Last night Adam had a night terror. My Mom has told me I had them as a child and how unpleasant they are.
A night terror is different from a nightmare. A night terror occurs in the deep sleep stage where nightmares happen in the REM stage of sleep. Children do not recall night terrors but can recall nightmares. They also usually happen about 2-3 hours after the child
first falls asleep.
The child usually out of nowhere starts screaming and crying. They may fight you when you try to console them and unfortunately there is nothing you can do to ease or stop a night terror, you just have to ride it out.
Imagine going into your toddlers room while they are letting out a piercing scream. When they look at you they have a genuine look of fear and are truly scared of you. If you manage to get them out of bed they run and cower in the furthest corner from where you are.
Nothing you do breaks this cycle, trying to give them their blanket or soother upsets them more. It’s heartbreaking and testing at the same time.
This went on for about 30 minutes when as quickly as it started Adam came to and curled up in my arms. It was still almost another 3 hours before I was able to get him back to sleep.
I believe he has had milder ones before but this was the worse one by far. It tested my patience as well as left me feeling so helpless.
My Mom is right about how unpleasant these situations are. I was doing some research and found a few factors that can trigger such occurrences.
Illness, being overtired or stressed can bring on such an occurrence. Adam was overtired having no nap, sugar and being overstimulated. I think that is what brought it on because he’s usually such a good sleeper.
Night terrors also occur more in boys then girls. It’s suggested that if your child has them frequently you should try and keep them in low stress situations and keep to a routine.
Thankfully this isn’t a common occurrence for us and most kids grow out if it by the age of 6.