Night Terrors: What are they and what can I do?

How to Cope with Night Terrors - Holistic Squid If you’ve ever tried to console a child having night terrors, you know that it is no laughing matter.

Though they can seem like very traumatic experiences for the child and can be a big source of concern for parents, understanding what night terrors are (and aren’t) will help the whole family cope with this common condition.

Night terrors usually last from 5 to 20 minutes, and the child may sit up in bed, shout, scream, sweat and thrash as if out of fear.  Her heartbeat may race and breathing might be faster.

After a while, she usually calms down and goes back to sleep.  If a child does wake after or during a night terror, she may seem inconsolable.  Since night terrors don’t involve dreams, the child won’t usually remember any scary images or understand what’s frightening or upsetting them.

Why do night terrors happen?

Although night terrors can be terrifying and confusing for parents, they’re usually nothing major to worry about; Night terrors are typically non-pathological occurrences for children.  They don’t usually indicate an underlying medical condition or mental disorder, and they’re typically nothing more than a disturbance in the sleep cycle.

Although there’s no underlying disease associated with night terrors, medications, stress, fatigue, and even teething are triggers parents may be able to identify.

Parents may mistake night terrors for a bad nightmare experience, but they are actually two different things.  Nightmares occur during the specific stage of sleep known as REM, the part of the sleep cycle where dreams occur.  Night terrors occur during the very deep, non-REM sleep stage.

There’s typically no dream at all involved in night terrors.  Sleep experts believe night terrors are actually a fear reaction that happens as children move from one sleep phase into another.

Some children sleep through night terrors without waking at all, even if their eyes are open. Unless they’re made aware of it, many children never know they’re experiencing night terrors.

What can I do for my child’s night terrors?

There isn’t a lot parents can do during to curtail night terror episode once it’s underway. Speaking calmly to your child from a slight distance may help.  If you try to comfort a child experiencing a night terror physically, you could make the situation worse by suddenly awakening and frightening her.

Keeping your child on a regular sleep schedule may help reduce the occurrence of night terrors.

My personal favorite solution for night terrors is a flower essence blend like this one. Flower essences work much in the same way as homeopathy. They are an energetic medicine, and as such, can influence healing, but they do not do harm in the body.

I use this remedy before bed, when frequent waking has been occurring – or even during a night terror, once my kid is calm enough to take the supplement with ease.

Has your child experienced these sleep disruptions?
What are your top tips for dealing with night terrors?

Like What You've Read?
Subscribe to Holistic Squid by email and never miss a post!

Disclaimer and Affiliate Endorsement Information

Related posts that may interest you

 

Comments

  1. Andrea says

    Both my daughters have night terrors. My older child has the laughing hysterically while thrashing around terror, the younger cries in horrible fear for about 20 minutes. We have them both on a regular sleep schedule and it helped tremendously!!

  2. Marisa says

    I had them, my sisters had them, and now my daughter has them. But it’s obvious that fatigue makes them worse. We try to stick to a regular bedtime. And when that still didn’t work, we were prescribed Lime Tree by our Chinese Medicine Doctor. That definitely seems to help when they pick up in regularity. It’s scary, but nice to know it’s not a big deal, and that the dreams aren’t the cause.

  3. Donika says

    My daughter had horrible night terrors from the time she was about 16 months old until she was 5. If I got to her right after the first scream, she would settle down and fall back to sleep within a half an hour, but if I didn’t get to her quickly, she would scream for HOURS. I’m talking 3 or 4 hours, poor little thing! As she got older, she continued to have sleep problems, nightmares, frequent waking, restless legs, etc, and now she is in her early 20’s and has told me that the night-terrors have returned. She doesn’t scream anymore, but wakes up, STANDING UP, covered in a cold sweat, and her heart is racing.

  4. Crystal says

    My little sister had night terrors that would last for hours sometimes. Every time that she would get back to sleep, they would start all over again. We found out that it was all due to allergies. She is allergic to nitrates. So if we had hotdogs for dinner, it would be a bad night. This article frustrates me because it was a very serious allergy that caused the problem and it was a very big deal. She remembers part of them. She says that we became part of the nightmare. She has allergies so bad now (MCS) that she is a prisoner in her own home. She can’t even read a newspaper because she’s allergic to the ink. I would do ALOT more research before I dismissed night terrors as ‘no big deal’.

    • Mary says

      Oh, Crystal, that’s just awful! She sounds like my friend Caroline Lunger who is the blogger at MyGutsy.com. She got dubbed the Bubble Girl. :(

    • says

      Hi Crystal, thanks for sharing your sister’s experience. In most cases night terrors are not a sign of an underlying health condition, but it is certainly worth noting that they may be part of a bigger imbalance.

  5. Christine says

    My daughter had night terrors with the potty training. We both were stressed and I didn’t know what I was doing. She was diagnosed with ADD recently and with kids like that you can’t give the goldfish crackers as a reward there body doesn’t like it. She tantrumed a lot and I thought I needed to be firm and disciple her, but nothing helped til I stopped the orange colored crackers and reduced the sugar. She even had a seizure. My neighbors still say why can’t you control your daughter. I just laugh, control. God has everything in His hands!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *