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March 2014: Participate in Research on Night Terrors at Stanford Sleep Center
Has your child ever woken up at night, physically appearing to be
awake, but you were unable to get his or her attention? If so, then
you may be one of the roughly 20% of parents who have a child with
night terrors (also known as sleep terrors). We are conducting a
study at the Stanford Sleep Center on the use of a home sleep
management treatment for night terrors. Follow this link to learn
more about night terrors and available studies (including options if
you don't live in the San Francisco Bay Area):
For general information about participants rights, contact 1-866-680-2906.
Thank you for your help with this important research!
Editor note The advice below is from
parents whose kids have experienced night terrors.
If you want to share your experience with other parents,
please click here to send us an email. We'll add your message to this page with just your first name.
If you want to say where you live, we'll include that too - we get postings from
all over the world.
Sorry, but we don't
have anyone who can answer questions about night terrors.
This is just a parent-to-parent advice service and there's
just one mom keeping this website up to date!
My son started having all the classic symptoms of NT. They seem to
worsen with change. We moved and my five year boy started having them
again. After about six months and settle in our home, the NT have stopped.
We have moved again and he is 8 and half and the NT have started again.
I am a nurse and have researched in depth and have come to realized
change has some trigger pt for NT. Has anyone else reached the same
Recently my 8year old great grandson whom we are raising has begun to
suffer NTs. He begins by whimpering, jerking and becoming agitated then
he either falls out of bed or jumps out. He then wanders about but
sometimes then starts to bang himself against doors and walls as he tries
to leave the room. He becomes very strong and jumps out of windows.
Last week he even climbed up into his tree house. We even called our two
neighbours (Drs) at that point, to come and help us; it was 6am. Neither of
them could help and seemed to be as much at a loss as we were. On
reflection it seems to us that more people near him were making him worse
- both doctors turned the lights full on and talked to him while one held him.
It did not work, only agitating him more. It was an hour and a half before he
began to come out of the state. He always begins these NT after 4 am and
mostly from 5-6am. This morning he called me at 5.45am and said he
wanted to go to the toilet but couldn't get out of bed. I thought he was
awake and helped him out. He got back in his bed and after a couple of
minutes began whimpering and jerking. I gently spoke to him and
suggested it was nearly time to get up for school (7am) and that perhaps
he would like to snuggle down in our bed for a while. He climbed in
between us but then said it was colder than his bed and got up. He went
into our dressing room, turned the light on, found a jersey of my husband
and to our amazement made sure it was turned right side out. While he
was doing this I suggested that it may be a good time to watch cartoons.
With that he went and turned the TV on and I settled him with a pillow and
blanket and his bed toy giraffe. He appeared to be watching but was glassy
eyed and not responding to normal stuff. I am sure he was not awake; he
made no effort to stop me turning the sound down as is usual. At about
7am he picked up his breakfast sandwich and ate it and then got dressed
for school. No memory of previous hour or so. He was properly awake by
this time and spoke about going to choir practice at school. This is the Very
Best way we have managed to get through these awful episodes with far
less agitation on his part. He even quietly said â€™OK' when I told him he
mustn't go outside because it was very wet. He said he had a sore ear at
7.15am and I now wonder if it may have triggered the NT. Does anyone
else's child have them at this time of early morning before it gets light? -
Our child is 3 years old and experiences night terrors about 1 every 2 weeks. I have noticed that these episodes usually occur when (but not always) fighting a cold or fever, has been taking cough or cold medicine.
It also seems to happen if it the temperature in our house is warmer than usual, feeling too warm and uncomfortable.
I have found the most I can do is make sure he does not bang into dangerous objects so we make sure his sleeping area is uncluttered.
I find that trying to reason or talk with him or only infuriates him. Sometimes if he says something I can understand he will respond to a question, but this really has only random results in calming him. It just seems to go away.
I used to have this when I was a young child. I was also a very active and functional sleepwalker. About 50% of the time I did not remember anything in the morning. Sometimes I would remember that something went on, but could not remember details. A few times I could remember what I was doing, but recall I really had no control, or it felt like what I was doing made sense at that time.
I have a very good sense of patterns, and I can remember some of the circumstances that seemed to coincide with my episodes. I also see some of these circumstances are coinciding with my son. I will share what in my recollection, seemed to be things that in some way contributed to my episodes. Again I am just speculating, but I do have an uncanny recollection of some of these episodes and patterns when I was a child. I will list them in priority of how much I think they contributed.
#1 Temperature: Being too warm seemed to precede this. Being in the sun a lot during the day seemed to have an effect on me. Likewise, if it was hot that night, I would be restless and typically have an episode.
#2 Stress: I know that when I was scared or worried, it would play out in my sleep.
#3 Illness: This tended to happen when I had a fever or I was taking a cough or cold medicine.
#4 Dehydrated: For the episodes I can slightly remember, I recall having this thirsty feeling, or was very thirsty. this usually coincided with late night snacks before bed, or with being out in the sun (maybe a little too long) during the day.
I can also remember this very vividly: When I was sleepwalking I got very frustrated, angry, and even physical if I became semi-conscious. Especially if someone tried to reason or ask me questions. I recall almost having some awareness that I was still sleeping, but could not snap out of it. If people were asking me questions it only made me angrier because I felt very vulnerable. again I am only speculating but I remember that reasoning with me never helped and usually infuriated me in that state.
I share this because I can remember these patterns so well, and I am seeing the same in my 3 year old.
He had a fever for the last 3 days, today he was feeling better and played outside in the sun. He also did not nap, and really had a full day of activity. Tonight I lowered the AC before bed, thinking the night temperature would cool down but it did not,and I was very uncomfortable. at about 11:00pm after about 3.5 hours sleep he had an episode. He became very frustrated with any conversation or reasoning, but seemed to like me holding and slightly bouncing him in a standing position, with his head on my shoulder.
I would like to note, he also had been taking children's ibuprofen for the last 3 days, and received a dose at about 5PM that night.
Again, I am sharing this from having had this issue when I was a child, and seeing my son suffer from the same thing. What I am really sharing, and interested in hearing is if any of the patterns, circumstances or potential catalysts I have noticed are being noticed by other parents.
My son is 10, when he was young age 3-7 he would have them quite often maybe 1 every month or so, sometimes more.
He hadn't had an episode for a few years until last night and Wow! it was the worst ever and scared me very badly.Which is why I am emailing it here.
He had been asleep for a little over an hour.Suddenly,
he was screaming like he was being severely hurt and yelling this continued the entire time which last 10 minutes or so. At first I thought he was hurt-it was the sound a mother only knows, the kind that has you run running towards your child.
when I entered the living room which is right next to his room was sprinting around the house yelling momma momma help me, I am going to die, I am going to die. he was shaking uncontrollably, his eyes were wide open, pupils were very dilated and glassy eyed. I know he could see me I know this because he was dragging me around the house, he was super strong. He also was hugging me uncontrollably, I kept trying to hug him longer to try and keeps him safe from hurting himself, but he would then dart around the house. His dad came out of the room as well and his older sister and he was hugging them as well saying there names. He was defiantly hallucinating in my opinion. We could do nothing to help him or calm him down. He also was hurdling over the couch like it was nothing. It was I would say very weird-which is an understatement. Finally we coached him into his room on his bed where he seems to come back around, I got him a glass of water-when I returned to his room with the glass of water he was calm-his normal self.
He talked a little about his dream at that point but parts were hard to talk about to scary to speak of. He fell right back to sleep with no other terrors the rest of the night.
I called his doctor today-waiting for advice.
This is a parents nightmare----I was so worried he was going to hurt himself, I can't imagination if a teenager did this-I would imagination they would be impossible to help manage due to strength...
I am a soon-to-be parent, but my nephew and niece both experienced night
terrors. They were horrible! They had them 3-5 times per week for several
months on end, and were extremely disruptive to the parents (and us when we
stayed there). They also were very difficult to watch, and even though we knew
they do not cause harm to the kid, it is so hard seeing them like that. There is
not much that can be done now, except to let them go, don't try to wake the
kid...they will eventually grow out of them. The information online is not very
good, either, but did find one interesting resource:
Also, most pediatricians are aware of night terrors, so if you are having trouble,
you should bring it up with him/her. They can make sure they are night terrors,
and not something more serious (which I think is rare), and may have
suggestions to help...if not, though, go see another physician or a sleep
medicine specialist who can help -- I know they helped my in-laws...
My daughter has had night terrors since she was a baby, but now at the age of seven she is having them 4 or 5 times a week and when she is having the night terror she runs around the house and screams and doesn't recognize us as her parents. They last from five to almost 15 min at times and when she finally does wake up she has no idea what happen or that she even had a night terror. It is very upsetting because I have no idea how to help her. We don't let her watch anything scary and she is fine in the day time. She loves school and is a very happy child. She is and has always been on a strict bed time schedule. I am making her an appointment with her doctor to try and get some help. I am just lost on what to do at this point.
Hello there. U guys have also been lots of help. It all started on Sept,20 2013 well I have been putting my lil 3 yr old girlie to bed in her own bed cuz she loves to sleep with me. This night everything was ok I put her to sleep on the couch and I slept on the other and then all of a sudden, My daughter is standing up a couple of steps away from the couch she was sleeping on just talking jibberish, almost like it was in tongues .So I said Mykain a loud voice a couple of times and then she finally snapped out of it. We asked what she was doing and who was she talking to and she said ( nothing ) then later she told me (daddy).But she looked so distraught and didn't want to talk about it and started crying saying her stomache hurt. ???? HUH SO SCAREY. NOW THE NEXT - She hasn't felt goood allday her stomach would hurt and fever and vomit. So an hr after bed and she on the couch again , her eyes are open and she's screaming bloody murder like someone is trying to kill her and her pupils are dialated just looking like something was attacking her and like she would like have a glitch or like she just got shocked or something.She was also talking to us like saying (I can't wake up.)She really looked pussested. All I know dad took her out side and she snapped out of it. The cold air I guess. She never liked being covering up anyways, that night I tucked her in. So I will try the methods and see.Please just let me know why they are having nt's . THANK YOU
Hi everyone. I just wanted to share my sons story on
night terrors. His started around 9 months and he was
having a few a night. Eyes wide open but glazed he
would stare straight ahead and scream like someone
was trying to kill him. It was very distressing
especially because we didn't realize what they were
until he was about 18 months when I saw an episode
of the doctors on TV. We always just thought he had
avery low pain threshold and they were caused by
teething. He is now 3 and only has them a few times a
week during his day nap. He is have a sleep study
done tomorrow to see if he has sleep apnea. Hr has
huge tonsils and wakes frequently during the night
coughing and spluttering. We've found keeping him
cool helps he will only sleep in underwear even in
winter and trying to calm him down before the
screaming starts really helps. Otherwise his terrors
last about 20-30 mins the first 10 being in bed
screaming kicking thrashing eyes.wide open and
glazed and the last 10 mins him throwing down chairs
overturning any furniture he can lift and thensobbing
asking for juice. We are hoping the sleep study can
give us more of an idea of what is going on with his
brain and or breathing as we are worried as he gets
older he could hurt himself. Afterwards he is back to
his pleasant self with no recollection. We have been
doing the failsafe elimination diet for the past few
weeks and he hasn't had one terror. We've found since
cutting bananas and chocolate and other fruit except
pears have really helped him.
Rachel in Australia
My son has had night terrors since he was 2 years old. He 'wakes up'
screaming and crying, to the point a neighbor believed he was being abused.
I was 22 years old when thisbegan, he is my first child and I've never heard
of NTs in my life. While screaming and fighting me he would scream out
'no,i don't want to play' or 'leave me alone' I swore it was because my house
was haunted (a rumor going back 40+ years) and that our house 'ghost' was
tormenting him. when he has NT episodes he truly looks ppossessed and
scary. Normally a boy who comes to me to make everything better, refused
to allow me to comfort him. I would sit on the other end of the bed hysterical
and lost because I could not comfort my son. It happens a lot when he's
sleeping somewhere else, and also when he's home. Recently we spent the
weekend at my Aunts house, and after a long day he fell asleep, shortly after
everybody went to bed he began screaming and throwing himself around the
room. My whole family came running down trying to help 'snap him out of
it'. WhileI i was trying to hold him, somebody put a wet cloth on his head
which seemed to help. 15Mins later he was laying down with me and it was
over. Other nights he will jump and push me away, kick and punch. It
seems to have calmed down in the last year, he gets them maybe once a
month, but the last few have been so bad that he vomits, and while iI'm
holding a bucket under him he suddenly wets the bed (which causes him to
wake up very upset). He has never had an accident other than during a NT
episode. This has to be one of the scariest experiences I've ever had, the
fact that my child is scared out of his mind, and there is NOTHING iI can do
to help him is very upsetting. As he got older iI also began mentioning the
NTs episodes which he never remembers. It wasnt until today that iI finally
gave up denying something was wrong and looked into it. I'm hoping he
grows out of it. So far so good, but it doesn't seem to last. I read on this
blog that making them use the bathroom helps, iI'm going to try that next
time. (Hopefully there won't be a next time :(
Hello all NT folks! I'm almost 40 and have had night terrors
since I was about 11-12. And of course I used to sleep walk
since a very young age. May have had NT younger but my
family really noticed them when I hit middle school because
I would scream bloody murder and sometimes run through the
house until I snapped out of it. I still have NT today but I
am in much better control of them if that makes any sense. I
realize much sooner I'm having one. For me, being overtired,
hot, and stressed all contribute to the NT.
