My 2 year old has started to scream during the night while she is still asleep, ive been told these are night terrors does any one know how i can stop these?

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Tanya - posted on 10/08/2010

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i have cut and pasted my experience and the solution I found below. It worked for me and I felt being pro-active rather than sitting and waiting for my daughter to 'grow out of them' the best option for me. I hope this helps.
I am a mother that has survived 'Night Terrors' my "middle" daughter is now 9 and had night terrors from approx 8-10months old until she was 6 nearly 7 years old and they were nightly, there were no breaks or nights off, it was every night between 11.10pm and 1.30am. Whilst on holidays we had security called on us because the prople in the room next to us thought we were abusing our daughter. They are awful, scary and hurtful. You feel totally helpless and useless because you cant ease their terror/fears. But hang in there, you do have options. I did a lot of research back when there wasn't much around.
I spent a lot (wasted) time and money on Doctors, Paesiatricians, Paediatricians who supposedly specialised in night terrors, herbal remedies, music, this and that all for nothing. I was told, she will grow out of it, try giving her this, try doing that. None of it worked, Phernergan - mild anthistamine/sedative they give children for allergies to help them relax or sleep had the adverse effect. I was litterally at my wits end and I know that it had a part to play in the break up of my first marriage. Sleep Deprevation will damage even the strongest of relationships over time. The night terrors will effect your childs behaviour, immune system, digestion and nervous systems you need to consider everything. Diet, intollerances, allergies, energy levels.
My first point of advice is make a diary or all food and fluids taken with what preservatives and sugars etc are in those foods, what activities and how their behaviour is. Do this for a 4 week period religiously, this will give you a true indication of when the changes start happening and you can always refer back to the diary when discussing the situation with your doctor/paediatrician/health carer etc.
Have a look at a book called 'Fed Up' by Sue Dengate. She has specialised in food intollerances and allergies there is a lot of merrit in the research she has done and the results she has found. There is a section or reference to 'Night Terrors' and this was part of my solution, I can not guarantee any of this will work for your child but it is worth a try and won't hurt them, even if you think it might be drastic. I have tried this method and perseveared and it worked in 7 days.

When my daughter was 6 as a last resort before giving her tranquilisers I took her to see a Natropath/Homeopath, I had never seen or spoken to one myself so I was a little sceptical to say the least, but I had not other options left. He took a blood analysis, iridology test general questions. He placed her on a strict 90 day food plan, where she had to irradicate all sugars and Yeast/wheat from her diet. My daughter was barely at minimum weight for her age anyway and I had real concerns for her weight and health on this food plan. It was the same food plan that is given for sufferers of 'Candiasis Albicans' or 'Systemic Candiasis' which is basically too much of the Thrush bacteria in the blood system. She had only ever had thrush as an infant at 6 weeks old that she got from her normal position coming through the birth canal. Anyway, it had been in her bood system for that long it caused problems in all the above areas I mentioned especially her digestive sytem and led to 'leaky gut'syndrome. I am telling you all this in so much detail because 'Night Terrors' are not straight forward or easily explained. Some children never grow out of them.
We had to be creative with her food, and make a lot of changes as Natural Sugars that are found in fruit and dairy (anything ending in 'ose' glucose, sucrose, lactose etc.etc) was out completely as it takes the full 90days to kill the organisms and its spores in the blood system. It was hard work, but we did it.
My daughters firs night of sound sleep occurred 7 nights later, my second husband and I didn't sleep at all as we were still expecting her to wake and go through the now normal routine, but she didn't. Almost immediately her personality changed, she was happier, no more massive mood swings, no more always being tired and grumpy. She is a different kid and such an absolute pleasure.
We maintain a 'Detox' for 1 week every 3-6 months depending on how she is feeling and behaving. We maintain the vitamins, probiotics and limit the sugars and yeast/intake. This worked for us and I hope if you can give it a try it will work for you. Good Luck.
There is light at the end of the tunnel.

Penny - posted on 12/23/2008

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My son, he will be 5 in Jan, went through the same thing around 2 yrs old and lasted about a year. There really isn't anything that you can do, I have read it does more harm to wake them up. I would sometimes just go in his room during an episode and rub/pat his back and "sush" to help calm him down. He never woke up while doing this. We always wondered how he could have night terrors at such a young age. Never did get an answer, evidently it just happens in a percentage of children. I know it is frustrating to not have an answer or solution, but she will grow out of it. My son went through it for a little over a year and then just one day it stopped. Good luck!

