Night terrors can start in babies and can last all through the preschool years. My little guy began having night terrors at around twenty months and they continued up until he was about three and a half. It has been six months and he has not had an episode since....
|Anthony 18 months, At first he slept in our bed ( didn't help) until we figured out he was having night terrors....|
What is a night terror? They say that when a child moves into REM sleep they will sometimes experience a night terror. The child will begin to kick, scream, cry. They often will be sitting up and have their eyes open. The first time I found Anthony like this I thought he was awake and was really traumatised by the experience when I discovered he wasn't. His first episode lasted about 45 minutes and nothing I was doing was helping. Eventually he just lay back down and fell asleep soundly. The oddest thing was that he didn't remember a thing in the morning.
They say that it can be due to genetics and if you or your husband member experience things like sleep walk, sleep talking, grinding teeth or body rocking - this can be a reason why your child is experiencing night terrors as it is from the same family of sleep issues. My husband used to sleep walk as a child and our oldest child does talk in his sleep. Slowly the pieces to the puzzle came together for us. Anthony was grinding his teeth a lot and often spoke in his sleep. When we discussed these and more with our doctor he confirmed that Anthony was having night terrors. He also said that the only person losing sleep over it was me! Apparently your child is still fully asleep during the episodes. He recommended we find a way to manage it and gave us some tips...
Most of the time children will outgrow the night terrors...and I feel like we have already turned that corner. However for those of you still dealing with these, or maybe you can relate to our story, here are some tips
Night Terrors 101
- Do not pick up your child or hold your child. It may be hard to do but best thing is not to touch or hold them as this can make the episode worse. Stay in the room and ensure your child does not hurt themselves. This may be hard but the night terror will end usually 20-40 minutes after they begin.
- Night terrors often occur around the same time at night. If they are happening every night then about 20 minutes before they would normally begin wake your child. Wake them fully, give them a something to sip on or get him out of bed. They say if you do this for 10-15 days it can break the night terror cycle.
- If your child can hurt themselves best thing to do is to sit by them, rub their back and repeat a couple times that you are there and everything is ok. (this also made me feel better)
- If you are worried your child will wake everyone in the house....there is really nothing you can do about this. We made sure Anthony had a good night light and we closed his door once he was sleeping. This way he didn't wake any of his siblings.