Monday, May 16, 2011

Night Terrors

If your child has never had a night terror, consider yourself lucky. They're awful. I'm going to sound a little like a medical guest on Oprah or something, but here's a mini infomercial about night terrors.

Carrie has had probably around 10 night terrors since she was about 6 months old. The first time it happened we had no idea what was wrong. It was scary. She woke up screaming, we tried her binky, bouncing her, swaying with her, feed her, turning on the lights to get her to wake up and "snap out of it", but nothing worked. She screamed like crazy with her eyes half open for about half an hour and then went back to sleep like nothing was ever wrong. Once we mentioned it to my mom, she told us that I often had night terrors as a toddler and it's thought to be slightly genetic. So we googled it....

About 5-10% of young children have this "disorder". It's different from nightmares (plain old bad dreams). It's more common in kids age 2-6, but can happen at any age. It usually happens about 2 hours after they go to sleep, during a specific part of the sleep cycle, but not during dreaming time. It can last for only a few minutes, or up to half an hour. Some symptoms are:

-Blood curdling screaming
-May seem awake, but is confused and unfocused
-Breathing fast
-Rapid heart rate

One big cause of night terrors is sleep deprivation. We've noticed that almost all the times Carrie's had them it's been a day where she didn't nap well, if at all. In our google search we also learned how to deal with them the best. First of all is do NOT try to wake the child up. Because they're unaware, if they finally do wake up and find themselves fearful and screaming, it's going to be ten times worse. They won't remember these episodes in the morning. Most doctors recommend holding the child loosely, making sure they're safe and humming or singing quietly until the child calms down and falls back asleep.

It feels awkward not to be able to fix it right away. During a nightmare (which usually happens after a longer period of sleep, in the early morning hours) a child can usually be easily awakened and consoled. Not so with a night terror.

Since Carrie has been napping so horribly the last week or two, I shouldn't have been surprised when she had TWO separate night terrors last night.... It's no fun, but at least it's better when I know what's going on. I can't wait until she grows out of them...


AN Petersen said...

Oh i hate night terrors. They are the worst. I feel your pain. My little one has only had one, but my sisters little boy used to get them all the time. Its not fun feeling useless to your baby. Thanks for the advice on them though, i never knew any of that.

Love Bug Bows said...

They are SO SO bad! What our doctor said to do with Elliana is (if this is happened 2 nights in a row), wake them about 10 minutes before the night terror would occur, talk to them, and reassure them that Mommy/Daddy are there. Do this for 3 nights, and it should stop on it's own. Also, take them outside. Elliana would wake right up, and be fine after that. Good luck, they're awful!

The Chipmans said...

Emma gets them also. It worked for us to wake her up like your other friend suggested. Another strange thing about them is sometimes it is caused by a full bladder. We have been able to help her calm down a few different times by having her go to the bathroom.

Alli @ Cupcake Diaries said...

Laura Cook sent me over to your blog to read this post! My two-year-old Brycen is having night terrors and I recently did a Facebook status asking for advice on what to do. Laura sent me to your blog and I'm glad she did! Thanks for the advice, we'll be ready to try these tips tonight if necessary. And I hope things are going better with your little one!