I have a 12-year
old son who also has night terrors which started at about 4
yrs old. I feel like they have really picked up in intensity
since he hit middle school. For him it's essential that we
keep his room and him very cool (we've even opened the
window when it's snowing outside!). Also, fatigue combined
with stress really trigger NT for him. He very rarely has
NTs in the summer (no school) and almost always has them
when he's got a lot of homework and late nights. Like me,
his NT usually occur 1 - 1.5 hours after he's fallen asleep.
Last night he had one of the worse NTs in a while (garbling,
sleepwalking and panicky feeling) and it took about 5-10 min
to bring him out of it. The one big distinction between his
NT and my NT is that sometimes he vomits. He literally feels
sick to his stomach. I wonder if his are more anxiety based
than mine. We may seek counseling but not sure what to do.
I'm trying to teach him what we are noticing to be the
triggers so that he can help himself somewhat.
my son who is 9 years old has been having night terrors now for over 2 years , same time each night about 45mins after going to bed. sometime he even comes down the stairs wrapped in a duvet which is quite scary.
i have done the the waking up thing after 30 mins just pro longs the attack to later in the night . i have tired giving him something to eat before he goes to bed and a drink non of these to work ,
i have also taken him to the toilet in the middle of attack thinking he needs the toilet .
if i am upstairs when he has a terror starting now i can get him to lie back back down and stroke his hair and he goes back to sleep. i try to keep his room cool as he gets hot and sweats alot when asleep.
i have just read about tonsil that might cause a problem with this , my son does snore alot if he asleep on his back , so i wonder if this has anything to do with it , i am hopeful that he will grow out of this soon it was very distressing when he first started doing it i am now getting use it .
Sharon in the UK
My name is Richard I am 24. I have had night terrors since I can
remember. They have gotten more extreme the older I've gotten.
Sometimes I have one once or twice a week or once or twice a month. I've
come to realize having a full stomach before bed or sleeping on my back
triggers most of it but sometimes just happens just because. Stepping on
cold floors will wake me up but turning on a light or hearing someone talk to
me works. Multiple voices and flashing lights like flashlights make it worse.
It hurts sometimes because my heart is racing so fast from fear.
Sometimes I am scared to go to sleep fearing I will have another night of
bad awakenings and fear that there is something trying to get me. I am not
sure how to help someone else that has this but hope who ever has a child
that has this I pray you find a solution for them and they grow out of it.
I have an 11 year old daughter who suffers from NT. Her first onset was
around 20 months. She would scream uncontrollably, eyes wide open,
petrified of something, she could run around, thrashing about but
without bumping into anything, she gas always been totally aware of
her surrounding environment, but for years she couldn't recognise us
and we couldn't console her. I tried every remedy under the sun and
the most effective was to take her into the toilet and sit her on it, as
soon as she had done the toilet she would wake up and fall asleep
pretty quickly. The episodes initially lasted a lot longer and were more
frequent, but i realised that they occured when she had been feeling ill,
had a fever, overtired or stressed/anxious. Now age 11, this is still the
case but she takes less frequent episodes. She now recognises me and
wraps her arms tightly around me for comfort, she repeats mum, mum,
mum and clings to me for help. I calmly reassure her, tell her mums
here, mummy loves you, mummy will keep you safe. I direct her to the
toilet, sometimes u have to sternly tell her to go to the toilet, but as
soon as she has toileted she either wakens completely or almost
conpletely, she lies down, I hold her hand or cuddle her, tell her she's
okay, axknowledge that she's had a dream (she knows and remembers
having these but cant explain them). She falls back asleep pretty
quickly. She has been sick over the weekend and had more episodes
than usual last night. A couple were her ordinary NT pattern but
inbetween she would sit bolt upright and say a few bizzarre sentences
then lie down and go back to sleep. I have never really told anyone
about these as my mum just doesnt understand them and thinks they
are abnormal, she even says things like the doctor will send her to a
psychologist to see whats wrong with her. It will be put in her file. My
husband, his uncle and grandma suffered from these. His stopped
around the age of 12 and he remembers feeling afraid and seeing lots
of colours and shapes. I have two other children and fingers crossed
they never take a NT. Reassuring, toileting and walking on cold tiles
would be my best suggestion. Oh and i just have a dim background
light, only my voice talking, two voices is too much, keep noise to a
A. in the UK
My 4 year old daughter has suffered from night terrors since right before
she was 2. They are so frightening, and seemed to take me more than a
few episodes to actually accept what was going on. It's difficult because I
just want to hold her and rock her but she throws punches and kicks
violently. She doesn't do the typical 'sit up in bed with eyes wide open'
deal either. Instead she stays laying down, albeit thrashing around, and
eyes shut and she will not open them. This made and still makes it
sometimes difficult to recognize that she was indeed having a night terror.
Neither my husband nor I can touch her at all anywhere to comfort her,
can't even brush the hair from her face without being "attacked". She'll
often scream out my name or even her sister's name, but doesn't say
much of any other actual words. The screams are piercing to the ears and
she cries nearly to the point of making herself vomit. The night terrors
typically start maybe an hour to two after she falls out, and they last
around half an hour to forty five minutes, but not all the way through.
She'll calm down after 15 minutes or so, and them rears up again, doing
this 3 or 4 times before the entire episode is truly over. Her night terrors
are often accompanied by urinating, either in the bed or while standing in
a daze. Once during a night terror, she actually was trying to hold it in
and expressing an urgency. I was able to guide her to the potty and she
went and then I took her back to bed and the episode was over. Since
then, every time she has an episode, I try to calmly talk her into going
potty, and eventually she'll aknowledge my existence and go potty. Also,
now I have learned to absolutely make her go pee-pee before falling
asleep every night religiously, because other than having an over
stimulating, exciting day, her needing to badly go pee also are the root
causes of her terrors I have learned. This really does help greatly reduce
her occurrences of terrors I've found, by at least 75% probably. That's
something I would strongly recommend to anyone who's child is having
night terrors. Also, I make sure there is as little as possible lights on,
sounds and movements, even footsteps.
My son started having night terrors when he was four. I have always managed to calm him down and eventually he came out of them. He stopped having them about 18 months ago and I had thought he had grown out of them. He is now 8 and has had four in the last week.(the last one just now) He screams and shout out for someone to help him. Although his words are clear non of it makes sense. I did not know this website existed. I know now I am not alone and shall read other parents experiences and hope I can be put as ease.
This last night terror has upset me the most and I am feeling pretty useless that I cannot help him.
My child is now 7 and she is experiencing NT since forever. She used to be
colic, and I am not sure when we got into NT, because for a long time, I
thought it is just being colic. She used to have it every day (sometimes 2
times and until age 5 it was a pretty agressive NT) and we have tried
everything. Since the last 6 moths the NT has changed. Now she can
remember it, and she knows the feeling of it but she can not describe it. I
would prefer her not remembering it. Sometimes she is kicking, walking,
screaming, ..sometimes just crying very loud, and for a very long time. It used
to be a terrifying 30 minutes, or longer, now it is 1 hour. We always makes
sure that she does not eat fruits after 7:00pm or if she eats it is just a toast.
What we think triggers it: being overheated (now she is sleeping in shirts and
shorts, and even then she can get overheated in a 22 C furnace setting), fruit,
eating too late, going to bed after bedtime, stress, bed dreams?, not doing
enough physical activity during the day when she has lots of energy. Today
she would scream her sisters name for 30 minutes. Sometimes when the little
sister is crying that helps the older sister to get out of NT. She feels so sad
that the little one is crying and it is so difficult for her to come out of NT, I
can see her trying. It is so great that I have found this web site. When we
travel or someone hears it, they start to judge her, or me as it must be
because we do something wrong or if she has a deeper problem. Even my
mother would say something like that. People are so judgemental, it makes
me sad. I hope she will outgrow it, because she is a very outgoing happy little
girl, and I don't want people judging her because of this sleeping disorder
that she has inherited from my husband (he had it as a child but not for this
long) and her grandfather. Even if I tell people that it is in the family, they
would over-analyze my child and try to read more into it . She is sensitive, but
a very creative social butterfly with a pretty patient stable family. Many kids
have been treated badly and they don't have sleeping disorders. So NT must
be an inherited problem
Horrific! Terrifying and gut wrenching don't begin to describe the what seemed like endless nights of night terrors that we had with our 1-1/2 to 2 year old daughter. I won't go into the conditions and environment in our home, it is a loving, safe and nice place. She has loving parents who were/are trying their best. Just trying to figure out what this was took us a few weeks to diagnose as night terrors. She would wake up somewhere from 1:30 am to about 4:00 am screaming, kicking and thrashing. Nothing we did could console or stop her. We did some pretty tough things. I would not recommend some of the things I tried, some dumb ideas. Finally, we got a tip from a fellow pediatrician about a possible way to stop the night terrors.
I want to cut right to it so as to possibly help anyone out there experiencing this. Even if my email helps just one person, one family, whomever, I will feel better. I feel for anyone who has to go through this.
She would go down between 9:00 pm to 10:00 pm. Late I know. We tried getting her ready with the "routine": jammies, bath, brush teeth, book stories each night, but sometimes she just wouldn't go down. I am a night owl, so I am up late. The pediatrician suggested that I go in and wake her to break the deep sleep pattern. I did notice when I started doing this that she did sleep extremely deep. So, I would stir her enough so that I could see her move to some degree and come out of her very deep sleep.
Well, unbelievably, it worked! I don't think she has had an epsiode since. I gently woke her consisently for awhile, how long I forget, she's now 3 years old. I don't do it regularly anymore, but I probablky do it about 70% of the time, because I just don't ever want to exerience that again. And some of the stories I read on this blog make me be diligent about continuing this technique.
This blog really helped me when I was thinking all kinds of crazy thoughts about what was causing this. It was very comforting to hear the various ideas and experiences from others. I appreciate what everyone wrote.
I really hope this works for you and I meant it when I write, May God bless you wth this and I hope you can get through this to remain a loving parent while staying sane. Thanks to all the writers here.
My grandson started having NT at 9 months old after a severe ear infection. Three different antibiotics did not work so he ended up being sick with high fever (104 before tylenol) for 4 weeks. He is now 12 and no longer takes naps at home or daycare(we and daycare have tried everything and, even though other babies his age are sleeping, he just doesn't sleep) Because my daughter is so exhausted I started watching him one night a week and this is when I discovered it was NT that he was having. He has these 3-4 times per night EVERY night! The first one starts about 1 to 1 1/2 hours after bedtime and then he continues to have them every 2 hours or so until morning. They typically last 10 minutes to 40 minutes. He screams like he is in extreme pain, slaps, kicks, flails, bangs his head into us, his heart speeds up and he breaths fast. Sometimes his eyes are open but just staring. He will eventually take a bottle and that is when he crashes off into deep sleep. We feel so bad for him and everything I have read says there is nothing to do for him except comfort. From what I have read it seems that he is having many more per week than most and wonder if anything can be done if the episodes are more frequent or severe than usual. I have advised my daughter to tape one of the NT and show to Dr. at his well baby check in a month. Also, he has hearing loss in one ear (due to infection) and is to have tubes put in when they have an opening. I'm curious if this has anything to do with NT since they started about the same time as ear problems.
THANK YOU so much for your excellent web site. I have a toddler who was
experiencing night terrors, and I found your site via Google. I followed
the advice of one parent that recommended keeping her feet uncovered. We
had just switched to footy-pajamas as the weather turned cold, and had
not noticed the coincidence. As simple as it sounds, it was and remains
a mystery as to how and why this solved our problem. I also appreciated
reading about other parents who were dealing with this issue, as it is
truly terrifying. I cannot tell you how heartbreaking it is to have your
child screaming and thrashing uncontrollably, and be unable to console
or comfort them. I had a college roommate who experienced night terrors,
so I was familiar with them; otherwise I would have thought I was losing
to add a few comments based on my first-hand experience with this disorder. I
realize that most children outgrow this disorder and never remember any
episodes. I DO remember many of my later episodes (at least bits and pieces,
all having to do with spiders crawling all over me) and I really didn't
"outgrow" the episodes until I was about 20 (so I have an adult's memory of
them). I have to disagree with the comments that you can't wake a child or
shouldn't wake a child during an episode. When I got to the stage where I
started to remember parts of the episodes I told my mother to shake me awake
as soon as possible when I was having one. It was like being saved from the
most terrifying experience I could imagine (to this day I am terrified of the
smallest spider...). When my mother did this, I was greatly relieved and then
fell back to sleep exhausted. Whether I would have remembered the episode
otherwise, I don't know...but I know that even if I was asleep, I was still
terrified by the experience and I appreciated that it was as short as
By the way, I liked the "feet in cold water" trick. If my children ever
develop this disorder, I'll give it a try!
