Night Terrors?

Jennifer - posted on 04/04/2011 ( 31 moms have responded )

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im just wondering if any one elses kids ever get night terrors, and if and when they grew out of it, my 7 1/2 month old gets them almost every night sometimes a few times a night, and i just want to know wat causes them and how can i help them go away

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Renae - posted on 04/05/2011

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Can you describe the behaviour and what makes you think it is night terrors? Night terrors is usually not seen in infants.

Ok I just read your second post and night terrors cannot occur 15 times in a few hours. Night terrors occur in the deepest of sleep (which is why infants dont have them, they dont reach the deepest sleep that toddlers and adults do) and he is not reaching very deep sleep that quickly.

During a night terror, the child or person is not awake, their eyes are usually open, they sometimes sit up or throw their limbs about and they usually scream; they cannot be woken up and when someone tries to talk to them or touch them they become part of the terror. A night terror has nothing to do with nightmares which are dreams, the person is not dreaming immediately prior to or during the terror. The person does not remember the episode later and will not be able to tell you what was wrong. Night terrors cause no long term damage and are far harder on the parents (who remember it and fear it) than on the child.

Also just wanting to add to what Amber said, terrors commonly occur both a few hours after going to sleep and in the early hours of the morning usually between 2 and 4am, as these are both times when we are leaving very deep sleep.

The only treatment for night terrors is to rouse the person around 20 minutes before the terror normally occurs to restart their sleep cycle and avoid the point at which the terror occurs. Other avoidance techniques include minimising stress, not getting overtired and keeping to a routine. Most toddlers grow out of night terrors by late childhood. When it starts during childhood or adolescence it may continue into adulthood.

I do not think your baby is having night terrors. I think that your baby is either becoming overtired during the day or is about to reach a major physical milestone or a combination of both. At your baby's age he should be having 3 naps per day, the first usually 45 to 60 minutes after first getting up in the morning. Missing this early nap is a major cause of overtiredness and poor napping for the rest of the day. The other naps are mid-late morning and mid-afternoon. He should be awake in between naps for no more than 3 hours. If he is learning to sit or crawl the sudden waking may stop once he masters this new skill. In this case the waking will be occuring during active sleep (light sleep or REM "dreaming" sleep). However, your comment about 15 times in a few hours really sticks with me and it tells me that the baby is unable to move from light to deep sleep because his brain is overstimulated from overtiredness.

Blackwood - posted on 04/06/2011

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I actually had nite terrors myself as a child and so did my husband, but they didn't start till later about 3years of age and we both were very different in the way we reacted. I would slowly walk around the house with eyes wide open, drink water ect. . . I would respond to anyone and I remember one time my dad picked my up and I freaked, he was so worried and didn't know what to do he took my the ER and from there I was send later on to have test done. Nothing out of the ordinary was found and my folks were told I would eventually grow out of them and I did. For my husband he would run around the house like a mad man, he too grew out of them. My son waked up wailing and moving around like crazy. From what I understand you just have to let them go through it, it's so hard to see them like that. I also understand that it's actually pretty common. If you are really worried speak with your doc. But I've heard never to wake them up or startle them. You can speak softly and make sure they are in a safe place. Best of luck.

Sunshine - posted on 04/04/2011

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Something to add :

What Causes Night Terrors?
Night terrors in children are the most common and yet we are not immune to this condition as adults. Sleep research has identified some specific causes of sleep terrors, including:

Physical or emotional stress
Medications (including sedatives)
Sleep deprivation
Stimulants before bed
Jet lag or time zone changes
Drug abuse
Mental instability

I am trying to help you ladies out as much as I can..

Anne - posted on 04/07/2011

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Awww. I feel for you all. My husband used to get so angry that our children had night terrors and always felt there was some way to snap them out of it. Best advice... remember that night terror are worse for you than they are for the kids. They don't remember a thing!
Both of our boys have had night terrors from a very young age. (one more than the other) They are now 7 and 8 and still occasionally have them. I recognize their triggers tend to be mostly when they are ill (or something is coming on) or when they are stressed (like beginning of school).
Hold them tight, if they allow it. Try to get them to look you in the eye. If that doesn't work, just keep them safe.
-Anne

Blackwood - posted on 04/06/2011

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Megan. I remember walking around the house very slowly and always asking for a drink of water that I would sip for about half an hour after the night terror winded down. I agree sometime you do remember and as I got older I would have a "feeling" that I would end up having a nite terror that nite. It was something I could eventually regonize that might happen ahead of time. I think that the research is still very limited on this subject and what maybe ones finding could be different from another. When I was tested on this issue. I was about 5 years old and my parents had to try to keep my a wake for the nite so that when I went to the childrens hospital the hope was I would sleep and they could monitor me. That didn't happen there was no way I was sleeping. They did some test, brain waves ect. . . and concluded it was night terrors. And mine didn't start till I was about 3years as well. My son is 21 months and I do believe he may get them onces in awhile. I've learned that he can't be woken or moved around alot, he just gets more upset. It's so heart breakin to watch and know you can't do much about it.

