The Circle of Moms site will be discontinued on March 1st, 2020. Head to POPSUGAR Family's Facebook page for more community discussions.

Let's Go >>

night terrors

Lucy - posted on 08/08/2009 ( 9 moms have responded )

591

33

23

Hi all! Just wondered if anyone has any advice about how to stop my 3 year old having night terrors. She really loves her sleep and goes to bed at 6.30, waking at around 7.30 in the morning. Most of the time she sleeps very soundly right through, but maybe a couple of times a week she starts screaming at about 8.30/9ish. when I go to calm her she is clearly not awake and sometimes won't even realise i am there or who I am. It can be awful, she is really distressed at these times and it can take 10 minutes or so to get her to come out of it, but when she does she conks right back out to sleep and we hear no more from her! My daughter has an incredible imagination, lots of imaginary friends and enjoys creative imaginary play. She even makes up wacky stories to tell her younger brother! I guess this imagination is what causes the terrors, but I don't want to curb her creative mind. Any suggestions?

MOST HELPFUL POSTS

Angela - posted on 08/10/2009

44

1

4

My daughter has night terrors as well. They run in our family and most of my neices and nephews have them, my brothers and I had them, and even my father had them (although in my fathers times they had no clue what was happening to the child) .... My family has done quite a bit of research on this subject, and I can tell you what works for my child and the other children I know.... First off the night terrors generally happen when the child has played really hard that day and is more tired than usual. Also, a night terror is when the child reaches the edge of REM sleep, does not enter REM sleep, something causes them to stir and their body wakes up but their subconsious remains asleep. I know that many children who have night terrors begin experiencing them just after being fully potty trained. Many times their bladder tells their brain they need to potty, it causes them to only wake up slightly, but again their subconsious remains asleep. It can be quite scarry for a parent when their own child does not recognize them and is unconsolable.



First try to prevent them... you may be laughing but here is what I do... my daughter has her terrors about an hour and a half after she falls asleep... so an hour after she falls asleep, I go into her room and wake her up (not completely but almost), then I tell her to go back to sleep. Apparently this breaks the cycle in the brain. It does work, and she has not had a night terror since I have been doing this. It was my brother who suggested it to me (his daughter has severe night terrors), and she does not have them on the nights they wake her up an hour after she falls asleep.



If you were not able to prevent one (missed the one hour window) and your daughter wakes up in a night terror then... if she does not recognize you, then do not pick her up or try to hug her... it will frighten her more, because at the moment she doesnt know who you are and she already feels fear. Instead sit next to her bed and talk to her in a soft calm voice and reasure her that everything is okay, and that she should just go back to sleep. If she does recognize you, then have her go potty, I am not sure what it is (change is surroundings or something in the brain). I have even had to just pick my daughter up take her in the bathroom, pull her pants down, sit her on the potty and wait for her to pee.



What I have learned scientifically about night terrors is that usually the child is not actually dreaming yet, since they only got to the edge of REM sleep and didnt enter it. Basically it is a nightmare with no visuals, but an overwhelming sense of fear. Most children grow out of it completely, some grow out of the terrors but begin sleep walking, and a few never grow out of it.



I hope this helps, I know it is what works for the several children I know who suffer from night terrors, so please at least give it a try. Again, the most affective method is to wake them up about an hour after they fall asleep.

9 Comments

View replies by

Julie - posted on 08/12/2009

1

0

0

My son is 11 and still has them but fortunately not as bad and much less frequently he is healthy happy.clever amd they appear to bother us more than him so I guess its some thing eventually thats stops ?

Lisa - posted on 08/12/2009

4

3

0

Lucy:  My Doctor of Oriental Medicine (acupuncturist) gave my 5 year old an herbal formula called Cinnamon D by Golden Flower Chinese Herbs.  It was like night and day!  She chews it up.  She takes it twice a day because she also exhibits anxiety during the day.  You should look into it.  It is inexpensive (I paid $15 for a month's supply) and natural.  PLEASE do not "blame" her "night terrors" on her creative imagination!   That imagination will be her saving grace as she gets older.  Nurture it!  But redirect to positive images and themes.  There is a new thought movement (and old biblical idea) which indicates that we reap what we sow.  If we plant the seeds of negative things in our garden, they grow just like the good things do.  It is an idea that my daugher understood early on and with little explanation.  It helped her make the choice to stop pretending things that were not nurturing and helpful or healing.  Yes, there may dramatic things or even death or sickness sometimes in her pretending (as in life)...but she always turns it around and it is a beautiful thing not a dark negative thing.  Good luck.

 

Annetta - posted on 08/11/2009

16

7

1

As a counselor at a summer camp who had a camper who had night terrors, I would like to make a suggestion as well. I had a special prayer with my special camper every night just before bed time. If she fell asleep before I got to her bunk, she would have a terror, but every time we prayed, her mind would relax better and she would sleep restfully all night.

Sarah - posted on 08/11/2009

44

26

13

Wow, Angela, thank you! I did not even write the original post and this is way helpful to me thank you.

Lucy - posted on 08/11/2009

591

33

23

Angela, thank you so much for this practical suggestion, I will definitely try it tommorrow night!

Lucy - posted on 08/10/2009

591

33

23

Thanks for the advice, ladies, especially Sarah as you really have my daughter pegged! It's nice that you made some postive suggestions about what to do WITH her imagination instead of working against it.

Felixnkayla - posted on 08/09/2009

2

0

0

When your daughter is having night terrors, you won't be able to do anything to make them go away as you have all ready found out... You can limit her television watching and do more reading with her and that will slowly start to change her way of thinking of imaginary friends...

Sarah - posted on 08/08/2009

44

26

13

She will get ahold of it when she gets older. I have delt with night terrors through out my entire life. I am 24. It is her imagination I would imagine lol. It was mine. Do pay attention to her when she tells you things about different things that may scare her. Also keep in mind that because she has such a creative imagination, be cautious of what she watches. I had very minimal fear until I was about 10 when I watched an x-files episode with my uncle about wearwolfs. X-files is very realistic to a child and so I faught that one off until I was 23. Though it is not logical to believe in such creatures, when those of us whith over active imaginations get tired watch out, it can be nearly impossible for us to sepperate the real from the fake. Good luck and because we can overly imagine the bad we can embrace the good like no other, keep happy cartoons, movies, music and books especially (she'll probably be quite the reader, she'll probably like to imagine her own people and characters as apposed to some one elses). Also keep your eyes open for her artful talents (i.e. her fabulous story telling, I started writing at a VERY young age) Painting, writing, dancing, drawing, will very possibly be her strong points.

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