Mandy - posted on 12/22/2008

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We have had the same problem when our daughter is over-tired also. It stopped when we moved up her bedtime by an hour. Although, they still sometimes occur if she gets in bed too late or skips her nap. Good luck!

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Tanya - posted on 10/08/2010

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There are a lot of other parents going through this, just like you. Reach out to them, the support will be worth it.

Giovanna - posted on 12/24/2008

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True sleep terrors are a more intense form of partial arousal. They are considerably less common than confusional arousals, and are seldom described in popular parenting literature. True sleep terrors are primarily a phenomenon of adolescence. They occur in less than 1% of the population. These bizarre episodes begin with the child suddenly sitting bolt upright with the eyes bulging wide-open, and emitting a blood-curdling scream. The child is drenched in sweat with a look of abject terror on his or her face. The child will leap out of bed, heart pounding, and run blindly from an unseen threat, breaking windows and furniture that block the way. Thus true sleep terrors can be quite dangerous, in that injury during these episodes is not unusual. Thankfully they are much shorter in duration than the more common confusional arousals of the pre-school period.



The tendency toward sleepwalking, confusional arousals, and true sleep terrors often runs in families. The events are often triggered by sleep deprivation or by the sleep schedule's shifting irregularly over the preceding few days. A coincidentally timed external stimulus, such as moving a blanket or making a loud noise, can also trigger a partial arousal (which again shows that the event is a sudden neural storm rather than a result of a complicated dream).



Interestingly, a recent study published in the journal Pediatrics in January 2003, showed that children who have recurrent partial arousal states may also have other sleep disorders (including sleep disordered breathing and restless leg syndrome) that may benefit from a physician’s care.



Treatment usually involves trying to avoid letting the child get over-tired, and trying to keep the wake/sleep schedule as regular as possible. When an event does occur, do not try to wake the child -- not because it is dangerous, but because it will tend to prolong the event. It is generally best not to hold or restrain the child, since her subjective experience is one of being held or restrained; she would likely arch her back and struggle all the more. Instead, try to relax and to verbally comfort the child if possible. Speak slowly, soothingly, and repetitively. Turning on the lights may also be calming. Protect your child from injury by moving furniture and standing between him or her and windows. In most cases the event will be over in a matter of minutes. True night terrors, or bothersome confusional arousals, can also be treated with medications, hypnotherapy, or with other types of relaxation training.



Recently, my youngest son was having a confusional arousal, and his mother observed that these events are most common at the same ages that children are becoming aware of the bladder feeling full during sleep. Perhaps some of these kids just need to go to the bathroom? We stood him in front of the toilet, and he urinated, still not awake. The episode faded abruptly, and he returned to sleep. The calm was dramatic.



Was this a coincidence? Or might this be a revolutionary new help for parents whose kids have these frightening episodes? A number of readers have tried this approach. Most said it worked wonders; a few said it had no effect. If you try it, let me know the results, either way. Together we can learn more about the wonder and mystery of sleep in children. I have sat with my children through confusional arousals, and know how powerfully these episodes tug at a parent's heart. Just understanding what they are (normal childhood sleep phenomena that children outgrow -- not a sign of maladjustment or the result of bad parenting) helps tremendously.



Alan Greene MD FAAP





I really Hope this helps! PLease let me know if it does, and if you have any questions dont hesitate to get back to me! Take care and Happy Holidays!

Giovanna - posted on 12/24/2008

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Yes! I have a 20 months old son, that for 8 MONTHS would go into this rage of sccreamming, arching his back, kicking his legs. Sometime would scream so hard he would throw up....GOD! I did no know what to do! Doctors told me ..."Oh you know, its probably gas" or " Nighmares" (which are compleatly DIFFERENT!! ) I will give you word for word advice, that has worked for me! Sometimes if I dont stick on top of it, then he will fall into another terror episode.



