Diaries Magazine

Tips to Help with Night Terrors

Posted on the 07 August 2019 by Suzanne Robinson @mummy2twinsblog

Night terrors are horrible.

In fact, they are just a pain in the bum. There is screaming, more screaming and the noise just gets so loud!

Not only is there a lot of yelling and screaming from the child who is having the night terror but there is also hitting, kicking and trying to do things that might hurt the terrorised child.

My little boy has suffered from night terrors and they seem to happen every now and then. However, for the past week (starting from mid-week last week and to this week) he has had a few nearly every night.

He was not well and did have a fever for a few days so I put it down to the fact that he wasn't well. I have even picked him up earlier from childcare to help with the lead up to bedtime and allow for quiet time. This plan didn't work and therefore I was up again all night dealing with an upset kid.

I've had "NO" Screamed at me so loud I think that I have lost part of my hearing.

So what is a night terror?

A night terror is when a child wakes violently after a few hours of going to bed and is still asleep although appears to be awake.

Night terrors usually happen to preschool and primary school kids, and in time they grow out of it.

It is hard to calm the child when they are having a night terror due to the fact that they don't know you are there and are dealing with something upsetting.

Night terrors are not nightmares. "Night terrors are part of a group of Non-REM sleep arousal disorders or parasomnias. Your child may remember being frightened, but without specific dream content and will not usually remember the night terror the next morning." (https://www.schn.health.nsw.gov.au/fact-sheets/nightmares-and-night-terrors)

What are the signs of a night terror?

  • Seems awake but is still asleep, don't try and wake the child. If you do the night terror will last longer.
  • Wakes screaming
  • Thrashes around, hits, kicks and tries to hurt you if you are there.
  • Throws things
  • Tries to hurt themselves
  • Yelling things that make no sense. My little boy just yells, NO!, and sometimes other things about what he doesn't want to do or wants to do.
  • Sometimes the child having the terror has their eyes open but is not awake.
  • Sweaty and breathes heavy

One thing that was screamed at me while Alexander was having a terror was, "I WANT A T-REX!" I then said, of course, we can get you a T-Rex, and then he took a deep breath and rolled over and went back to sleep.

I must say that I am glad that he has no memory of me agreeing to get him a T-Rex. Honestly, we don't have room for a T-Rex and currently struggle with the items we wish to keep.

Things I have noticed that might mean a night terror could occur:

What can you do while your child is having a night terror?

Since your child will be not asleep or awake they will not understand you are there and could lash out. Stay in the room and make that your little one will not hurt themselves, for example falling out of bed, hitting their head on the corner or end of the bed or possibly tip items onto themselves.

If your child is talking try and talk to them, however, if they become more agitated and scream more loudly when you talk (this happens with my little boy) just sit and be quiet and say some calming things every now and then.

What I say to my child while he is screaming and having a night terror: It's okay you are safe, you are in bed and all right, Mummy is here, calm down, it's okay.

Once he calms down and the screaming, kicking, and hitting subsides I try and let him know I am there and sometimes he wakes up and other times he rolls over and goes back to bed.

If he does wake he gets some soothing cuddles with mummy and a drink and then goes back to bed.

Oh and if your little one is overheated that could bring on a terror too!

Make sure to not touch your child as this can agitate them and make the terror worse and last longer. If the child is going to hurt themselves or you need to move them this is fine as it is an emergency but might cause the child to freak out a bit. Once calmer you can touch and reassure the child.

Things I am doing to trying to calm down before bedtime

  • Quiet time
  • Bath to relax my little boy
  • Time in his room reading books and just relaxing before he goes to bed
  • Cuddles
  • Stopping his TV shows and making sure we have some playtime with his LEGO or cars.

Sites that can help if your child is having night terrors too:

Do your kids have night terrors or if they are older did they suffer them too? Have they outgrown them? They are common in preschool and primary aged children but after primary many outgrow night terrors.

I hope my little boy outgrows them soon as they are exhausting for both mummy and my little boy.

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