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Night Terrors?

(4 Posts)
Alannah Fri 08-Jul-05 17:02:00

My dd 16 months has recently started to wake up in the early hours screaming hysterically. I have had to restrain her to give her calpol and eventually she will calm down after she has some milk. Is it possible that she is having bad nightmares at such a young age? Has anyone else had this problem?

tiffini Fri 08-Jul-05 17:05:40

My sister USED TO HAVE NIGHT TERRORS EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE WHEN SHE WAS A KID, it turned out she was responding badly to benelyn cough mixture.

Fosse Fri 05-Aug-05 14:24:20

My ds started having night terrors at about 18 months old. As anyone with a night terrors kid will testify, they are very different to nightmares. They occur in stage 4 sleep (very deep sleep) as opposed to in REM (dream) sleep.
To witness a night terror is very frightening. You hear your child suddenly start screaming hysterically and, upon entering the bedroom, find him sitting up, flailing about as though he is being attacked. He is wide eyed and hyperventillating. But the scariest thing of all is that he is actually fast asleep.
Trying to cuddle and comfort a child experiencing a night terror usually results in the poor kid getting even more traumatised. And if you are not careful you can be kicked and punched. Common wisdom has it that you should not try to restrain the child and certainly never shout or yell or clap your hands. Even though their eyes are wide open, they do not know you are there and may, in fact, think you are someone else. Just speak gently and calmly (we also stroke our son very softly - when he permits this!)and eventually they will calm and go back to sleep.
My ds's night terrors can last between 20 mins to 3/4 hour.
Even though they are harmless (according to all the books) and relatively common in boys between the ages of 2-6, they can be mentally and physically draining. Children hardly ever remember them on waking but ds awoke this morning hardly able to speak. He had screamed himself hoarse in the night, with 2 'terrors' each lasting 40 mins.

PrettyCandles Fri 05-Aug-05 14:36:53

I 'suffered' from night terrors myself as an adult, and what Fosse describes is very accurate, IME. I say 'suffered' because I was the only one who didn't really suffer - anyone else in the same house as me suffered! If it's a night terror, then rest assured that the child truly does not feel any distress. The best thing really is to let them get on with it, if they are not interfered with then it passes very quickly, otherwise it is prolonged and the child can get distressed because of the fuss around them. If you see a pattern (if it was going to happen to me, it was invariably 1 - 1.5 hours after falling asleep) then you can go to them and wake them a little. No need to wake them completely, just to change the sleep state to avoid the NT. During an NT, the best thing is just to stay near the child in case they do wake up, then settle them back in bed - if they need that.

That said, I don't know whether 16m is old enough to have NTs. Could she be teething? Is something happening at the hour she screams that might be disturbing and startling her - a dustcart for example?

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