Also, my episodes were definitely brought on by stress...as a young child I
had them daily when school started each fall and they tapered off after a week
or two. As an adult (in my thirties) I sometimes have an "almost" night
terror...my mind seems to be able to signal me by way of a "spider" dream that
I have unresolved stresses to deal with.
I remember having nightmares and night terrors as a child. I have made
my own analysis about it based on my own experiences. I believe that
they are caused by the body's panic reaction to not being able to
breathe. I realized when I got a little older that they came on when I
was starting to go into REM sleep, when breathing becomes heavier and
more rhythmic. I found that I needed to lie in bed in a position where I
could breathe easily. If my chest was scrunched in anyway or if I had
too many things in my bed or if I was sick, I could not breathe well and
I would go into a nightmare. I mentioned
this to a mom that I work with when she told me her little boy was
having night terrors. They cleared off his bed of excess toys and kept
his room well aired and it helped a lot. I am not a sleep specialist and
this is not scientific, but I thought I would mention it.
Thanks to all of you who shared their experiences with night terror. As a parent af an 8 year old that sleep walks and has had repeated NT episodes here is a short list of your advice that helped me help my daughter.
1) Graphic accounts by older NT victims helped me to understand the clear and immediate fear that my daughter felt during her episodes. This motivated me to protect my child as I would if the fear was real - because in her mind it was. I also shared that I had read these stories. Validating her experience, acknowledging that I believe her NT, and committing to help slay the dragons in her sleep gave my little girl tremendous confidence and did much to relieve the stress of going to bed (stress is bad.. it triggers NT).
2) Understanding the physiology of sleep and when the NT comes (usually about 60 mins after falling asleep) helped me to be pro- active. By staying close and paying attention I was there to catch the start of the NT, and in many cases was able to nip it in the bud - sometimes by interrupting her sleep, other times by talking to her in her sleep. One morning she annouced that I was her hero. She had dreamed that the Scary was coming and when it heard my voice it ran away.
3) Stress, anxiety and being overtired all trigger the NT episode. Before we found that out, my daughter would do everything she could to 'not go to sleep'. The bed-time ritual would get dragged out into a 2 hour affair (and stress was high). Then she would lie in bed trying to stay awake, eventually falling asleep exhausted. She was scared to go to sleep. These conditions usually led to an episode of NT. The next night she would try harder to not go to sleep - a downward spiral resulting in regular nightly episodes. Reading these advice colums together, my daughter was able to recognize the paradox and break out of it. Now she has (and follows) her own rules about not going to bed upset, not letting herself get overtired and not being up past bedtime.
4) I read somewhere about 'uncovered feet'. It struck me as an odd remedy, perhaps because it seemed so far removed from the brain(where the problem lies), or perhaps because it's so much cheaper than head doctors and medication. We tried it, and it works! No feet tucked in. No socks. Often the 'nip in the bud' is nothing more that pulling the sheets and blankets off her toes. Some mornings my daughter wakes up with cold feet - a small price to pay for a night without terror.
During this time, my daughter also became obsessed with lighting. They had to be 'On', all of them, or as many as she could lobby for. We all slept (after a fashion) with the lights on. She also became fearfull that we would 'move her' while she was sleeping, and again we had to reassure her several times each night that we would not. Somehow we figured out that she was aware of her sleepwalking, and believed that she needed the lights 'on' so that she would be able to see where she was going. 'Not moving her' was all about her waking up somewhere else and not knowing how she got there - perhaps by sleepwalking. A scary prospect. This was causing stress, and we know that's not good. We now have a standing agreement that if we need to move her, we wake her up and let her move herself - and I mean really wake her up, with sitting in the kitchen, having milk and a cookie and reading a few pages out of her favorite book.
We're both very motivated to find solutions that work for us. Working together has brought us much closer - she's my hero too. I've been writing in the past tense because I think (I hope) that the worst is behind us. I still walk the halls at night, looking for dragons to slay. I still catch my daughter sleepwalking, though not as much as before. Our home is getting darker at night, and we're all sleeping a little better. Thank you.
In regards to night terror advice. My son has experienced night terrors since infancy-he is now 9. My aunt also had them in childhood. We have found that 90% of the time if we place him in front of the toilet, pull down his jamies and tell him to go, he will relax enough to fall back into normal sleep. We have rarely been able to actually wake him. He is prone to have them when he is upset/worried about something, but equally prone when very excited about something. He never remembers them in the morning, but can be tired and grumpy the next day. I have found it necessary to inform key people (babysitter, teacher) so they can be aware when he has bad days. The night terrors also come in series, when he'll have several in a row, and then go a time without one. It is best to always remain calm (at times very difficult)and talk in a soothing voice. I do not agree with one parents advice to have your child sleep with you. That is not good for marriage, or for children. Additionally, movement of someone else in the bed could cause a night terror. Be on the look out for other behavior problems, such as anxiety, including nervous tics. My son has a nervous tic (clearing his throat) that occurs more often when he is having a series of night terrors. I am convinced they are inter-related.
I read with much interest all the comments about night terrors and found the one that suggests cooling the feet of most interest. As we all know, you keep a baby's head and feet warm as thats where you lose body heat, so if you are over heated and having a night terror, cooling the feet would help. When my grandson was having NT, it was suggested not to have him over heated in bed, and that helped a lot with how frequently he had one. Of course as we know other things trigger them, as stress and being over excited before going to bed. My grandson is now 10 and seems to be over them but his little sisters, aged 2 and 4 are having them on occasions.My daughter now knows how to manage/try to prevent them.Thank you for all the information, I will pass it onto my son who now also has a 2 year old daughter suffering from NT.
My son has had night terrors since he was a toddler and is now 12. It is usually when he is ill or if he is overheated in bed. I agree with you all that it is one of the most terrifying things that we can experience with our child. I feel his heart racing and getting faster, his eyes wide open and pupils totally dilated. He is absolutely terrified of something in his dream and it makes you feel useless because you are trying to save them from whatever it is.
As everyone says, I cool him down with a wet cloth, pull down his bedding and talk to him trying to calm him. It seems like they last an eternity. I will definitely try uncovering his feet next time.
One night he seemed so out of control I panicked, even though I had been through countless night terrors with him before. I actually slapped him across the face (not too hard) because he was absolutely hysterical. It didn't work I might add. We still just had too ride out the terror. When he eventually woke I asked if he remembered what the dream was about and he said he couldn't remember but he did remember a sudden pain to his face - I said sorry mate, that was when I slapped you. We all laugh about it now!
He has the flu at the moment and we actually had 2 episodes last night. I am dreading going to bed tonight, I feel like just sitting next to him in his bed and try to protect him if he has another one tonight.
I have never looked this up on the internet before and I am so glad I have. Now I don't feel so alone and know that it is not dangerous to the child. Somehow knowing that though won't really make it any easier to endure.
This website is a life saver. It has been two weeks and finally I reached out through the internet. My 8 yr old son has been having NTs, and it's been awful. Finally I observed the patterns, exactly an hour into sleep. It's summer, and he has no schedule, goes to bed lates, waked early. He has no memory of these events. We have been trying to wake him by splashing water on his face. That worked, and then didn't, so we started using a mist bottle, which works. Shouting made it worse. Cold cloth to the back of the neck helped. Going to check out that foot thing!
But check this out! Last night, I crawled into bed beside him 50 minutes after he went to sleep and waited. Sure enough, eyes popped open and he sat up. I gently put my arms around him, said, "I'm right here", and he laid back down. I was out of there in 3 minutes, and that was it. A great relief from the screaming and hitting at his eyes we'd been having. So maybe a little circumvention does help! Thanks!
Hi I have a 9 yr old son who has suffered fron night
terrors for at least 5 years. At first my husband and
myself did'nt know what the heck was going on we thought he
was having bad dreams, then one day I was watching Good
Morning America (or one of those shows) and they had a
special on about night terrors and had the boy and his
mother on the show and they showed footage of an actual NT
happening and it was so strange to see my sons nightly
actions taking place on tv with another young boy. Everyone
is so right you feel so helpless to your own child when
this is occuring. But I have tried a few different tactics
that I have read about-like waking him up about an hour
after he falls asleep, having him use the toilet when he is
having an episode, cooling his feet or uncovering them
after he falls asleep-because I do notice he sleeps really
hot, putting his hands is cool water. I am so thankful for
seeing that show and for looking up NT on the computer to
see of there was anything out there on the subject. So I
want to give a big thank you to the Berkley parents for
their web-site. I also love to read everyones stories and
suggestions what a great idea to do this. Good luck to
everyone who has a child who suffers from NT as my son
does. I will continue to do the different suggestions that
I have read about although he doesn't have tham as often,
as before so maybe he is growing out of them. But I also
agree with the fact that if they are worriers, anxious, or
stressed that they occur more so than not because my son is
the biggest worry wart there is....very unlike my daughter
who luckily doesn't and has never had a NT. Dawn
My a 6yr old grandson has had NT since he was at least one yr old. If he is very warm while sleeping he will always have a NT. He likes to sleep uncovered and just in his underware. The other day my daughter took him to his pediatrician for his annual exam. She mentioned his NT's and his pediatrician doesn't think it is NT. His reasoning is while he is in his screaming thrashing stage he is saying go away, or don't do that, etc. The doctor said in a real NT the children do not verbalize anything. His therory is it is a type of migrane. He is thinking about sending him to a pediatric neurologist to be studied for sleep disorder. I find this very strange. My question is have any of your children said anything during their terror?
I hate to put this child through anything unecessary. The talking is the only thing the doctor is going on.
Hello. My 2 year old daughter started having night terrors at about 18mos old. Then we could calm her with bringing her into bed with us, after awhile, I could just reach my hand into the crib and hold her hand and she would calm, and then they disappeared. The NT's have begun again, she starts screaming hysterically between 1 and 1:30am and again between 4:30 and 5am. She will not begin to calm until I pick her up, she grabs on for dear life and will only 'sleep' if I hold her, her Daddy isn't even good enough. She was always one who cries if her blankets are off, so overheating isn't it. But what I DO think is the problem---she had general anesthesia both last fall anf last week for surgery, but is it the anesthetic or the surgery memory????
My 2 year old son was just "Diagnosed" with NT. I since have read A LOT about it as well as talk to other parents and friends. One friend told me her best friend who is 33 still has them and has had them since he was 2. She said something that caught my attention. This friend of her's is clausterphobic. So when he feels trapped at night it is triggered. A simmulation to what most of you are saying and makes since. Putting the child's feet in cold water, leaving them uncovered, etc... Re-enforces the fact they are not trapped. Possible makes them feel like they are outside. I had wondered before if my soon my have a fear of small places because he doesn't like certin types of restrictions. Examples, his crib, playpen or a car seat we had that the sides came around on. He also really doesn't like closets or elevators. So thank ALL of you for helping me to figure this out! You have just given us our nights back!!! :)
Our 3-year-old son has been having night terrors for about 6 months now and it is the most difficult thing for us to deal with because we feel so helpless. I have found this website to be most useful with giving advice and support. I will definitly try keeping him a little cooler at night, especially the feet. Looking back, many of the NT's occurred during warmer nights, as well as a change in routine. Thank you all for taking the time to share your stories and experiences. Judy
Regarding talking during night terrors. My 7 year old daughter first had a night terror at about 18 months. She didn't have another for several years. This summer, for the past two weeks, she's had one nearly every night, about an hour after falling asleep. She calls out "Mom," and screams. She also says bits of sentences, like "no, I don't want to...." and "I have to find....." then she starts screaming and slapping the air, or me if I am holding her. It lasts about 5 minutes, then she settles back to sleep. At that point, she sometimes wakes up with no recollection of the event. She had another just 1/2 hour ago. I was with her the whole terrifying time. I asked her afterward, did you have a dream? "Yes," she said, "I dreamed about the most beautiful pony." "Was I there?", I asked. "No, you were asleep." "Was Dad there?", I asked. "Yes, he was making me breakfast." I don't believe her responses had anything to do with the NT, which really puzzles me. Maybe that's part of not recalling the episode. Maybe she was remembering a real dream from the previous night? I wonder if there is a personality profile? My daughter is intuitive, observant, and a worrier as well. Thank you for all your postings, it has been so helpful.
I was a child who had night terrors for about 2 years on and off. At one point they started to become more frequent. My father put an old radio in my room and turn it on real low. (an oldies station) Never had a night terror after that. I think it kept my mind busy with the sounds? I slept with the radio on until I was about 20, and now being 32, I still know all the words to the oldies. It worked for me, give it a try.
Good luck. Trevor
i cant tell you how good it was to read about everyone. having felt so isolated. living in England it seems resourses are non existant. my Dr tells me in 18 years he has only come across 6! my son has a history of bad sleep times whether it was not wanting to be on his own(only child)or often waking or sleepwalking.last year age 7 he has his first terrors.every evening for about 6 months.then they tapered off. nothing for 6 months, then bang, on the 8th July they began again which has led to a every night, 2 a night life.i am desperate for help.nothing has changed except the end of a school year(could be that)i do all keep cool,uncover feet, be there when they begin,cool flannel. i have yet to try feet in cold water(seems harsh) this time (episode) he knows he is having them, he knows about the screaming, running aroud, what he doesnt remember is the content?! this has led to a hatered of bedtime and a hate of himself because he does not want to have them.Bless him. i read somewhere about induced labour, which i had, any ideas on that? love to hear.
