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Night Terrors - Zer Netmouse
February 3rd, 2014
04:10 pm

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Night Terrors
A BabyCenter article reads,
When your child cries in fright during the night, don't assume it's a scary dream. There's another kind of event that can wake preschoolers called night terrors.

Night terrors occur when a child moves from deep sleep to a lighter sleep, usually between 10 p.m. and midnight. Your child may sit up in bed and scream or fling himself around, sweating and breathing hard. Even though his eyes are open, he won't be awake or responsive to you. In fact, it's often difficult to wake someone in the middle of night terrors, so don't try. Just stay with him to make sure he's safe. He won't even remember the episode the next day. (In comparison, nightmares happen in a stage of light sleep later on, often in the early morning. Children may cry or call for help. They may run into your room, sharing details of the horrible monster that was chasing them. Or they may not be sure what upset them. With a little comforting, they'll usually relax.)

Night terrors run in families, and children who are overtired or agitated are more susceptible. Most outgrow the episodes in the early elementary years.


Rosie seems to be having these lately. Frequently just as I'm getting ready to go to bed she'll start thrashing around. Sometimes she kicks the wall. Sitting with her and shushing her or rubbing her back sometimes seems to help. Sometimes I'll just go sit or (if I'm really tired) lie down with her to make sure she doesn't fall off her bed.

It's hard not to be disturbed when she seems so distressed in her sleep, but yeah, even if I pick her up and move her away from the edge of the bed, or if she suddenly sits up, she doesn't wake up most of the time.

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From:guppiecat
Date:February 3rd, 2014 09:17 pm (UTC)
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I had those as a kid. That bit about not remembering them is a total lie. Mine lasted until I was 8 or 10, but still appeared sporadically (once a month or so) well through college.

If she's verbal enough, ask her to talk about what she's seeing and hearing and make notes. Then, if it's possible, work those sorts of things into imagination play / story time so she can address them with her waking brain. Mine were mostly loops and once I found ways out of the loops, the terrors stopped.
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From:cathshaffer
Date:February 6th, 2014 04:05 pm (UTC)
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Those aren't night terrors. Those are nightmares. Night terrors happen during non-dreaming sleep. The child is never awake.
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From:the_leewit
Date:February 4th, 2014 12:03 am (UTC)
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Ugh, night terrors. Poor wee thing--- and poor mom! Jedi hugs if they are welcome.
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From:tammylc
Date:February 5th, 2014 01:58 pm (UTC)
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Liam had really bad night terrors for a while, sometimes up to 5 per night. Sometimes he'd cry inconsolably for a half hour or more. Or he'd get out of bed and stomp around. The first time he had one he was at a hotel and actually left the room and went outside in his sleep. Super scary, that...

It turned out that his night terrors were caused by anemia. The theory is that low iron can cause restless leg syndrome, and restless leg syndrome can trigger night terrors. As soon as we started supplementing him with iron his night terrors went away.

So if Rosie's night terrors get worse or more frequent, I'd suggest getting her iron checked, just in case there's an easy solution.
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From:netmouse
Date:February 5th, 2014 02:15 pm (UTC)
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Good to know, thanks!
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From:aimeejmc
Date:February 6th, 2014 12:39 am (UTC)
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Our pede suggested stripping Emeline down and putting her in front of the open freezer to wake her up when they got particularly bad. Em had them 5-6 times a week for about a year. It was hideous. I hope R grows out of them soon.
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From:cathshaffer
Date:February 6th, 2014 04:07 pm (UTC)
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Glen had those, sometimes many a night. I read that they rarely lasted for more than 20 minutes, so I would lie down next to him and watch the clock. Waking a child up in the midst of a terror is a bad idea, unless you want to spend another hour putting him back to sleep. This too shall pass!
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