Thursday, 11 August 2016

How we dealt with night terrors


Have you ever heard your child uncontrollably screaming in the middle of the night? You rush to them in a panic to find they look like something similar to a horror movie. They are bolt upright, eyes open, crying, talking and seemingly in a very bizarre trance. You can't console them at all. You try to talk to them but they thrash around and don't even recognise who you are.

I'll fully admit when this first happened with our eldest, we honestly thought she was possessed. We can laugh about it now but I can assure you it was very frightening to witness the first time. These occurred quite a few times between the ages of 2-3.5 but luckily we haven't experienced any recently. We had never heard of night terrors before but we were about to learn a lot about them.

Night terrors are different to nightmares. They usually occur in the first few hours of sleep and your child won't remember anything about them the next day. They can last for quite a few minutes. As mentioned above they may be shouting, thrashing out, sweating or even sleep walking. They may be talking total gibberish. 

We researched why they occur and found that they can be triggered by anything that make your child wake from a deep sleep such as over excitement, lots of daytime activity, anxiety, stress, loud noises and needing to go to the toilet. They can also occur from having a fever, tiredness and certain types of medication. 

We couldn't really understand why she was having them but on closer inspection of our lives we could pinpoint a couple of things that may have set them off. Both hubby and I were working and no day was ever the same for Eva. She never had a proper routine as either I was not there or I was late home from work and vice versa. She was either at nursery or with grandparents. Her routine was basically all over the place.
We also realised this lack of routine may be making her a bit anxious. She would scream every time I went to work and I wondered whether it was because due to the type of work I did, more often than not I was never home before she went to sleep. I think she was worried that I would never return.

We had no idea how to deal with them. At first we were trying to wake her up as we were panicking as much as she was. It was quite upsetting to witness. We later found out that this is one of the worst things you can do. It's advised to leave them alone and just make sure they are safe in their environment. This was such a difficult thing to do as it's quite distressing to witness as a parent. If they are seeking a cuddle then it's ok to give them one but if not it's best to stay clear.

To deal with them we addressed her bedtime routine. She now has dinner and then we have a short time of reading or quiet craft activities such as colouring or sticking  She then has her bath, followed by night time stories in bed. We make sure she has no tv at all after dinner or is involved in any activity that will get her over excited. Timings aren't always perfect but we aim to do everything each day around the same time. 
This change in activity has definitely helped. Don't get me wrong there are days when she is still wild and won't follow her routine but in general the quiet time after dinner is helping her wind down. 

Another thing we now do a lot of is talk to her more about anything that may be bothering her and actually taking it seriously. Whenever she used to talk to us about monsters or not liking the dark etc, i'll be honest and say quite often we would just brush it off. If she ever said I don't want you to go to work or don't leave me we used to find it annoying, rather than taking her anxiety seriously. Having conversations with her every day about her day and anything that is bothering her has also helped to put her mind at ease. Reassuring her has really helped.

You can also try to wake them up about 15 minutes before the night terrors occur. We have never tried this but apparently the terrors normally occur around the same time of night and that if you wake them up over a course of a few days, you may be able to break the cycle.

It's been a long time since we last had a night terror. I'm pretty sure the last one was whilst we were in Australia at the start of the year. I'm so happy with the progress we've made as they were so disturbing to witness. 

Have you ever experienced night terrors? Have you got any tips on how to deal with them?






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34 comments:

  1. This is useful. My daughter had night terrors whenever i go into hospital and then it settles when i return but its a hard thing to deal with. Angela from daysinbed

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  2. This sounds terrible and i would hate to experience this. My son has bad dreams where he shouts out in his sleep that he is scared and i go comfort him, but nothing like
    This. So glad they seem to have stopped now as i can imagine its awful seeing your child in this state.

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  3. My 3 yr old son has a thing about monsters at the moment. We have a dreamcatcher in his room to catch them and a toy crocodile to eat them!