My 6yr old daughter started having night terrors six months ago, I would say she had one or two a week normally about 60 mins after falling asleep. She is currently having them nightly, probably due to the heat and school holidays. She is a worrier and gets very irrate if she does not get her own way (spoilt some people would call it), we are working through this at the moment but her attitude is new to us as she was always polite, quite placid and easy going. We have tried all manner of things, cool feet, cold water bath to put feet in during terror, keeping bedroom ventilated, we have spoke to her about it but has no recollection. She was very upset to see me one morning with a split lip where she jumped up into my face, I now try not to go too close as she seem's to have adult strength when going through this. What I have found that helps is like Trevors notes before me, If I Press Play on her cassette recorder relaxing music is heard by her I do not need to approach her!
and she calms down almost immediately, sometimes she does a second little cry out, but generally falls back to sleep and I let it play until the tape ends. I hope this helps for someone else & continues to work for me as I do find it hard to live with. At present I would not consider getting in a babysitter or having her friend to sleep (Yes sleepovers have started at this young age!) until we have a long spell without this. Good Luck to us all, Tina...
Last February, 5 months ago, my then 18-month-old daughter started having what her pediatrician calls night terrors. She has had them every single night since the first one. Hers, however usually start about 4 hours after she goes to sleep (around 12:30) and last until 5:00 or so. They occur every hour or, like two nights ago, every 10 minutes (I'm not exaggerating.) I've tried every "trick", I've untucked and uncovered her feet, I've run her feet under cold water, I've let a light on, I bought her a noise machine, I've brought her into our bed, I've let sleep in her brother's bedroom (luckily, he slept through it all.) Nothing is working. It doesn't seem to be bothering her during the day but my husband and I are running on very little sleep. Any more advice? Thanks.
Just found this website today..for the past 3 nights my son has been experiencing night terrors combined with sleepwalking. He is 8 years old and has never had this problem before. He is walking down about 15 stairs to get to our back door, which he has opened. The only thing keeping him from going outside has been the chain on the door. After the first night we proped a chair up against the door, but he moves it out of the way with no problems. It seems that when he can't "get out" is when he starts screaming for me! He has no memory of this the next morning and even asks me why I am sleeping with him. I've read all the letters on this webpage and I'm wondering if anyone out there has found night terrors in children related to starting a new sport? My son has just started football and school starts in a couple of days. These are the only things that could be considered stressful in his life right now. He is very active in sports (Plays baseball, does wrestling in the winter) so he is used to the physical part of football. I just can't think of any other reasons for him to be experiencing night terrors. Would love some input and will try some of the recomended "cures" on this wabsite. Lori
My daughter, now 25 months old, has been having Night Terrors since she was just a few months old. We didn't know about Night Terrors and were horrified in the beginning. Reading the comments on your web site has made me realize that she probably is hot or slightly feverish (still teething). The most recent Night Terror was two days ago. She would not take her usual 2-hour nap at 1:00 p.m., so by 6:00 p.m. she was exhausted and fell asleep on the couch. I moved her to her bed where she slept another 15 minutes before the Night Terror began. I picked her up and brought her into the den, sat her on the couch, kicking and screaming the whole time. As usual, she didn't say any words, but was pushing me away as if I were the Boogyman. However, this episode was different because she moved around. She threw all the pillows off the couch. Then she got up and hid (standing) behind a dining room chair. I just watched and let her scream. After about 45 minutes, she came out from behind the chair and said, "Mama home." This was confirmation to me that she was not aware of her Night Terror nor of my efforts to help. For the next Night Terror, I plan to attempt to put her feet in water or wet them down with a wet cloth. We'll see how that works.
Tried the feet in water trick. It worked. My daughter woke up fully within about three minutes and was back to sleep shortly thereafter. Doesn't seem to have any memory of waking up. Thanks for the tip.
We have a 3 and a 5 year old son. My 5 year old never had night terrors, but recently, within the last 6 months our 3 year old has been having these terrifying episodes approx.1 to 2 hours after falling asleep. He sits up in bed, or whereever he is eyes open wide, fixed stare, screaming crying, thrashing around wildly, lasts anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes and then he falls back asleep. We pondered if it might be a seizure activity of some kind, but now, after much research on NT, I am sure this is what it is. He is completely unresponsive to my calling out to him or trying to protect him, and cuddling or carrying makes it worse. once he awakens, he wants to be cuddled and falls back asleep exhausted with little accurate recollection of the episode. I plan to try the wet feet suggestion next time, it seems like it will shock him into reality. I have definately noticed it happens more when he is overtired or he falls asleep in an unusual place besides his own bed.
My son began having NT at age 5 years,he is 7 now. We we're in an automobile accident that put him in the hospital. He had one that very night. We took him to a therapist, waste of time and money! Sometimes he goes a couple months without one, then all of a sudden he has them for several weeks. In reference to the grandmother asking about speaking during a NT...my son usually speaks. This week he has had two episodes. During one he said "that scares me", during another he said "it's you!". I've never really known what to do except hold him and try to soothe him. He has never been violent, he has tried to get away and get out of the bed. One night during a really long NT he woke both of us screaming and crying and my husband tried to console him and he kept backing away from him and wouldn't let him touch him...he acted like he was a monster. It was very disturbing. I have noticed they seem to occur when we let him stay up too late or he is really excited about something. And I noticed too that he is sweating profusely when these occur. I apprecite everyone's story and advice. this has been the most helpful website I've visited. It helps to hear other stories...good luck and God bless these children.
My youngest son has suffered from night terrors since he was about 3 years old. It really scared us the first time! We did not know what to do when he would start screaming and rocking back and forth, arms flailing in the air, calling out "daddy, daddy" at the top of his lungs, sweating, and acting as if he was being attacked. We spoke to his pediatrician and learned that he was suffering from night terrors and indeed they are "night terrors" it is horrifying to see your baby in that condition especially if you don't know what is going on. We read everything there is on night terrors. The following worked for us, please try it! Don't cover your child with many blankets or excessive clothing for the first part of the night, if they happen to fall asleep on the couch or some other "safe" place in your house "do not move them" let them sleep, because we found out that when we moved our son within an hour after falling asleep and took him to his bed, it was a sure thing that after we laid him down, we would hear his screams within 5 minutes or less! Also when your child begins with night terrors, sooth him and place a cold compress on his head and on the back of his neck and rub his feet with a cool towel, this will wake them up slowly, and comfort them as much as possible. I would sing the ABC's to my son because that's one of his favorite songs. After my son goes through his night terror he is completely exhausted and does not remember a thing, and falls back into a deep sleep. Since I have tried to keep him as cool as possible for the first part of the night, the night terrors have become less frequent, maybe only once a month compared to every week. We have installed a cieling fan in his room and only use sheets to cover him, and he also sleeps with no socks. Keeping them cool really helps! Of course I would get up during the night and checked on him and after the first part of his sleep I would add a blanket and he was fine. I hope this helps.
My son is 5 years old and his night terrors have turned into a nightly event. Looking back, he's probably had this since infancy, but because the NT were so infrequent, I didn't think anything of it. I should mention that both my husband & I have a history of sleep walking & possibly NT when we were younger :( Guess our son didn't have a chance! I see some people talking about heat and stress/excitement as a possible factors for bringing on NT. Our weather has been unusually hot this summer, and he had been doing some traveling this summer to visit his grandparents. When I read the part about the child being claustrophobic it reminded me of something my son had said during one of his last night terrors. I took him into the bathroom to splash a little cold water on him to try and wake him up (he was running around my room and I was afraid he might get hurt). This did NOT help and he began thrashing around even more. He said the he needed to get out of there, and that he couldn't breath. He sooned calmed down and went back to bed. Of course I didn't! We decided to try something different last night. My husband woke our son up about 45 minutes after he fell asleep. He kept him awake for about five minutes, then let him go back to sleep. He didn't have a NT thank goodness, but my husband was a little tired this morning. We'll try some of the other suggestions if this doesn't keep working. Rhonda
My 3 1/2 year old had her "worst" NT last night to date. It lasted approx 20 min.+/-. She has had alot of "trauma" or maybe Post-traumatic Stress within the last year ie. death,house fire, birth of sibling and a move. I became worried and have been searching the internet all night. A person told me it was not fear-related but psychological. This upset me tremedously. Upon reading these messages, I have been reassured-Thank You!!!! I then called my sister and see said 2/3 kids have had NT' s and expects the third too when he turns 3 or so.
My daughter will be 2 yrs. old next month. I am not certain that she has NT, but from everyone else's accounts, it certainly sounds like the same thing. She has had maybe 10 of them, starting since she turned one. She has recently had several of them within the last few days, and I suspect that it may be because we have just moved her into a bed (from her crib). She likes the bed and wants to sleep in it, but I imagine that there must be some stress associated with making the adjustment. She has always moved around in her sleep a lot, so most of the time she sleeps without covers, even in winter, and she has never seemed to wake up from being cold. I am going to try putting her feet in cold water during the next episode (or maybe her hands). It is awful to lay in bed trying to fall asleep, wondering how long it will be before you have to face your screaming child? I wonder if the "Terror" part is more reflective of how the parents feel after an episode??? It is very helpful to read other parents' accounts and advice. Thanks everyone.
My daughter started having night terrors at age 7 following kidney surgery. it took years before i discovered what was really happening. in reply to the parent whos doctor said children do not verbalise - my daughter says similar things but they are not directed at me. My daughter has just turned 12 today. She still has the occasional terror almost always following a stressful time or when over tired. At their worst they occured nightly and lasted around 45 mins. she jumped furniture, hid under tables etc. she has also tried to leave the house a couple of times. I used the waking therapy for 2 weeks and then stopped. her terrors stopped too and since then only occur now and then. Many of the web sites do not explain that the waking therapy does not need to happen indefinatly and i didn't get her out of bed. I got a cold flannel, stroked her face with it, sat her up slightly and tlaked to her until I was satisfied she was really awake then settled her down. She was older and she understood why this was happening. one other thing that has helped us is understanding that even the slightest sound or movement at the wrong time of night can set off a terror. I never go into her room or make noises near her around that time. As she has got older it has become easier to settle her. i think that getting in there when the terror first starts is important. at the slightest moan or grizzle i try to talk to her and settle her back once she has woken up.
Thank you all for sharing your experiences and suggestions for coping with the Night Terrors.
Last night was the first episode. My 21 month old daughter started out by quietly whimpering in her bed. This has happened in the past, so there was no immediate concern on mine or my wife's behalf. Then the crying began. So I went into my daughter's room, to comfort her, and found her sittig up in her bed. I reached over to pick her up, and then, her entire body just stiffened and she began to scream. Needless to say, I completely freaked! I had no idea what was happening. I picked her up, but there was no consoling her. She flailed and screamed (that blood curdling scream). After a few minutes passed of trying to ease whatever discomfort she was experiencing, we then realized she was not even awake. We called the Pediatrician's office ( who, can you believe it, forgot, on this particular night, to switch their phone system over to the answering service). So there we were, utterly helpless. We were going to take her to the hospital, not having even heard of the Night Terror s before, and made arrangements to leave my eldest daughter with a neighbor. I dropped my eldest off at the neighbors while my wife got my youngest ready to go, and by the time I returned, it was over, and she was sleeping soundly. Of course, the rest of us were up for the duration. So, when she woke in the morning, at around 5:30 or so, breakfast was ready, the cats were fed, the beds were made, the house was dusted, the lawn was mowd, etc etc etc. All kidding aside, it was a very frightening experience for all involved. Your sight, however, has been and invaluable tool for understanding the experience of last night -- and, yes, it happened agan tonight; hence my foray onto the internet. I'll try some of your suggestions for minimizing the experience. Whoever thought that the ol' college prank of dipping someone's hand or foot in cold water while they were sleeping would actually turn out to be a positive thing in parenthood? Good thing she's still in diapers, I suppose.