Within fifteen minutes of your daughter's falling asleep, she will probably enter her deepest sleep of the night. This period of slow wave sleep, or deep non-REM sleep, will typically last from forty-five to seventy-five minutes. At this time, most children will transition to a lighter sleep stage or will wake briefly before returning to sleep. Some children, however, get stuck -- unable to completely emerge from slow wave sleep. Caught between stages, these children experience a period of partial arousal.



Partial arousal states are classified in three categories: 1) sleep walking, 2) confusional arousal, and 3) true sleep terrors. These are closely related phenomena that are all part of the same spectrum of behavior.



When most people (including the popular press and popular parenting literature) speak of sleep terrors, they are generally referring to what are called confusional arousals by most pediatric sleep experts (Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine in the Child, by Ferber and Kryger). Confusional arousals are quite common, taking place in as many as 15% of toddler and pre-school children. They typically occur in the first third of the night on nights when the child is over-tired, or when the sleep-wake schedule has been irregular for several days.



A confusional arousal begins with the child moaning and moving about. It progresses quickly to the child crying out and thrashing wildly. The eyes may be open or closed, and perspiration is common. The child will look confused, upset, or even "possessed" (a description volunteered by many parents). Even if the child does call out her parents' names, she will not recognize them. She will appear to look right through them, unable to see them. Parental attempts to comfort the child by holding or cuddling tend to prolong the situation. Typically a confusional arousal will last for about ten minutes, although it may be as short as one minute, and it is not unusual for the episode to last for a seemingly eternal forty minutes.



During these frightening episodes, the child is not dreaming and typically will have no memory of the event afterwards (unlike a nightmare). If any memory persists, it will be a vague feeling of being chased, or of being trapped. The event itself seems to be a storm of neural emissions in which the child experiences an intense flight or fight sensation. A child usually settles back to quiet sleep without difficulty.



These are very different from nightmares. You won't become aware of your child's nightmares until after she awakens and tells you about them. They are scary dreams that usually occur during the second half of the night, when dreaming is most concentrated. A child may be fearful following a nightmare, but will recognize you and be reassured by your presence. She may have trouble falling back asleep, though, because of her vivid memory of the scary dream.

Kyrie - posted on 12/23/2008

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i have the same trouble with my Carrie on a regular basis and i find just holding her hand,gently stroking seems 2 work most of the time. However sometimes she gets so upset i have 2 wake her but when i do i simply pick her up, rest her head on my shoulder and rock 4 a few moments, this seems 2 do the trick if all else fails. Also, has ur little one recently moved in2 their own room as it could just be a settling in phase.

Good luck anyhow xx

Amanda - posted on 12/23/2008

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I work in Sleep - I am a sleep technologist. Night terrors are a common childhood issue that I am actually dealing with as well (2.5 year old.) It's one of those things you just have to let resolve on its own, or if you choose, you can go in every time and try to soothe.

Stephanie - posted on 12/23/2008

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My 2 year old did the same thing since she was 18 months. well after her 3rd ear infection (had nothing to do with screaming) they sent us to a ENT doctor to have her ears looked at for tube placement. He told me her adnoids were large. He thought that maybe the crying and screaming at night was due to the fact she couldnt breathe at a few points because her adnoids were closing off. They took them out. GUESS WHAT! she doesnt scream anymore. Just a thought

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When it happened with our oldest and now happens with our middle child, and she cries for longer than 10 minutes, one of us (mommy or daddy) goes in and comforts - sometimes holding - occasionallly it seems to have stemmed from a stuffy nose and not being able to breath - for my oldest, we started playing calming music each night at bed time and she still listens to it - and we always pray before laying them back down. there is truly nothing to "take away" bad dreams - we live in a fallen world, but we can comfort them and teach them to rely on God for their comfort as they get older.
I know not everyone believes or has a faith, but I know from personal experience that I would not survive without a personal faith in Jesus Christ.

Candy - posted on 12/23/2008

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hello have u tryed a dream catcher i know this may sound silly but it was suggested to me 15 years ago for my daughter whos now 18 and wont sleep without one i told her it contained good fairys and she had to let them go out the window every morning and they came back at night for her it helped abit good luck and i hope it stops soon

Jennifer - posted on 12/23/2008

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Our dr also told us to wake up our son about thirty min to an hour after going to bed. You dont want to wake her up so much that she cant go back to sleep, just enough to open her eyes and re-adjust. It may take a week or so but it seems to work.

