A Toddler’s Night Terror

Laaija is a sound sleeper and she can sleep very well even under very noisy environment. If she’s sleeping, she’s sleeping. However, once in a while, she would wake up and demand some of the most bizarre and weird demands. She would wail and cry, asking me to take her to down to the play-park, that her toys are being taken away, she do not love that person. We believed that she had nightmares and that woke her up.

She is uncontrollable during those fits and can last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. She would then want her to keep holding her, walk around and when her crying subsides, she sleeps off. We’ve asked her many a times in the morning if anything happened. She had no recollection of what happened. She does not seem to be scared of something in her sleep.

A little concerned over her night troubles which, though not so often, I began looking around searching for relations with a child’s problem specially sleepless nights, nightmares. I found out that it’s a rather common happenings amongst toddlers and can affect the best of the best kid.

These happenings are called Night Terror, also known as a sleep terror or pavor nocturnus. Night Terror is a parasomnia disorder that predominantly affects children, causing feelings of terror or dread. Night terrors are periods of hysterical crying, screaming and non-responsiveness. Night terrors should not be confused with nightmares, which are bad dreams that cause the feeling of horror or fear. It is known to be prevalent in children from age two to six, and they affect about fifteen percent of all children.

Night Terror are not Nightmares

Nightmares happen during rapid eye movement (REM) or dream sleep. A child who’s had a nightmare is likely to have a fairly clear idea of what scared her, though she probably won’t be able to articulate her fright until she’s about 2. She may also be afraid to fall back asleep, and in the morning, she’ll probably remember that she had a bad dream. However, in the case of Night Terror, your child will return to a sound sleep and have no memory of the incident in the morning.

So, what do you do when your child have Night Terror?

It is advised that you just wait it out and make sure she doesn’t hurt herself. Don’t speak to her or try to soothe her, and don’t try to shake or startle her awake or physically restrain her — all of which could lead to more frantic behavior. In 15 to 20 minutes, your child should calm down, curl up, and fall into a deep sleep again.

If your child experiences Night Terror, make sure

  • Hard toys are not around her when she sleeps.
  • Of course, not sharp or dangerous objects around her bed.
  • Close doors properly and do not allow objects that can be dangerous to her when she roams around or walks around during her night terror moment.
  • Watch or listen to your child to make sure they are safe, but do not try to talk to them or hold them down. Talking or restraining a child often times makes the child more aggravated.

How do you prevent or reduce Night Terror.

  • Let her get enough sleep, since children who go to bed overtired are more likely to experience night terror.
  • Extend her nap time, let her sleep a little later in the morning, or put her to bed earlier at night.
  • Schedule plenty of time for calming bedtime rituals, such as a bath, a song, a book, and lots of cuddling.
  • Since night terrors usually occur during the first part of the night, you could also try gently rousing your toddler after she’s been asleep for an hour or two — about 15 minutes before the typical episode would start. This should alter her sleep pattern enough to head off the night terror at the pass.
A Toddler’s Night Terror
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A Toddler’s Night Terror