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Tyrae - posted on 04/07/2011

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I had them when I was younger and the last time I had one I was 12 years old. After 12 or 13 if they still get them I know that you are supposed to take them to the doctors for it because it's supposed to go away. It has something to do with the brain maturing and once it's become fully mature they aren't supposed to happen. That being said, dont wake your kids up during them, they can't remember what they are once they wake up but if you get woken up during them (like I was) you'll vividly remember what you were dreaming about. For instance, part of mine was being stuck in a huge spiders web getting eaten by giant spiders, I can't handle seeing a spider anymore, I will literally freak out and run if I see one. It does more harm than good to wake them up.

Kylie - posted on 04/07/2011

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My brother had them and the only way my parents could wake him up was to take him to the toilet so he could go! But he was about 2 years old - so sorry that's no help for you! What about having a CD player in your baby's room and putting on some soothing music to help them come out of it?

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My daughter got them from a few mths to over a year.Sometimes everynight for 7days of the week.

I could not hold her to soothe her as it made the night terror worse.It was so upsetting to see, she would come out of it and go back to sleep.She would no memory of them at all.I was so happy to see, how fast the started the stopped just as fast.Thank god.



I don't know why they get them but i hate them.She was very bad.Just have to let them play themsleves out.



I found you do not wake them, Or touch the child.The turn crazy if you try to soothe them.My babygirl did anyway.I remember some nights having to leave the room.It was to much for me to see her like that.Her dad would stay with her.She slept in our room.

Blackwood - posted on 04/06/2011

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Jennifer: I found a machine by conair in the spa area of stores. I found mine at Zellers and it had while noise, heartbeat, nature sounds, thunderstorm. I think 8 in total witha LED light if you want to use it. It has 3 different time. You could also use a small table fan that makes white noise. I also found a music and relection toy the makers of Glow Warm and it goes for 20 mins. It has 2 different sounds of music and reflects an image on the ceiling. I can't remember how much the Spa machine was (I think it was about $40.00) and the Glow Worm machine was $29.99. You could also try an air filter machine they make white noise and clean the air as well. Canadian tire, walmart all those store usually carry them. I can't think of what causes my son's nite terrors maybe his mind just goes a mile a minute. He plays with friends half the day, spends morning with me. My husband and I seriously don't fit and he is a very happy child. I think sometimes it's just something they go through.

Michelle - posted on 04/06/2011

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with night terrors first off you are not supposed to wake the child up, for my son who had them until he was about 4 I would sit by his bed and gently rub his back and sing to him eventually he would calm and go back to sleep. I never knew what caused the issue, and he never remembered having them in the morning. It is nerve racking but the best thing is to talk to them calmly so that they can eventually relax knowing mommy or daddy is right there to protect them. However 7 1/2 months is quite young for night terrors I would look at other possibilities like teething as we went through what seemed like my sons night terrors with my daughter except she was teething.

Megan - posted on 04/05/2011

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First, as someone who has suffered night terrors basically my entire life...since my earliest recollection of one would be somewhere around 3yrs old, I would like to address the comment that said the person with the terrors does not recall them or know what they were about. This is not true in all cases. My regular run of the mill dreams and nightmares I can remember next to none of...but not so when I have a night terror.

As for all of you frustrated fellow mommies out there trying to get some shut-eye..In the case that your little might be having if not night terrors, but maybe even just nightmares, ever since I was a little kid I have found that if I wanted to have a peaceful night's sleep after waking up from a "nightmare" I first had to spare a half hour or so of it to stay awake after the nightmare. If not, I would continue the nightmare as soon as I fell back asleep. So, try keeping your little one awake and alert for a bit to get their mind off of it. Also, have you considered the possibility that your little one could be having "growing pains"? That maybe painful cramps in his legs are causing him to wake periodically throughout the night? Not night terrors? Possibly a quick 5-10min foot and leg massage to ease the pain would calm him down and get him back to sleep.

Stephanie - posted on 04/05/2011

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my daughter went through a stage like this, I called my daughters drs office and they told me I needed to talk to her dr so I set up an appointment. He dr told me it more than likely wasnt night terrors because she was too young for it to be that, Night terrors usually strike around 3-4 years old. But if he does it a a certain time try waking him up about 15 minutes before the usual time. It usually happens in a certain stage of sleep and if you interrupt their sleep then it will take time before that stage comes back around. My daughter was 17 months old when I though she had them and was told she was too young. hope this helps! good luck!