I had mild night terrors as a young child that continued into my late teens. I did not thrash around or have hallucinations or see bugs as many people do, but I would wake in a panic on a regular basis and spend sometimes hours of the night in a state of terror, either falling back asleep and waking repeatedly in terror or being too terrified to go back to sleep at all. I found that keeping a radio on or the TV on and even the lights if I felt uneasy about sleeping in the dark helped tremendously. I am 27 now and I still sleep with the TV on. A couple of years ago I tried to sleep with it off once to see what would happen and I awoke about every 15 minutes in terror until I turned the TV back on. I think that the noise keeps my mind from wandering to wherever it does when I have the terrors. Jennifer
My (nearly) 4 year old son recently started waking at night time, screaming, thrashing (alternated with going rigid) and yelling 'mummy, mummy, mummy' over and over again. Sometimes he says he wants things (such as toys, a drink etc...but if given to him they don't help) and other times he says things that I can't quite distinguish. Sometimes the episodes last 10 minutes and sometimes much longer. They are nearly all associated with being very hot and sweaty. My son keeps his eyes closed the entire time and towards the end of an episode he is able to communicate with me a little (while sobbing). I've tried different tactics but none seem to work much at making him feel better. At the moment I just try and hold him and reassure him. Do you think that what he's experiencing are night terrors? Until now I've thought they were just tantrums. I find them very emotionally/physically draining, particularly when several occur in one night. Katie
My 3 1/2 year old had her "worst" NT last night to date. It lasted approx 20 min.+/-. She has had alot of "trauma" or maybe Post-traumatic Stress within the last year ie. death,house fire, birth of sibling and a move. I became worried and have been searching the internet all night. A person told me it was not fear-related but psychological. This upset me tremedously. Upon reading these messages, I have been reassured-Thank You!!!! I then called my sister and see said 2/3 kids have had NT' s and expects the third too when he turns 3 or so. Stacey
My daughter has had night terrors for as long as I remember she is noe 9. Two or three times a week she will cry out shout or just talk uncomprehensible rubbish. I always talk back to her reasuring her that I love and she will go back to sleep. However, last night she could have caused herself significant halm. I was in bed when she suddenly shouted out, as I got out of bed to see to her she screamed and yelled, flew out of bed and ran out of her room to the top of the stairs in shear terror and panic.I grabbed hold of her and yelled at her to wake up. She was kicking and screaming in terror.When I got her to wake up She new she was scared but had absolutly no recognition of her terror. She spent the rest of the night clinging to me and both of us totaly shaken up.(my son slept through it all).next time she could fall down the stairs does any one have any advise? Katy
i have a 9 month old who has had a few nigt terrors. his first starting at 5 months while he had a cold . he had one tonight and there was nothing i could do but hold him and that still did not work . i was scared worried and almost in tears as was my wife. we hads no idea what was happening untill i did a search and found this sight. i will try the tips in here and i thank you for them.
BUT the thing i am worried about is no one mentoins the start if these untill 18 months or later and with us thats not the case. i am glad that i have some info on this now and i just wanted to share that it happens earlier for me than 18 months for all those other parents that are worried about there little baby.
thank you for this sight and your help.
Hi,our 5 1\2 yr. old son has had night terrors since he was about 3yrs. old. We have gotten his night terrors lasting about 1 to 2 minutes tops! They used to last alot longer. We turn the lights on and I quietly keep asking if he wants mommy to hold him and he'll either keep crying or finally say yes hug me and go back to bed. But, we definately ask questions and make sure he answers them correctly, that way we know he is fully awake then we let him go back to bed.Otherwise we found if he wasn't fully awake he might have more episodes that night. It is'nt half as scary anymore now that we have figured out his solution. But I've found every child has different reactions, just keep trying something till you find yours. Good luck, hope this HELPS somebody else!!!! Lori
My 6 year old daughter suffers from NT just as many of you have described. Something that we've found that stops the terrors is to give her Children's Benadryl before bed. When we do this she does NOT have night terrors for that night. We don't do this everynight since we don't want to medicate her all of the time, but we do give it to her if she had a very busy day (overtired) or was having a sleepover at a friends house.(so she wouldn't have a NT at someone elses house) It works like a charm. Susan
My son turned 5 yrs. old two weeks ago. He has been waking and screaming and freaking out in the middle of the night every two to three hours every single night since he was a year old! This has always been a major concern of ours, because it frightens me to death, and has been mentioned every time we visited his pediatrician and his heart specialist and no one ever mentioned the possibility of night terrors.
Today a grad student in child psycology from Kent State University told me to check into night terrors, and I found this website - it explains exactly what is happening to our son. Thank you for enlightening me and giving me hope that he will be o.k.!
I have Just started to look into this. My daughter is 7.5 and has been having what I called bad drams for a ong time going on 2 yrs. now. I am not sure if they are NT or not. She goes to sleep fine usually with her tv, her closet and bubble light all on and would rather have the bedroom light on as well. She sleeps well up untill sometime between 12am and 3am, then she comes running and shaking with fear into our room where she stays the rest of the night. Over 90% of the time she remains awake untill it is time to get up she is so scared. She seems to be okay during the day and not to tired, it does not seem to interfer with school or any other activies. All though it does take a toll on my husband adn I. Any how I still am not sure what this is if this is NT or not. We have consulted with the Ped. and have tried a few things not much works at this point. I know this is not a web site for help but at this point any advise would be great. My daughter has these 7 days a week!
all the time. Are they NT?? Can you give any suggestions? Desperet to know what is going on. Please feel free to e-mail me anytime all of your help will be much appreciatted. Thanks Melinda
Hi, our daughter is now 6 and has had maybe 10 night terrors in her life. She doesn't scream, just cries and calls for me even though I am holding her. My big question is this...do any of your children also experience breath holding spells? My daughter has since age 1 and still does. During these she can't breathe and passes out. I am wondering if there is any correlation. Thanks
I read a post from Jacqui in which her grandson/daugter? recently had general anesthesia and was wondering if the anesthesia played a role in NT? My 1 year old son just had tubes in his ears last week under general anesthesia and coincidentally, has started having NTs. He was a great sleeper before his surgery. Perhaps you're on to something Jacqui. I really believe that my son's anesthesia had an effect on him - I hope it goes away soon!! Either that or it's one heck of a coincidence. By the way, thanks for the great website!!
I can see after reading comments from this site that NT are different from child to child. My son, 7, has had NT for the last year. My husband was working late and I had to deal with the 1st one alone. I was freaking out because I had never heard of NT before. His body is ice cold, stiff, and his eyes are wide open. He was seeing something, I could tell, but what? He was upset and wailing his arms as if he was fighting. I tried to wake him and hold him tight. He did not fight me much. I finally woke him and he did remember some of the "dream". I did not talk much about it and kept him in the bed with me. The next day I remembered about my cousin (30 something now) and his dad (almost 60) still have these. My cousin, as a teenager, would get out of the house and go to neighbors' houses. They would just tell him to go home and go back to bed. I have found with my son that he gets out of the bed and tries to go. We have a door at the end of the hall that makes a
loud noise when he opens it. We then pick him up and put him in the bed with me. He is ice cold and is looking around the room, usually saying "no". I cover him up to warm him and in a stern voice I say "lay down, go to sleep, you are o.k.". I also turn all the lights off. When the lights are on, he looks in that direction. When the lights are off, it seems that he cant find what he is looking for. This, so far has helped. I agree with the person who asked their mom to wake them up right away. I dont want my child to experience the "terror" any longer than he has to. thank you, Angie
It was very interesting reading what you parents do to try and lessen night terrors, it can be very disturbing to parents. I have worked in sleep medicine for a number of years, not a doctor though. I have done some work with children and am concerned how some symptoms being described here may not be sleep terrors but seizure disorders or sleep apnea. Especially, when there is rigidity,pauses in breathing, and happening throughout the night. It is becoming more recognized that children can have sleep disorders and especially sleep apnea. I suggest that if the children have any pauses in breathing, these NTs happen often or many times throughout the night, they get evaluated by a sleep specialist, and preferrably one with pediatrics specialty. I give all of you much credit for going through this and hope these events come to an end, or at least, less frequent. Mary
My 3 year old son has had night terrors for about a year and his first was the most frightning thing I had ever seen. His eyes were wide and dialated and he was clutching me so tight and trying to climb up me. He kept screaming about crocodiles, and his little heart was beating so fast. The thing about his night terrors are that they are not a continuous 30-45min episode. They last for 5-10min of thrashing and yelling and then he calms down and hugs me for about 5-10min, starts to breath like his going back to sleep, and then starts thrashing and yelling again for 5-10min. During this whole time his eyes are wide and dialated, and this cycle lasts for 1-4 hours, about once or twice a month. He wakes in the morning exhausted. I feel so frusterated and helpless. His twin brother sleeps like a stone, thank goodness, because he refuses to leave his bed. I will definatly try putting his feet in cold water and using a warm wash cloth, anything that will help him. Alicia
I have a 1 yr old boy who started at the age of 4 months with night terrors. As a doctor I suspected of terrors but almost all literature mention the ages of 3-5 yrs old.
But sometimes when I know my kid may have passed thrugh stress i give him 1 ml of Panadol before going to bed. Also he never goes to bed stomach empty. That helps too. He still have NT but now are less frecuent.
Hope this helps, Clara
In relation to the messages about children who are breath holders (whether caused by NTs or not). Try blowing into their face when they are holding their breath. I attended a first aid course where they suggested this technique. Apparently this sets up an instinctive reflex in babies and young children to breathe again. Katie
Our 19 month old son has night terrors from time to time. We found that if we give him his favorite thing in the world, his bottle, it wakes him up right away. He drinks it and then goes back to sleep after we sit with him a little while. Cindy
My son has been having night terrors since he was 3. He just turned 4 last month. He will groan and whimper at first. If I can get to him before he starts crying I can usually calm him by rubbing his back. If he starts crying it is harder to get him calmed. Sometimes I will walk in his room and he will just be sitting up in bed. When he first started having terrors we didn't know what to do. The harder we tried to comfort him the worse he would thrash around. We had to talk calmly to him from a distance. He has gotten to where he will let us comfort him without putting up a fight or trying to back away from us lately. He went a while without any terrors, now they have come back. My husband and I are so sleep deprived, but our son seems normal during the day. The terrrors always occurr at the same time, a couple of hours after he goes to bed. On some nights he will have them all during the night. I have asked him if he remembers having bad dreams and gotten diff!
erent responses. One time he mentioned something about monsters. Most times he doesn't recall the terrors. He does try to prolong getting ready for bed but for the most part will go right to sleep when he is ready. My husband and I were both sleepwalkers when we were children. Thanks to all who have posted on this site and good luck to all of you, may you sleep well soon! I think these terrors are more difficult for parents than for the children at times. Traci
I think this is a great site and comforting in a way to know that we are not the only ones. My 2.5 year old son started having night terrors a couple of months ago. He had two last night. However my son's night terrors don't happen after he goes to sleep, they are earlier in the morning. Also my son just screams no over and over again. He looks like he is having the ultimate temper tantrum. If I touch him he gets worse. Does anyone else have children who have night terrors in the early mornings?
My 8 year old is having night terrors every night 1-3 times per night. Im not familiar with this and am very scared. I feel that it can't be healthy to be scared to death night after night. Pediatrician said not to worry he'll grow out of - how can I not worry. We're tired and want this to go away!
I first posted advice on this site in August 2004 where I recommended playing music to calm the child down once the night terror had started, this for some reason did not continue to work for me. What I now find works is once I know my daughter has gone to sleep, I will quietly go up and pull her door nearly shut so that she has a dark & peaceful room. I think hearing a sudden noise at the wrong moment in her sleep cycle or seeing a shadow of one of us walking by would start this off. She does sometimes call out as if she is going to start a night terror but at this moment I am finding this is working and we have had one night terror out of 9 nights instead of every night,sometimes it was even twice a night. I am surprised there are so many comments on this site, which is comforting, but maybe this is a sign of the modern,busy world we are in? - ps. I did at one point think it was a dairy intolerance, so especially stopped milk at bedtime for a number of nights but this also did not work for me. Tina
I have a 3 year old daughter named Lauren. I think she frequently experiences night terrors. She goes to sleep in her bed every night, but always crawls into my bed around 11 or 12 o'clock at night. When she is in either bed, she frequently cries out in her sleep kicking and screaming. It's as if she is crying, but rarely has tears. It is hard to wake her up when she does this. If I try, she just gets more upset. Sometimes I can hold her and she will calm down, but she will usually start getting upset a few more times during the night. She will sometimes say there are spiders on her or worms. She goes to preschool 5 days a week for 8 hours a day. They take naps there, but they can't get Lauren to go to sleep. Do you think her night time episodes might have anything to do with that? She has also been very tired and cranky since these started. I think she is not getting enough good rest at night, because of these episodes, and it is effecting her emotionally and p!
hysically. I am not sure what to do about helping Lauren with this major problem. If you have any advice, I would greatly appreciate it.
My daughter is 2 1/2 years old. For weeks she has been waking up in the middle of the night with her arms and legs kicking about. She appears frantic. She yells and as I try to pacify her and kicks and bites and pinches and scratches me. Up until now, I thought she was just being difficult. I read this website and it has given me so much insight on this situation. I actually feel very badly now, that I did not think perhaps something is wrong with her. This child does not get that much sleep..ever. I wonder if lack of sleep causes it. I don't feel she can rationalize that if she doesn't go to sleep she won't get a nightmare. I feel that lack of sleep may make her more vulnerable to these "terrors." This website is a wonderful resource for me and other parents who may be experiencing a child with "night terrors."
Just another story about Night Terrors and I'm so glad that my husband and I aren't alone. My son is 3-1/2 and has a NT every night. I did notice that if he is kept cooler during the night, he won't have a NT. However, during his 3 hour nap in the day, he sleeps great. So why does this only happen at night? And, why when he sleeps at someone's elses home, he doesn't have one? I'm confused like the rest of us, but need some sort of advise as to how to stop this. Before I break a leg or arm running up the stairs to be with him. Help?!?!?!
My daughter began having NTs before she was two. We moved when she was 4 and our new pediatrician prescribed Clonazepam. It worked wonders! She still had them occasionally if she had a high fever. Anyway, now she's 11 and hasn't had a NT in forever (& she's off the med.), but she's started sleepwalking. Tonight she woke up inside the van in our garage and didn't know where she was. I can't help but wonder if there's some link between NTs and sleepwalking.
