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Old 05-06-2013, 09:23 PM   #1
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need help dealing with night terrors

In the past week and a half, my 7-year-old son has started having night terrors nearly every night, and I need some advice or suggestions for helping curb them. We've tried talking about it, and tried praying specifically about his "fits" (his word) before bed, with no luck.

I can't get him to tell me what he's seeing or hearing in his head that scares him so much - he's virtually incoherent in the throes of one of these episodes, and when he's fully awake and calm, he still can't articulate what was scaring him, although sometimes he'll mention random things, like the Star Wars Death Star, shadows on the ceiling, or his little brother. When it's happening, he doesn't seem to recognize me or realize what's going on - tonight, I picked him up and was talking gently to him, and he kept trying to tear away, saying he wanted mama and wanted to be snuggled, even though I was right there, holding him tightly.

The terrors occur about an hour after he goes to sleep, and last maybe five minutes; once he's calmed down, he's usually fine the rest of the night.

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Old 05-06-2013, 09:44 PM   #2
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Hugs. My DS is only 2, but he has had a couple off night terrors, and it is so hard. I read that it is best not to intervene, as they don't see you and can be scared of you during a night terror, and that the terror might pass more quickly if you let it run its course--just stay close in case kiddo sleepwalks or is otherwise active and could get close. But it is hard not to try to soothe and wake up your baby in that state.
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Old 05-06-2013, 09:47 PM   #3
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I also read that a regular bedtime and sleep routine help prevent them, and if they are predictable, you can wake your child up right before one would happen to prevent it each night.
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Old 05-06-2013, 10:52 PM   #4
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Hugs. My DS is only 2, but he has had a couple off night terrors, and it is so hard. I read that it is best not to intervene, as they don't see you and can be scared of you during a night terror, and that the terror might pass more quickly if you let it run its course--just stay close in case kiddo sleepwalks or is otherwise active and could get close. But it is hard not to try to soothe and wake up your baby in that state.
This. also I read somewhere not to talk to them about it because they don't remember out and taking about it only stresses them more. They happen more often in overly tired kids especially when sick. One of my boys has them quite a bit.
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Old 05-06-2013, 11:00 PM   #5
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Re: need help dealing with night terrors

Has anything changed in his diet or environment lately? I ask, because sometimes there is a link between allergies/sensitivities and night terrors.
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Old 05-07-2013, 05:38 AM   #6
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Re: need help dealing with night terrors

DD was having terrors for a while & still will occasionally. It's not worth it to try to talk to her; she's not awake & can't really hear or respond appropriately. For us, the terrors are associated with sleep deprivation--usually if she's been going to bed late or not napping. We have to make her go to bed earlier. It also helps to vaguely rouse her after she falls asleep but before the terror occurs...she almost never has one if we remember to do this even if she does go to bed late.
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Old 05-07-2013, 06:22 AM   #7
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Re: need help dealing with night terrors

DD (now 12) used to have them when she was younger (2-4) so she was never really able to articulate what was going on. She has always been a vivid sleeper (sleep talking, dreams she can easily recall) but she would often wake up the next morning with no recollection of a night terror.

As others have stated, it is best to leave them be and don't talk to them while they are in the midst of one. It is difficult as our instinct is to comfort and reason, but that doesn't work.

Does your DS talk to you in his terrors? Is he initiating contact? He will be incoherent because he is essentially actively dreaming and acting it out. If they continue, I would recommend consulting your pediatrician as they may have a bit more knowledge and be able to troubleshoot issues or direct you to a good therapist.

Good luck, they are no fun for anyone involved. (((HUGS)))
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Old 05-07-2013, 09:50 AM   #8
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Re: need help dealing with night terrors

Thanks for the suggestions and support. I was doing some more research last night and read about not talking to the child about it, so I deliberately said nothing to him this morning about last night's episode, and he never brought it up. I might try waking him before it happens, but once he's asleep, he's really hard to wake up.

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Does your DS talk to you in his terrors? Is he initiating contact? He will be incoherent because he is essentially actively dreaming and acting it out. If they continue, I would recommend consulting your pediatrician as they may have a bit more knowledge and be able to troubleshoot issues or direct you to a good therapist.
He talks, but not specifically *to* me. He sort of goes on and on incoherently, sometimes cries out, "Help me!" and "Mama!" and that's usually all I can understand. He alternately clings to me and pushes away and moves frantically about the room.

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Has anything changed in his diet or environment lately? I ask, because sometimes there is a link between allergies/sensitivities and night terrors.
I can't think of anything that has changed in either - eating and drinking the same things as usual; the only thing that might qualify as a change in environment is that we got him a new bed, but that was two months ago.
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Old 05-07-2013, 09:57 AM   #9
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Re: need help dealing with night terrors

I have had night terrors as long as I can remember. And they definitely occur more often when I am sleep deprived or when I'm stressed. Is there anything stressing him out? Maybe instead of focusing on the night terrors, try talking to him about stuff that happens during the day, and try to figure out if there is something stressing him out. *hugs* mama. good luck!
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Old 05-07-2013, 10:14 AM   #10
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Re: need help dealing with night terrors

I was just thinking. My MIL gets terrible nightmares (not sure if they would count as night terrors) when she gets too hot while she sleeps.
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