[deleted account]

Our pediatrician told us to wake them about 30-45 minutes after they go to sleep and that somehow interupts the sleep pattern that they have the terrors in??? We tried it and it seemed to help, but later found our daughter has enlarged adenoids which wake her up when she can't breath very well :(

Debby - posted on 12/22/2008

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THanks to everyone for your help, i try to comfort her but everytime i try to touch her she pushes me away. It usually last about half an hour. I fell hopeless that i cant do anything to help. Hopefully she will out grow this.

Dianne - posted on 12/22/2008

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My 4 year old daughter probably would do it 3&4 times a week, i just go in her room and sometimes she is standing beside her bed even, and she would still be asleep then i quickly take her to the toilet without waking her and then she comes good for the night. My husbands brother did the same thing when he was the same age and his mum said its nothing to worry about they will grow out of it eventually,

Paulette - posted on 12/22/2008

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Children absorb so much information during the day. Even things we do not think they are getting. My son was getting night terrors and they have reduced a lot. We monitored what he was watching on tv and hearing on the radio. Now of course as a parent we can't be everywhere but we removed as much violence as possible from his day. We even got rid of Sponge Bob because even though it was milder it shows Sponge Bob getting into trouble with Patrick his friend a lot. What are the consequences for this characters behavior? Granted this is a cartoon but it is an influence on our child. It worked for us quite nicely and his night terrors has reduced by 85%. I am sure with time they will go all together. It is a personal choice for each parent but our choices worked. I hope I have helped. Take care.

Lia - posted on 12/22/2008

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my son had that. he would cry almost everynight for almost a year. i think they just grow out of it. my doc. told me not to wake him.!!!!!! let him work it out. just make sure the cant hurt themself. some of the things that can cause the terrors, is them getting scarred. like if they walk by a car that has a dog in it and it start s to bark at them and it startals them. or if they do not see u and u all of asudden yell at them not to touch somthing. things like that my doc. said can cause the terrors. good luck it will be okay

Carrie - posted on 12/22/2008

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my daughter did the same thing. She went through a short phase of night terrors. Eventrually she outgrew them... we did not wake her up. We were advised not to....

Jessica - posted on 12/22/2008

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nothing you can do to prevent it, but if she wakes up crying, just comfort her and tuck her back in... she should go right back to sleep.

Tracey - posted on 12/22/2008

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My 3 yoa does that sometimes too...i've learned to kind of wait it out, sometimes they pass quickly. If it doesn't, I go in and comfort him by rubbing his back and saying "it's ok, mommy's right here." I don't have to get up that often. It's like a bad dream and just passes --I've asked him before if he remembers crying and he never does.

Lital - posted on 12/22/2008

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We went through this with our son at the same age. It happened only for a period of a few months, but it was truly scary (especially the first time). When he woke up he was confused and upset, but not as hysterical as he was while having the night terror.

We found that he was more prone to having a night terror when he was over-tired.He also dropped his nap around this time, so we made sure to have an early bedtime and a relaxing bedtime routine for an hour beforehand. Though honestly, I think he outgrew this independently from our efforts to prevent his night terrors.

Good luck.

Ta'Ra - posted on 12/22/2008

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Try letting her lie down listening to soft soothing music before she falls off to sleep; also try a soft bulb nightlite...and a favorite toy for comfort. Say your prayers at night together also...and please let us know if you notice any good responses from this...

Julie - posted on 12/22/2008

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My experience was just the opposite from Chrissy, My baby would not stop crying until we woke her up. I guess all kids are different. Once Lee woke up and realied she was OK she would go back to sleep petty quickly. It lasted for about a month or two. We were lucky. Hopefully it won't last long for you either. Good luck and try not to get frustrated.

Chrissy - posted on 12/22/2008

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The one thing I know is NOT to wake them up. My son did that during 3 and 4 years old in the middle of the night. Mostly sobbing and crying, but still sound asleep. We never woke him up, just rubbed his back until he quieted down.

Tara - posted on 12/22/2008

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My daughter sometimes does the same thing..theres no way you can stop them...CAn you stop your own dreams? Just comfort her and reassure her that she is safe in your arms...Thats the only thing you can do.

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