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  4. Oh gosh, they sound awful. None of mine have ever had them - the odd nightmare, but that's it. Fingers crossed you've solved it xx

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  5. i haven't had any experience of this yet but its an interesting read. The fact that it occurs at a similar time is a good thing to watch out for x

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  6. Night terrors must be horrible, knowing there's little you can do other than be there for them x

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  7. I think Santi might be having night terrors at the moment as he wakes up shouting "no no" in the middle of the night and sometimes it's as if he doesn't know we're in the room with him. We need to get back into a proper routine as things have been a bit up in he air after having Ezra x

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  8. Golly, this sounds awful! Thankfully we've avoided them but so glad it's been a while since your last wakening x

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  9. Night terrors are awful seen they. Interesting read x

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  10. Night terrors are awful aren't they. Interesting read x

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  11. It's so disruptive for all the family. Have you tried talking to your little one about what could be the root cause of them?

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  12. Bless her, it must have been awful for both of you. I would be the same and assume that trying to wake them up would be the right thing to do x

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  13. When I was young I would have a recurring dream that would happen only on a certain day every week. In this dream I have to be in bed laying face down while a faceless wrath come into my room to inspect me, anyone who see this wrath will get ill. I have no idea why I had this dream but every one night a year. It happen from a young age and stopped about 11-12. It would puzzled me and I remember asking my parents about it but they didn't know anything about it. Very weird.

    www.annanuttall.com

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  14. Isaac went through a stage of night terrors and it was awful. We found a simple dream catcher seemed to reassure him and they went as quickly as they came

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  15. Oh this sounds awful.. I hope there will be no nightmares.

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  16. M has night terrors. Thankfully they are few and far between now but it's horrible to see him in such a state. Xxx

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  17. Very frightening and distressing for Eva and yourself. So glad you had the sense to research and address the problem with a positive outcome

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  18. They're so hard to deal with aren't they? My eldest used to suffer with them regularly. I think his was linked to stress, which makes me sad but luckily he grew out of them, or at least things got better in our lives which meant they came to an end.

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  19. This sounds so frightening! Thankfully we haven't had any yet. x

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  20. T so far hasn't had them. I used though when I was a child and it was terrifying. Don't really have much tips, but I remember I just sort of out-grew them if that makes sense? Hope your little one outgrows it too. x

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  21. Poor baby! It's lovely that you take it seriously and investigate about it as, like you said, this could be the outcome of another major problems, like anxiety disorders xx
    www.wha2wear.com

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  22. Gosh that sounds very distressing, I'm glad they seem to have passed.

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  23. Waking them up 15 minutes before the terror is a great idea. It is so sad when you see them get scared x

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  24. My daughter used to have them as a toddler. They happened around the same time every night, and we worked out this was just after we got ready for bed ourselves. We think it was enough noise to disturb her, but not enough to wake her. She would scream and yell, telling something, "No"and "Go away"and a lot of gibberish, while thrashing around the bed. The worst part was, you couldn't comfort her, as any attempt to hold or touch her would make it so much worse. All we could do was gently talk to her until she settled down, her eyes were open, but she wasn't awake, then she would settle and go back to sleep. She never remembered any of it.

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  25. Night terrors are just the absolute worse, my nephew suffers with them really really badly and he doesn't ever want to talk about them, he just wake screaming x

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  26. They are awful aren't they.
    Glad to hear your little one is no longer having them x

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  27. OMG they sounds awful! I really hope my little one does not go through these. It would scare me let alone him.I suppose its a good thing tat they don't always remember it, must be so horrible to see

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  28. Night terrors are terrible my friend's son was experiencing one and I happen to be there, poor child was crying and shaking what was dreaming must have been terrifying. I will share your tips with my friend as her son still gets them even though he is 4 now.

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  29. It's an interesting technique waking them up before anything occurs. I don't have children but know that it's horrible having nightmares.

    Alina | The Fairytale Pretty Picture

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  30. I really hope we never experience these as they sound awful for both child and parent. I can see why the changes you have made have worked, I really hope she doesn't have any more

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  31. As of yet, I have never seen anyone (child or adult) have night terrors but I hope it is something I never have to experience. I hope Eva's night terrors stop.

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  32. My friends little boy used to have night terrors and it took him years to get over them, my friend was so drained. It totally exhausted her. x

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  33. They are so horrible. My eldest went through a stage of having them but I m so glad he doesn't any more x

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  34. Oh bless you lovely. Thats sounds very upsetting. Hope you get some tips here to help xxx

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