My son is 12 and just starting having these "night terrors". He is very acitve with sports (baseball, football, cross country running & wrestling). I'm not sure if this would cause the dreams he is having. Should I not be concerend and let him just grow out of this? Any suggestions would grealty be appreciated. Patti
Our son is almost four and has experienced night terrors since he was 10 months old. At first they were occasional and now they are nightly. We recently had a sleep study done, which indicated he may have sleep apnea. Tonsils and adenoids were removed ten days ago and he's still having these horrible episodes. We're optimistic that this may reduce the frequency of them, if in fact he was struggling with obstructive apnea. We're committed to giving it some time, being the surgery and recovery has been somewhat traumatic in an off itself. However, we're also realistic and the Doctors are too, that we might just need to ride this horrible nightmare out. I can always tell "by the look in his eye" - that its a night terror. Its awful and I pray for all of you who are dealing with it. It does give me comfort to know that I'm not the only mom up disturbed by this at night. God Bless them! Amy
For the past 3 years my son (who is now 4) has experienced bizarre sleep problems. They have never really fit the sleep terror profile until now. Starting at the age of one, he would bash his legs in his sleep against his bed constantly for 1-4 hours a night. (This was a particular problem because he has spina bifida and can't feel his feet, so he could break a bone and not know it). He was never particularly distressed during these episodes and I would lay next to him all night ready to pin his legs down when it would start. He never would wake up. After about 6 months it stopped as abruptly as it started.
Since that time we have repeatedly gone through a more typical NT experience with screaming out/crying in his sleep for periods between 10 min-1 1/2 hours once or multiple times a night. These episodes typically run every night for several weeks to months, then disappear for a few months only to return again about the time we think they're gone for good. I haven't seen any commonality between these bouts. He doesn't seem particularly overstressed or overtired (at first!). He doesn't remember anything in the morning. Is completely uncommunicative during the episodes even if he appears "awake". Last night I got him out of bed and walked him around the house for 20 minutes with the lights on, talking to him, feeding the hamster, drinking a cup of milk, etc. and he never really was awake. It's such a bizarre, surreal experience.
Does this sound like NT's to you? The thing that confuses me is that I've read that they occur in Stage 4 of sleep about 1 1/2 hours after the child falls asleep. His don't typically occur until about 5 hours after he falls asleep (bedtime at 8 pm, they start consistently at about 1 am and last off and on until about 4:30 am). Does this time frame rule out NT's? I'm going to try some of the tips on this site tonight, but would love any input you have.
p.s. He has been evaluated for seizures and of course he was symptom free that day! So the test came back negative.
our daughter has suffered from nt since she was a toddler. she is now seven, and after a period of inactivitiy, the nt's have started on a scale greater than ever. a pattern has developed. since starting school after the summer holidays (autumn term starts beginning of september in the uk) the nt have occured every night except fridays and saturdays (non schooldays following!). she has moved this term from infant to junior school, and has comlplained at how hard the work is in comparison. we are working on the theory that school is suddenly more of an effort, with all the tiredness and stress issues that accompany this. we have found that we have to wake our daughter from her nt which always occurs one hour after going to sleep. this sometimes takes up to ten minutes. after waking she happily returns to bed, and sleeps soundly for the rest of the night. has anyone else experienced school related problems?
My son, who is now 11 years old has had night terrors on and off for the past 7 years. I have read a lot of the stories and appreciate all the information. His night terrors have not lessened in the actual experience. Lately however, I have noticed that he continues to shake his head as if to try and pull himself out of the terror even though he still does not recall having the night terror the next morning. At times, mostly lately, he seems as if he is trying to tell me something but then holds back...I try very hard not to read too much into this. However, there are many issues with his father (we divorced when he was 2)that concern me during his visitation/exeriences while with his father. Experiences and environments that are completely unacceptable.....to what extent I am not sure of at this point.(dilegently working on) I guess my question is, has anyone experienced something similar to this situation that has, as crazy as it may sound, considered hypnotism or other treatments to ensure there arent deeper psychological issues? Thank you.
I'm writing this because I am in search of help for my 19 year old daughter. She has been having NT's for the past year or so. Her screaming wakes us up. I usually go open her door and call her name. She's often in out of her bed or standing on her bed (holding up the wall for instance). She'll respond to me talking to her by getting back into bed and going back to sleep. Often she won't remember it in the morning, but sometimes she does.
Wondering what we can do for her? BP
My 8 year old 1st started having NT after he broke his arm. He was pretty scared when it happened and then started having the NT 2-3 a night for about a week then they stopped. Last night our dog (chihuahua) was hurt in my sons arms and she had a seizure, my son was really scared again and then last night had another NT. Could these tragic events be the cause??? Anyone Else??? amy
My daughter is 4 years old. We have been giving her breathing treatments since she was an infant because she would wake me up by terrible gasps for breath. Until two nights ago, I believed this was caused by allergies making it hard for her to breathe. However, these episodes only happen at night and never while she is awake. I try to wake her up, and I plug in her machine and administer her medication. During these episodes, she will NOT wake up until she is good and ready...and then, in a dazed way.
She whimpers, cries out, then struggles to breathe in and scream at the same time...to the point that her chest will practically cave in with the effort of taking in air. She sweats and is cold and clammy with eyes shut or half open.
My Daughter, Megan, had night terrors from the time she was 2 till about 8 or 9. Though frightenning, I was raised with a sister who was a sleepwalker and treated her the same way. In a loud calm voice I would say 'Do you need to pee? Do you want a glass of water? I would repeat till she seemed to hear me and calm down, then either take her to the bathroom or get her a glass of water. though she calmed down,she was still asleep and as with most other parents writing here, when asked, she wouldn't recall what had happenned in the AM or what she might be afraid of.
She is now 15, and been fine since the last night terror...till last month when she had two 'Panic attacks' in one day. I call them that, though they act more like seizures. She is fine, going about her day, then suddenly can't breath. She hyperventalates for about 10 minutes, calms down and then begins to shake. Her face is flushed, she has a minor rash on her neck and back, and she is freezing. We cover her in blankets, she goes to sleep and wakes up barely realizing what has happenned.
She had 4 more attacks last week. Does anyone out there have a teen child who had night terrors, who is now going through the same experiences??? Elizabeth
Our daughter, who is 6 1/2, suffers from something like
night terrors. She doesn't have the most severe
symptoms, as described in the literature I've read.
Generally she yells out, moans and thumps her
legs--sometimes for long period of times and often
several times a week. She is hard, if not impossible, to
wake up during these episodes. She also sweats and
kicks off all her covers. She seems cheerful and
well-rested when she wakes up, and can't remember
any bad dreams. We can't tie these episodes to
anything in particular going on in her life. During her
waking life, she is a bright, well-adjusted kid. It bothers
us greatly to think that she's struggling during her
sleeping life. It's hard to listen to her distress. Any and
all advice is welcome. Thank you.
Our daughter is 3 years old and began having night terrors around 6 months old. This was shortly after she had 2 serious surgeries beginning at 4 months, and being out of the hospital by almost 6 months. The terrors began shortly after coming home. She was scared of everyone but her immediate family, and we associated this with having been touched and poked etc. by so many nurses and hospital staff. Her surgeries were of such a nature that she could not be held and the only touch she received was not particularly nice or gentle as it was concerning IVs etc. All we could do was talk to her over the crib rails. By the time we could hold her again, she would stare blankly at us for the most part thus ripping our hearts out. Prior to all this she had been very cuddled and nursed and was used to being held constantly. Once the terrors started they have not stopped. She flails, hits, screams, kicks, she is very violent. If we speak to her at all she yells at us....No mommy, no daddy, or her sisters name who sleeps in the same room. If you touch her it gets worse. I want to try a lot of these things that are suggested but I am afraid to touch her. I just talk soothingly to her and once in a while it works. I pray for her sake that she outgrows this. She, like many others does wake up the next day in a bad mood or still tired. She never remembers anything though. At least not yet. I hope it all stops before she does. This site has been so helpful and I just wanted to add my story. Thank you so much. Heidi
Hi, my daughter is going to be 3 in December and I think she has night terrors, her pediatrician says she does but they will go away with time, she is my first child and its really scary. She will be sleeping and then all of sudden she will get up, with her eyes open,and she will cry and cry unconsolably and she will say things like look! take off my ballon, or she will mention a family members, or family freinds name. She says normal things like I cant take off my hat, or where is my macaroni or things like that. I did not know she was asleep, so I even spanked her once, but then we realized she was still asleep and this just made it worse. We have no idea what to do, or how to calm her, but apparetly she feels more secure when my husband comforts her, when I talk to her and try to reassure her, there is no response (usually) but as sson as my husband comes in her room and starts talking softly to her, she starts calming down. Is there anyhting that helps with this, after reading some of the responses on the web site, to other moms, Im even more scared that this could last all the way until age 6 or 7. I dont know if I could handle that. Another thing the Dr. told me is that, this is usually seen in very bright kids who are ahead of their time is this true? HELP ME!! and its not really because I want to get sleep (although it would be nice) but I feel like it would be nice for her to have a peacefull nights rest. She also dosent like to nap during the day anymore, and she ALWAYS wants to be doing an activity of some sort. Like I said, she will be 3 but she speaks fluent spanish and englis, she can count to 30 in both languages and she knows the ABC in both languages, I dont know what other kids this age knows but she keeps wanting to get more books and wants to do alot, would this be affecting her at all? Nora
I have a 12 year old son who still experiences NT. I know exactly how all of you feel - SO hopeless. My son began to experience NT at about 18 months old and was diagnosed at about 3yrs. When he was very young (2-4 yrs) he would have NTs anywhere from 1-20 each night. I dealt with this while I was pregnant with my next child, who does not experience any NT at all. At that time I would try to hold him tight (I didn't know any better) and he would kick and hit me, trying to get out of my clutches. My doctor told me he would outgrow it by age 5 or 6 but did not.
Over the last 2-3 years the NTs have lessened but with age he remembers more and more of what has occurred. He will tell me about them in the morning. Yes, he talks during his NT although usually it is nonsense or jibberish and always wants to get outdoors. Last week when he had a NT he told me in the morning that he remembered having one and that he wanted to get outdoors to see the moon. I wonder now if that is why he has wanted to get outdoors all the other times. We had to get ADT security because we were afraid that he would go out one night and we wouldn't know.
He does not, especially now as he gets older, necessarily scream or make any noise but you can definitely tell he is very scared and acts almost as if he is trying to hide from whatever it is that is scaring him. I have found the triggers for him are 1)fever 2)stress 3)excitment 4)going to bed too late 5)heat. He mostly gets out of bed during a NT so I get up, put on the lights, try to convince him to use the washroom - this works 99% of the time. I talk calmly to him and try to get him to watch TV and find something that he might like on TV (for young children, turn on a calming video or taped TV episode). While he watches TV he will calm and within a short amount of time he will be awake and tell me that he realizes he had another NT. We usually cuddle on the couch for a few more minutes and he then wants to go back to bed. I know that his NTs are not as severe or as often as they used to be and I hope he outgrows them. I hear that some people never do.
Thanks to everyone for sharing their stories on this site, it will definitely benefit someone else.
I really appreciate this web site. I have been myself terrified over what is happening with my son. He is now 20 months, but has been having what I guessed were night terrors since 8 months. I asked the pediatrician about it, but she completely dismissed it. Maybe she has no experience with it. For a long time I agonized over what we were doing wrong as parents to make him feel so horrible as to have a night terror. I found that they come and go, but had found no glaring "cause" of the problem. In the last 3 days, he has had 4 NT's. Last night he had 2 in one night. I am going to follow some of the advice I read about not putting him in footed PJ's and see if that helps. He also has a cold right now, so maybe it's that. My husband thinks this is all silly, but I will do just about anything to keep my little boy terror-free. On another note, being that this is hereditary, my mom was just diagnosed with fibromyalgia, which stems from problems during stage 4 sleep. I have read
a lot about it, but I don't know if there have been any studies about the two being related. It is just beginning to be widely recognized as a disorder. But I am going to be super vigilant about watching my son for symptoms. It includes chronic aching without explanation, among many other things. Please look it up if you think it may be a factor, it is also hereditary. On another note, Fibro is related to ADHD, according to the books I've read. Funny, because I am sure my husband has adult ADHD. Our family is strongly opposed to medicating our kids for every little thing, as some docotrs are anxious to do, so we are trying to find natural solutions. I will give the feet in water and no footed PJ's a try. Sabrina
I have a 16 months old son who I think has been having NT for months now but I have only just worked out what was wrong. I will hear him screaming in his bedroom like he is being murdered and I pick up out of his cot where he continues to scream and struggle until I put him down and this continues on for anywhere up to 40 minutes or so. They have been such frightening experiences as I have had no idea what was wrong with him and have thought he must be sick. In the last few months they have gotten really bad where he will sometimes have 3 or 4 a night with usually the first one being the worst and the following ones beginning with him crying and then moaning for around 40 mintues or so. He usually seems to have them at around 12am and then on and off untill about 4 or 5am.
