Wednesday, 13 April 2011

NIght Terrors

Last week we had Bailey at the hospital as he had an episode which really scared Justin and I. He displayed very odd behaviour not long after we put him down for the night. After review at the hospital the Doctor told us it was possibly a night terror.... OK I’ve heard of these but never really looked into them, who they effect and why. I never in my wildest dreams even thought about it when Bailey was having this episode nor did I ever think my child would have them, therefore there was never anything for me to worry about.
Wanting to find out more about night terrors I went to trusty old google and I found some quite disturbing information and scary re-enactments on utube!

Night terrors can be very serious in nature and parents are advised to understand the importance of safety when a child is having one.  There have been a few theories which have been thought to have an impact on night terrors, some of them diet, it was thought to have been believed that if a child was having night terrors they may be lactose intolerant, or there was a closely related link between the two.  Sleeping patterns were thought to be the cause at one stage, it was believed those children who had irregular sleeping patterns were at higher risk of having terrors, this, was found to be false.

It is now believed that night terrors are related to traumatic childhood memories, so traumatic that the only relief of night terrors is psychosocial therapy. A bit extreme?? I guess it would just depend on the traumatic event I guess...
I find this theory a little odd as Bailey is just over 13 months; I can be assured that he has had no traumatic event in his short life. There seems to be no definition of a traumatic event documented (which I can find) so....asking myself would a traumatic delivery or a night of controlled crying be classed as a traumatic event and if so would this even be remembered by a 13month old child? I found night terrors tend to occur in younger children (4-6yrs) and are usually outgrown by the end of primary school age. 5-15% of children have these. 

The only treatment for night terrors seems to be prevention.... I read that if they are happening frequently and at the same time every night then it is worth waking the child 15minutes prior to the usual time of the event and then put them back to sleep.  Also a trip to the GP is encouraged to rule out anything more sinister. It is stated that terrors occur in non-REM sleep so by waking them prior to an event you are starting the sleeping cycle over again, in hope that the child will avoid the terror. A consistent night time (prior to bed) routine should be encouraged. Quiet story time is a good idea and avoiding T.V and too much excitement is a must. There are usually no long-term psychological effects.

Safety is a great concern and parents are urged to lock all doors (as the child may run around in the event) sleeping on the ground floor is also recommended. Parents are encouraged to divert the child from harm’s way; it is advised that parents let their child ‘snap’ out of the terror on their own accord as the more they are disturbed the longer the terror could go for. Generally terrors should only last for a few minutes and following that the child should drift off to sleep with little or no recollection the next day.

I was told (at this time unable to find written info) that night terrors are genetic and can be indicators that the child may sleep walk etc in later life. I found this point funny as both Justin and I do some strange stuff in our sleep..... He likes to drive his truck, yep, he would sit up, steer like he had a wheel in his hands and use the foot peddles, and at times it would appear as though he is abusing the person in the car next to him, which is really me. By the time it gets to that I have woken, laying there looking at him, giggling, he snaps out of it. He says that he knows he does it but cannot stop himself from doing it (he would kill me if he know I posted this about him hehehe). I on the other hand have been known to sleepwalk, I have in the past locked myself out of the house all hours of the night and knocked on the door to get back in, apparently I have made coffee or sat in the lounge and read a magazine, I have absolutely no recollection of ever doing these things.... 

It is strange the way our minds work. I guess there is no hope for Bailey if both of his parents have sleeping issues? 

There is soooo much info out there on night terrors I could go on forever but I put it out there -Please post your thoughts and ideas, I would love to hear what others think or know about night terrors....


  1. Hey Kaz,
    there is a lot of info out there about night terrors. Also a lot of info about nightmares. Apparently from what I have read, night terrors happen in younger children and a developmental thing and nightmares happen in older children and are the result of a traumatic episode. Soph never had night terrors but apparently they are common and most children grow out of them. If Bailey had troubles falling asleep then perhaps he will always have troubles in his sleep. The fact that he is getting teeth currently could be enough to trigger episodes.

  2. So true Nat, all tooooo confusing for this head! I guess if it does happen again then at least we will be aware and not freaking out like last time : )