I agree that the more over- tired they are the worse they become. I would suggest that you keep a steady bed time routine and get her to bed at her regular hour. I have heard that they often occur at roughly the same time every night and if you rouse her roughly 10 minutes before they start, it will "reset" her time clock and she may sleep through them and pretty soon they will fade. Ours were too irregular to do that. They only thing that helped us was co-sleeping. I realize that this is not ideal for everyone and I was not thrilled at doing it, but I figured that my little girl who was normally very independent and strong willed needed me to be there for her. When she woke up, I would simply hold her through the terror- even though she didn't even realize I was there and would continue to call for me- and then we would all go back to sleep. Often, if I heard her start to whimper, I could soothe her enough so she wouldn't fully "wake". It was easier to have her in our bed to do this than to go running to her room night after night. Then literally one night, she asked to go back into her crib and she has been fine since. This may not be an option for you, but it worked for us. That and making sure she got her regular naps and got to bed early with our usual night time routine. I hope your little one grows out of it soon...it can be very upsetting and trying for everyone.

Alesha - posted on 01/19/2009

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My oldest daughter has night terrors also. It is so bad that you can't tell this little disney princess girl that dreams come true, or she breaks down in tears. One of the reasons children have night terrors is they are too exhausted when they go to bed, so naps, earlier bedtimes, later get up times all help. Also, if you have religious beliefs that are comforting to you both, you might try using some sort of routine combining night time with religion. I'm a wiccan, so I blessed a bear for my daughter and gave it to her to sleep with. It's name is a secret, and she can call on it for protection when she needs it. That has actually helped a lot.

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