Jennifer - posted on 04/05/2011

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ya i have had to set up a small tv in his room several nights just to get a good nights sleep,
as to the large comment, lol, by renae, im not too sure wat its about i just wished i could help sleep better, the 15 times part only happened once or twice, he did only have one last night, but he does open his eyes, and throw his arms around alot, but he is trying to learn how to sit atm, so maybe thats wat is causeing it, also his first tooth is finally trying to pierce through his gums, i noticed that yesterday morning, that could also be it, thanks ladies =D

Sunshine - posted on 04/05/2011

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Maybe you could try turning the radio on nursery music etc? My son actually sleeps with the Radio on all night. He has since he was born we actually had a CD made for him that sung his name in it that was the only way I could get him to sleep through the night.

Amber - posted on 04/04/2011

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This information is coming from my child psych class and book:

If these are happening within a few hours of a child going to sleep, it is an indication of being a night terror. During night terrors a child does not fully wake up. So, if you're child is awake and alert, these might not be night terrors.

Night terrors are also more frightening for parents than for child because the child will almost never have any recollection of the event at all. Most children with night terrors immediately fall back into a deep sleep though, which is also not a the norm for you.

They are thought to happen because the child (or adult too) transitions from a stage of very deep sleep to a light sleep. If children are physically exhausted or under stress it is more likely to happen to them.

There is also some research that shows mothers who are not confident in their abilities have children who seem to have more nightmares than those with confident moms, but it is unclear if that transitions to night terrors as well.


That is all factual, researched information from a child psychology text book.

The best advice that I could give as a mother would be to try to have a calm, soothing night time routine. Maybe try some lavender scents and a baby massage, or just extra cuddling before sleep. The more time you take to help them physically and mentally wind down, the more peaceful they should sleep.

If the problem persists, you really should seek the help of a professional. The frequency of the problem and the differences from true night terrors might mean that this is something serious that a professional needs to look over.

Jennifer - posted on 04/04/2011

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thanks sushine, although my hubby and i hardly ever fight, and when we do i always make sure my son is in his bed upstairs so he cant hear wats going on, but i do know that he watchs tv at bed time, a lot actaully its the only thing i found that would get him to sleep, i cant seem to find a white noise machine anywhere, i live in ontario btw, and i use the tv set to treeehouse to help him stay asleep, i found if there background noise he sleeeps all night, but if i turn it off, he wakes up with in half an hours, which means i have to start all over again, lol

Sunshine - posted on 04/04/2011

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From experience the arguing can be a life term deal that effects them.. Before my husband deployed this past October we fought really bad yelled pushed, whatever. Now when I try to rough house with my lil brother he gets scared so I have to reassure him.. Stuff like this can cause Night Terrors. Since my husband deployed he has had a stress free life, no arguing or yelling etc. So be the arguing, you can try not to do in front of him, I regret doing that in front of him, that is something little ones don't deserve to witness..

I hope those links work for you ladies.. I know it can be hard..

Emily - posted on 04/04/2011

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Sunshine,
This is all very helpful because alot of it is true my son does watch tv before bed (i.e stimulant) my husband and I argue alot (i.e Emotional stress) and I have a very stressful job and usually have a lot of stress when I get home so I get irratated easily.

Emily - posted on 04/04/2011

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Thank you Sunshine that seems like it would be very helpful but, all I can do is try and see if it will help my son so we will see what happens.

Emily - posted on 04/04/2011

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Sunshine,
I have tried that and it just seems to upset him more when I rock him and try to put him back to bed.

Sunshine - posted on 04/04/2011

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Oh No poor Baby.. Have you tried picking him up & rocking him in a chair or something.. My son has had a couple but I was able to calm him down & put him back to bed. You can't really make them stop its like with us having nightmares :( They suck, I know.. I will help you look around :)

Emily - posted on 04/04/2011

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well when my son has them when he is sleeping and you pick him up to confort him he flexes where he almost falls out of your arms like he doesn't want to be held and then screams, we try to wake him and he will not wake up and will just get louder and louder. makes me want to cry because I don't know how to help him.

Jennifer - posted on 04/04/2011

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well the only thing i know (thanks to google) is that night terrors are soppossed to be when they wake up screaming and cant be consoled, it only makes them scream more, and my son just had one again like not even ten mintues ago, and i just want to know how to make them stop, some nights he gets them up too 15 times in a few hours, which makes sleeping near imposible

Sunshine - posted on 04/04/2011

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My son is 16 Months old he has had them a couple times but not many. Sometimes nothing causes them but then if he sees things he shouldn't like someone scare him & make him jump or you fight or argue in front of him then that may cause it.. Just make sure you reassure him that he is fine & you are right there.. :)

Emily - posted on 04/04/2011

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Well I want to know the same question because I am pretty sure my son gets them too but, the pediatrician said that he is too young for night terrors he is 13 months

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