Bad dreams, we’ve all had them but a nightmare and a night terror are two completely different rotten apples. It isn’t the first time Baby M has had one but I sure do hope that it’s the last.
Just the other night I heard my son wake up in his bedroom but rather than leave his room or call out for me I just heard him sit up and quietly start whimpering in his bed. I stood outside the door for a moment to see if he could settle the problem (whatever it was) on his own. When it appeared that he wasn’t going to stop I walked in and there he sat, hands clutched over his mouth, quietly crying on his bed. I made my way over to him and took a seat near his feet. He didn’t even look at me. I asked if he wanted the light turned on and he shook his head yes.
As a mom, this is the moment where my heart breaks a bit. Anytime my son is upset for a genuine reason I can’t help but wish that I could take all of the pain away. I say genuine because he is three and sometimes saying no to something silly can trigger a slight outpour of tears.
Back to the night terror itself. Once I turned the light on I could see the state that he was really in. His little hands were still clutched over his mouth, his whole body was shaking, his eyes were fixed on his blankets and now his whimpers had turned into a full blown cry. Maybe it’s the wrong reaction, but I scooped him right up onto my lap and held him tight just repeating “mommy’s here” to him. Even that, which helped to soothe him with his last night terror, did nothing to calm him. I asked if he wanted dad and he shook his head yes. Something I have noticed about night terrors is that you either get no responses at all or your child just repeats the same thing. There is generally little to no communication. So in comes my boyfriend sporting his Christmas present from the boys, a tee shirt that reads “Best. Dad. Ever.” He picks up Baby M and sits down in the comfy chair in the corner and within just a few minutes the room falls silent as Baby M fell back asleep in his arms.
Here’s what I learned that night about night terrors.
- They occur during a transition between sleep stages.
- Children as young as eighteen months and as old as twelve years old are the target age group for this kind of night time disruption.
- The night terrors themselves disappear as your child’s nervous system continues to develop.
- A night terror is caused by an over stimulation of the brain during what is normally a smooth transition and the over stimulation startles them.
- They typically happen within just a few hours of falling asleep, during what is the “deepest stage of non-REM sleep.”
- Unlike nightmares your children will not remember having a night terror the following day.
Apparently it is best not to try to attempt waking your child during a night terror because the sudden jump into reality can be more startling than comforting. I, however, do not believe that I am strong enough to just sit by and watch my son cry uncontrollably.
There is no real treatment or prevention for night terrors other than making sure your child does not become overtired before they are put to bed, reducing their stress and sticking to a bedtime routine. For more information on night terrors you can visit the Kids Health webpage which is where 99% of my information came from.
Sweet dreams everyone! (For you and your littles).