I am so fortunate to have found this website because it has confirmed to me what is wrong even though my doctor has said he is to young for them and it has given me so much comfort to see that other parents are dealing with this nightmare as well. I have taken all of your adivce on board and I agree that it may have something to do with being overheated and/or being over tired or stressed.
I have only had a couple of hours sleep every night for the last few months and was despertate just to get a full night so last night I gave him some drowsy cough medicine before he went to bed which did the trick. He did have one at 4am but it only lasted a few mintues. I also put him in jammies without feet and took his sleeping bag off him so maybe that might also have helped. Possibly he has been over heated all this time as I don't remember it happening in the summer months. Where I live we don't experience very hot summers but the kids still sleep in summer jammies even if its not that warm but in winter they are in footy jammies and sleeping bags and our houses are well heated.
I just want to thank you all for you stories as I now feel like I am not alone with this problem and at least I know now that I am not the only parent dealing with this and I some remedies that I can try. Thankyou.
Its a great relief that so many other parents experience this same problem with their children of various ages. Both my sons 7 and 5 have had night terrors, most recently my 5 year old who I thought was possesed. He would start my getting out of bed, crying and talking to one of his toys, which I threw in the trash because it freaked me out, I brought him out into the light out of the room. He was very aggitated walking around on tip toe and terrified, crying big tears, covering his mouth and looking past me around as if he could see something I could not.
This is the second time this week and both times, going to the bathroom snapped him out of it, he went back to sleep almost immediately. I found this interesting that a couple of other parents said the same thing. Good luck everyone, and thank you for this website, I feel encouraged.
My son is 6 years old and has suffered from nightterrors for three years. The good advice? It has lessoned. The bad advice? You need to find out how to lesson them. Try your best to find out anything they can remember even if it is just a feeling. My son saw a type of man with a cape flying through his wall trying to hurt him. My solution was to post a funny hankerchief over the point of entry on the wall. The nighterrors lessened for a long time. We found we had to wake him up as soon as possible. If we waited too long he would stop breathing. This needed to be achieved in any way possible. We found the faster we woke him up the more he could tell us. We also had to be as calm as possible. Each terror is unique. Your not the only one out there and take confort that it will end. As a parent we can only get through it any way we can. Mary-Ann
I am so greatful to have found this website, I just have to say! My 2 1/2 year old daughter has started having night terrors in the last couple of months, starting off with a few here and there, and now they are starting to happen more often, and she even had one during an afternoon nap! It always freaked me out, not knowing what was happening. I didn't even realize that she wasn't awake! I hear her crying upstairs, and when I run to her, she's out of her room standing at the top of the stairs. When I start towards her up the stairs, she turns around and runs back into her room screaming, and shuts the door and pushes on it so I can't get in the room. When I do get in, she runs into her closet and turns her back to me and screams, like I'm a monster! I just thought she was grouchy because she was awake but still very tired, and throwing a tantrum. I'd yell at her to stop crying and tell me what's wrong, but she doesn't say anything. I try to hug her and she frantica!
lly pushes me away. I even got so angry once I spanked her on the bum to try to snap her out of it (not knowing then what was going on). Now that I have read all of this information tonight, I am so happy to know that it is very common, and now I know what is going on with her and how to deal with it. Thanks to EVERYONE for their helpful stories, and thanks for this website! Julie
I think my 12-month-old daughter had a NT last night. She woke up crying a couple hours after going to bed, and was inconsolable for about 10-15 minutes. We took her temperature (normal) and checked for spider bites (none), tried nursing (she bit me) and rocking, singing, etc. She just cried like she was in pain and wouldn't be consoled, which is not like her at all. My husband suggested she might be having a NT, but I didn't think babies her age had those. Just as I was thinking we'd better call the doctor and expecting to have to take her to the emergency room, she calmed down and let me rock her, as long as I didn't sit down. After 10 minutes of that she let me sit down and nurse her, then fell back to sleep. She startled at a couple small sounds before falling asleep, which seemed to confirm that she had been frightened. Today she seems fine, more fussy and clingy than usual, but was babbling and doing her normal thing.
Thank you for the comments other parents have submitted. I'll try the suggestions, but mostly it's comforting to know other kids do have NT at her age and we're not alone! Heather
My grandangel has been having night terror since he was about one year old. my question is we planned to get him a puppy to help him get comfortable to animals. would this be helping him or worsen the problem?
Our daughter will be 3 years old soon. About a month ago she was sick with a virus. She woke up one night screaming. It was like she was looking right through you. We were very concerned because during this episode her hands were shaking. My husband and I were frightened thinking that something neurologically was wrong with our daughter. After the virus went out of her system, she had not had a episode like I mentioned above. However, this past week she has had 2 more episodes. I am convinced now by reading this website that what she is experiencing with these tremors and screaming is Night Terros. She woke up tonight and she kept crying saying "mommy hold me, hold me" and I was holding her tight. During the NT she does talk. I was holding her in front of the tv trying to get her calmed by watching Barney and she screamed "I need to go potty". I took her to the potty and she went. I asked her why she was crying. She said she wasn't crying. Within 1 min. she was in a deep sleep. I just thought it was amazing how one parent said that going to the bathroom relaxs them and then they are fine. It worked for our daughter. I am convinced now that it is a NT. I am going to try to keep her cooler at night. Do they usually only occur once a night? Lynne
Last night my 10 year old daughter had a NT that was so scary for me and her that tonight I am dreading her going to bed. I've read through a lot of the comments and haven't seemed to see any like hers. I would love to hear from anyone else who has experienced this. My daughter "woke up" scared and crying, she made her way to the bathroom and sat on the toilet. I tried to console her and then she seemed to really wake up. She was still crying and talking about the voices and dizziness and being confused. She couldn't tell me what the voices were saying they were just confusing her. Finally in my own bed she calmed down enough to fall back asleep. But at 7:00am in the morning she woke up again crying and talking about the voices. She seemed to be trying to get something off of her. I was scared to death. After sitting up in my bed for 10 minutes (to afraid to lay back down and sleep) she finally decided to get up for the day. By the time she was eating breakfast she was fine, but she did remember everything except how she got into the bathroom. Does anybody else have kids who hear voices. This really bothers me. Thanks for taking time to read about my fears. Dawn
My son has had these terrible terrors since ha was a few weeks old. He is now 5yrs old and still having them. He is now walking around in his episodes. I am a very scared for him. He will call out to me, he will also say things like dont let him get me, dont leave me mom, he will have blood curtling screams, shake, swing at the air. I cry over not being able to help him. although i stay very calm with him and talk to him i usually cant go back to sleep and am afraid he will get up during the knight. He tells me he is afraid of the dark and wants a light on i do have a knight light on but i read some place it was not good to have a light on. I took him to the doctor about it but he did not think it was any concern. I am lost, scared and tired. I want to help my son, Any suggestion on books or doctors too see? Bobbie
My daughter has been having NT for 4 years now.They started when she was three and she is now 7. We have tried everything, although I have not tried the cold water on the feet yet?We have to put chairs in front of the doors at night because we have found her in the front yard screaming.She has ripped all of her posters off of her walls, hit my husband and I numerous times while trying to calm her.Some times she just remembers the dreams(never the walking around or screaming)and they are very terrible, usually someone she loves getting hurt, someone breaking in to her room, or monsters. She does not do it everynight, but it seems worse when she is stressed out about something, and with her that seems to be alot of the time. She is a very overly sensitive child. We are working with a counselor to help her deal with her stress, mnaybe in a different way. (I hope) I have now had three doctors mention medication. I am totally against it, but we are getting tierd and I am begining to wonder if it would help her .I am concerned about her, she is very clumsy and a little on the hiper side, they are finding out that these things might be related to her not getting enough REM sleep needed? Has anyone out there ever tried medication of any sort for this ?Just curious, and willing to try anything we have not already.I will try the cold feet thing tonight.The doctor we are seeing now has also mentioned neurological testing? Has anyone experienced this either? Monique
O.K....here are a few different suggestions that worked for my 4 year old
daughter. First of all, I think her main problem stems from not getting
enough rest. It is virtually impossible to get her to take a nap and when she
goes to bed at her scheduled time seem almost more tedious. One would
think if she didn't have her nap, this would be of a more easier task.......nope!
;} Anyway, my doctor told me to give her a children's antihistamine an hour
before bed time for a week to help train her body to go to sleep. Of-course
you should check with your doctor first. This was recommended to help her
fall asleep not for the NT. Also I find she sleeps better when the t.v. is on, I
turn on cartoons low volume AFTER she falls asleep. I guess the sound and tv
light makes her not feel as scared if she were to wake up in that NT mode.
When she does have an incident, I just talk softly to her and offer her favorite
thing which in her case is strawberry milk in a tipy cup. This has always been
her security blanket since she was a baby and it calmed her down
immediately. She wont even drink it half the time just falls back to sleep
clutching on it. It seems to help to have the ceiling fan on low also even if its
a bit cool. I just know by my experience that air curculation helps me sleep
so why not. Hope this helps ;} Christine
Our daughter seems to have many of the symptoms mentioned here , but not all of them. She is 2 1/2 and goes through spells where she starts crying 1-3 hours after going to bed, then maybe one or two sessions in the same night. The sessions last about twenty minutes where we pick her up, rock her, try to sooth her, & gently try to wake her up. She doesn't wake up or respond to these normally comforting behaviors, continuing to cry - sometimes worse. What makes me question whether this is genuine NT is that her eyes normally stay closed & she does not get up out of bed or even sit up. She will grab our necks when we go to pick her up, but keeps crying and not respond to voice.
It seems to happen in "streaks": happening every night for a several nights up to a week or two, then off for a week or two. She doesn't nap during the day.
Another behavior that I heard mentioned once here is that she sometimes "stiffens" up: fully extending her arms over her head and stretching her legs out in opposite direction. While doing this she is crying and her eyes are closed.
She has a milk allergy, so we are looking into possible problems because of that (maybe calcium deficiency)....
(Editor note: also see Morris' 2008 follow-up below
My seven year old has just recently started having night terrors they occur every night and last up to an hour each time. I came up with an idea l brought an indian dreamcatcher from a gift shop and told my son it would help stop his bad dreams and l have found it a great success, they havent stopped alltogther but is only having them four times a week roughly.
Is it possible while my son is having the night terror that he could hurt one of my other children? l have a small baby in the house. leigh-ann
Our 2 1/2 year old daughter had her first night terrors last night (at least we think that's what it was). She woke up 5 or 6 times throughout the night with typical symptoms.
I believe factors may have included:
1. Still recovering from a virus which included moderate/high fever (although she didn't have a fever at the time of the terrors).
2. Being over-dressed for bed and having too many covers.
What seemed to help:
1. Waking her up completely--we took her downstairs and let her watch a favorite video, another time let her look out the window.
2. Removing some of her covers. I wish I'd realized it and I would have switched her heavy sweat pants for some shorts.
It was frightening for my husband and me. We had no idea what to do, especially because she didn't respond to us at all. Even a cold, wet wash cloth didn't wake her up. We're glad to see it's not abnormal (although sorry for all you people who have deal with it).
I have a 12 year old who has had night terrors since he was around 6 years old. He don't know if he fully wakes up from them, but he can understand what i'm saying. He gets this glazed-over, confused look. He says he's very scared, but can't explain what of. Other's people's movents freak him out, like when I sat on his bed, he said "stop moving so fast, stop moving so fast", he says that when anyone talks including himself, that it is very loud, like we are srceaming. Objects are zoomed in towards his face and are distorted. His head also hurts when this happens and he cries and says he feels like his head is going to explode. This only has happened maybe 15 times in his life, but it is very scary for all of us. HE is completely fine in the morning and remembers a little of what happened about half of the time. Robyn
My 4 1/2 year old daughter has had 'nightly' night terrors since she was two yrs old. They occur after an hour or so after she falls asleep. They last 10 - 20 minutes (sometimes longer). She cries, thrashes around, eyes open, kicking and screaming. She doesn't remember a thing afterwards. If we try and console her or move her, it gets worse, so we HAVE to leave her alone. We've tried picking her up and taking her in another room, waking her up, singing songs, talking to her and nothing seems to work. My husband and I are just plain exhausted.
The ticket is that if she has a nap which lasts about two hours, she doesn't fall asleep until 11:00/12:00 midnight and then doesn't get a night terror. If she does not have a nap, she gets the night terror. So it's a catch 22 with us....take a nap, go to bed way late and no terror or no nap and goes to sleep at 8:00 p.m. and get a night terror. This leads us to believe that she is over exhausted. When you work the next day, staying up until midnight isn't very appealing. :)
A friend suggested to wake her up after an hour nap, but that leads to a night-terror, too. So, doing the waking-up method before the REM isn't going to work either. We are just totally and completely stumped. We hear what everyone is saying. We read all of the articles, but we still don't feel like we are getting the answers. Maybe it's time to look at a sleep clinic. It's our last hope. We've got two other kids. My 11 yr old never had them. My 2 1/2 year old sleeps with us because she can't sleep through the episodes. Our whole family is disrupted because of this "thing". Help ! - Heather
My son stopped napping over the summer and lately his night terrors have gotten worse. Could they be linked? He will be 3 in March. Michelle
My name is liat and my 5 years boy is having a night terror.
