My co-worker has a 5 year old daughter, Kay, who experiences night terrors at least once a week.  According to the ever-so-informative Wikipedia, a night terror “also known as a sleep terror or pavor nocturnus, is a parasomnia disorder characterized by extreme terror and a temporary inability to regain full consciousness. The subject wakes abruptly from slow-wave sleep, with waking usually accompanied by gasping, moaning, or screaming while waking. It is often impossible to awaken the person fully because they are so concentrated on waking, and after the episode the subject normally settles back to sleep without waking. A night terror can rarely be recalled by the subject. They typically occur during non-rapid eye movement sleep.”

Kay’s parents (and pediatrician) think overheating is one of the causes, so they have a fan blowing in Kay’s room and she wears sleeveless pj’s to bed.  Yet the terrors continue.

Do you have a child who has experienced night terrors?  Do you have any suggestions for my friend?

  • http://juddzz.posterous.com Judi

    Unlike dreams and nightmares, night terrors occur in a different stage of sleep – early sleep; typically within the first 1-3 hours. They are more likely to occur if the child is over-tired or stressed. After not having one for years, my 10 year old son experienced a temporary relapse after being involved in a serious car accident. One suggestion to try is to awaken your child an hour or 2 after going to bed – get them up for a diaper change, a potty visit or a dimly-lit cuddle and lullaby.
    If they experience a terror afterwards, in spite of this, do not interfere – just maintain a calm, supportive presence and understand that although they may appear to be conscious, they are really in another world.
    It is a very frightening experience – more so for the parent as the child does not remember. All the best…

  • http://www.gorillabuns.com gorillabuns

    My oldest has night terrors. So much so, we have to arm wrestle her going to the bathroom because she thinks snakes are crawling all over her.
    The girls NEVER remembers anything the next day. Sadly, I’m quite tired after such episodes.

  • Ali

    Both of my girls had night terrors. They were pretty horrific. It was so hard to deal with. They were awake, but yet not awake. They screamed and cried and wanted you near them but then wanted you to go away…they didn’t know what they wanted. I ended up just sitting at the end of the bed until the screaming stopped and then went back to bed. They never remembered in the morning, even though sometimes they’d last almost an entire hour!

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