I kindly ask to have any advice how to react when it happens and also to know how it ends (how much time it takes till this situation stops).
My seven year old grandson, Clark stays with us a good bit. He has had two night terror episodes at our home and several at his parents. His parents recently divorced. Last night he ate spaghetti and pineapple for supper, got in the hot tub for a very short time, went to sleep and awoke screaming, jumping and then ran all through the house, sceaming no, no, no and stop, stop, stop. It was terrifying and we were scared he would hurt himself. Finally I stopped him and shouted his name loudly and then he allowed me to began to calm him down by holding him, even though he was still rejecting my arms. I believe it must have lasted about ten minutes. What should we do if this happens again, the runnning around the house really petrified my husband and me. Anne
My seven year old son began having night terrors after having
surgery a year and a half ago. The first night after surgery he
awoke screaming, running throught the house, and throwing
himself against the wall repeatedly. He then had them every other
night or so for a few weeks. They tapered off to once a week and
eventually to once or twice a month. Although they are less
frequent, they seem to have become more intense. They usually
start with him getting out of bed and coming down the stairs, he
walks into the family room somewhat dazed and then begins
crying, followed by screaming, jumping up and down, running from
us, eventually allowing us to hold him and calm him for a minute
and then becoming terrified and screaming "Mommmy, Mommy,
Mommy..." even when I am holding him. He wrestles to get away
and you can tell by the terror on his face that he does not
recognize us. Last night he had one that lasted fifteen minutes and
he kept getting more afraid. Finally we were able to wake him and
calm him. He fell asleep in my bed and had several other episodes
that were a fraction of the first - just very restless sleep, talking,
sitting up, struggling, teeth grinding. Do mulitple NTs happen very
often? Any advice??
My son is 20 months old and has had "night terrors" off and on since he was 2 days old. (The first one he had was 2 days old and still in the hospital) I have read most of the stories on this site today and feel a little better that I'm not the only one but still feel utterly helpless as there seems to be no real answers and all cases seem to be so different. I also can not put any rhyme or reason to the terrors, nothing seems to be a common link. Typically it starts 1-2 hours after he falls asleep. He does not sit upright, only gets stiff as a board. He screams blood curdling screams, trembles and shakes and cries big tears. He is never awake during the episodes nor can we wake him. We have to ride it out. They can last anywhere from 3 to 15 minutes. At first he seemed to have at least one a month (I feel lucky after reading that some kids are having them nightly!) then he didn't have one for a few months until Christmas Eve (12/04) This latest one was probably the worst, the blood curdling screams were more prominent and he just appeared to be truly, wholly, petrified of something. I have also noticed in the last few episodes he has had he has started twitching slightly after he finally goes back to sleep. In finding this site, I have also found another site with some VERY interesting information that I had not read before or anywhere else. It makes a great deal of sense and seemed to give me a clearer medical understanding of it. The site is: www.drgreene.com/21_155.html. If this link doesn't work for you, try going to the website manually (www.drgreene.com) and typing Night Terrors in the search box, then click on the "what are night terrors?" link. It should take you to the question "What are night terrors and why do children get them?" question submitted by Grace Montenegro, Fremont CA. I know this is mostly the Berkely area, but if anyone out there is from the Antioch/Brentwood area and would like to commiserate via email!
, please email me at shessler AT sbcglobal.net
I posted an earlier message about another site I found - www.drgreene.com. Since reading from that website I have started doing internet searches for "confusional arousals" and "parasomnias" and "sleep arousal disorders" (make sure you search for SLEEP arousal disorders, if you search for just arousal disorders you get all sorts of other info you probably don't want if you know what I mean! This has definitely been worth checking out as well. All sorts of other sites have come up with descriptions matching what my son (and your little ones) has (have) been going through. Heidi
My 11 year old son has had night terrors for as long as I can remember. I have noticed a few factors that play a role in the onset of a NT. If he has any physiological discomfort (eg: Needs the toilet, tummy cramps, too hot etc) during the first 2 hours of sleep then he is more prone to having a NT. We se the method of gentle talking and use a cool wet cloth on his feet to wake him up gently (but we always advise him beforehand that we are going to wipe his feet with a cloth - no surprises). Since we have been waking him up with this method, he is able to tell a little of the NT to us. He says that during the NT it makes total sense but afterwards when he is awake it is as if there isn't language to explain it. He says it is as if two things collide and this problem cannot be rectified but the problem is a catastrophe with huge consequences. During the NT he begs for help "mommy please help me, please mommy" and he can be held and comforted for short periods but the terror is so overwhelming that his urge to escape it, makes him move around the room and then come back for more comfort. Stress definitely plays a role in the frequency of NT. We have also noticed that if we move him or touch him within the first 1 1/2 hours after he has fallen asleep that we can induce a NT, just by carrying him / or touching him. I sing, talk, promise the world (puppies, toys etc) anything to get his mind off it and use the wet cloth on his feet. We never let him fall asleep until he is completely out of the NT; That is after he has made sense of his surroundings and talks to us. Because of his age he will say to me now "Mom it was another NT wasn't it, this one was so scary mom, the same thing, out of control, no words to discribe, it is so frightening, I still feel like I am shaking inside." My son then is exhausted and falls asleep with us. DEBRA
It is reassuring to read the histories of other parents' experiences and various attempts to deal with these night terror episodes. I'd like to share a little of my own experiences and actions.
Our 8 year old son has had night terrors for the past four years and I can identify with most trends reported here. When he is agitated, overly tired, or experiencing periods of flu-like symptoms he has a tendency to experience a night terror. The frequency is intermittent but seems to run for two or three days in a row when they occur. He has actually had two in the same night as well. Generally, our son wakes up screaming and crying. He does not respond to verbal commands to wake but does interact in normal tone discussions such as calling his name and asking simple questions unrelated to his night terror. He often flexes his stomach muscles rigidly and acts as if in real physical pain. The episodes have lasted as long as twenty minutes but the faster we can intervene the less severe and prolonged the episode. We had good success in leading him to the bathroom and asking him to use the toilet. This seems to have the effect of bringing the reality of his situation to the fore and making the terror episode subside. Lately however this technique seems to have become less effective. The second technique was to bring him downstairs and turn on the television. He does not actively watch the television but it seems to create an environment the stimulates several senses at the same time and he settles rapidly. (His feet are uncovered and it is winter time with the heat turned down at night as weel.) After he has finished with the night terror he rapidly goes back to sleep and has no memory of the event nor displays any behavioural problems the next morning.
I hope that these comments can add to this database and offer support and guidance to any parent dealing with similar situations at home. Anecdotally, some of the night terrors have resulted in interesting family stories of the discussions that we engage in during the episode and our son enjoys hearing them.
My son had night terrors similar to most of these entries--about an hour after going to sleep he started screaming with eyes open and was inconsolable and I couldn't wake him. These started around 18mo and lasted 4-6 months. He had bad allergies and we had him on Dimatapp. Once we stopped the medication, the terrors stopped and have not returned. He's now 7 1/2 years old.
I just found this site and could use some advice. My almost 3-year-old son has occasionally, since infancy, cried briefly but hysterically during the night and fallen back asleep on his own. He also frequently wakes from naps crying hysterically and takes a long time to settle down. Last night, he started screaming and thrashing at about 2:30 a.m. When my husband went to check on him, he told my husband he was afraid of the monsters in his room. Is this a night terror? My husband said he seemed to be awake. It took about 30 minutes to ease his guttural cries, but then he was wide awake and ready to play - he did not seem to remember being afraid at all. There was no coaxing him back to sleep, although he did fall asleep on the way to preschool this morning at about 8:00. Any information, guidance, suggestions, would be much appreciated!
My son is 9 now and had NT for about 4yrs. I have found that really monitoring what cartoons and video games he plays may have some impact as to weather he will have a NT or not. No more pocimon or mario mantion game allowed. this has slowed down the amount of NT. Also I don't let him eat or snack to close to bedtime. For the kids of this age I really think that what is on tv and the video games has a lot to do with it. I always call his name in a firm voice and tell him I'm here,I never look right in his face becouse that seems to make it worse but i will hold him and soon he goes back to sleep.
Good-Luck to all the parents out there going through this and thank goodness for this websight! Maureen
I just came across this site via google. My 3 1/2 year old son is having night terrors that are beginning to surface again. He originally had them on occasion as an infant but they just started coming back again very frequently. I took one doctor's advice to wake him up about 30 minutes before they usually happen, but the past 2 nights my waking him up actually triggered a night terror. I don't see how that is possible and it makes me question this method. If anyone else out there has experienced the same problem, please let me know if you have any suggestions. I have also noticed that when my son goes into a night terror he usually will urinate on himself - but getting him up and taking him to the toilet and making him stand up usually does wake him up and he will go right back to sleep very shortly after. Dawn
THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! To read all of these comments from other parents, with children like mine. My oldest daughter who is now 11 and my youngest daughter 2 1/2 have been the nighttime wakers at our house. It is a huge relief to read very similar details and emotions and feelings and concerns. I am so relieved to have found this site and want to thank you for your suggestions, your ideas and perseverance... I feel like a new woman! Albeit a very tired new woman!! Kim
When my children have any negative experiences I always tend to
try to figure out what I have done or what I can do to control the
situation and not let it happen again. But I truly believe that in the
case of night terrors, we all have very litle control. My seven year
old has had NTs for a year and a half. Like most parents I try to
figure out the pattern - what did I feed him? was he overtired? had
he watched TV/played video games? did we have an argument?
was he agitated at bedtime? etc. etc. This week I have tried to keep
everything on schedule, happy, peaceful with little television,
healthy meals and early bedtime.Yesterday my son was totally
happy at bedtime, we had a nice light dinner, he finished his "not
scary" book, we said prayers, I lied down with him, kissed him
goodnight. He went to sleep with no problems. I thought, if ever
there was a night to be night terror free, this is it! But, one hour
after he went to sleep, we heard the jump out of bed, I went
running to the stairs as he was coming down in a total panic
screaming, jumping up and down, shouting "did they die?!" As
always it was horrifying. We comforted him and talked in a loud
voice reassuring him until he woke up and naturally didn't
I wanted to share this because often there is nothing we can do to
avoid night terrors. All we can do is learn how best to deal with
them and keep our kids safe through them. I think limiting tv and
video games, early bedtime, healthy dinners and peaceful
evenings should be something every house should strive for. But
even in the "perfect home" (if there is such a home!) night terrors
My 8 year old son has been having almost nightly NTs for the last few months. We can not identify any particular event/factor which may have triggered the start of them. My experience of them (absolutely terrifying) is much the same as for all you other parents.
We always ensure he has a nice, calm bed-time with half an hour of quiet book reading etc., but he always wakes me within 1 - 1 1/2 hours of falling asleep with screaming, shouting and crying. I always get to him asap, but he is totally unaware of me being there. He is generally shaking, sometimes sweating, and has his eyes wide open. Sometimes his teeth chatter, and once I found him sitting on the bed of his 3 year old sister (amazingly she slept right through this!), shouting and jumping around.
I sometimes find him running from room to room. I always try and get to go to the bathroom, but even doing this does not make a difference. If I try to guide him back to his bed, he can get even more agitated, so I do much as you other parents in talking to him calmly, stroking his hair etc. He is very verbal during these episodes (which luckily only last appx. 10-20 minutes) and is usually saying things like 'I cant ....', or 'help' or 'he/she is doing this or that...', but I can never really work out what he is dreaming/seeing. He often complains that 'things are moving around' and 'why is everything jumping about?...'
I find these NTs very upsetting and scary, as I agree that seeing your child so terrified about something, with you as the parent being unable to help him, is awful. I too sometimes dread late evenings as you are just waiting to hear the shouting and screaming start.
My husband (who has not yet read this websiteas he!) was getting really concerned and suggesting that he was disturbed and needed help/therapy, which was upsetting. However I will now get him to read this site, which hopefully will reasure him that NTs are very common. It has certainly put my mind at rest that it is normal and will hopefully go away eventually!
I will tonight try the cooling down method and if I time it right - the waking him up within an hour of falling asleep.
- THANK YOU for all the suggestions, it really helps knowing that so many others are experiencing the same thing. Sharon
(from the UK)
My daughter (7) and son (2) both have night terrors. My daughters is accompanied by sleep walking. When hers began, we stopped allowing her to eat after 7pm, let her wind down prior to going to bed and making sure she was in a positive frame of mind. She has vague memories of them now. My son, however, has just recently (in the past year) developed these and we are finding that the methods we used with her do not necessarily apply to him. We did use the cool rag for her. I am glad to have found this site so that I may learn what all of you are doing and that my children aren't alone. I have read many articles on this and it seems it is hereditary or can be. Carrol
My 8-year old son has recently started having what we suspect are
night terrors. I found your site after a quick Internet search and am
so relieved to read many "symptoms" I recognize. My son tends to
run hot at night and seems to have night terrors more frequently
when he goes to bed in pajamas that are too warm. When he has
them, he will wake up - about an hour after he falls asleep - crying
and when we go up to find him, he is often sitting up in bed, wide-
eyed, looking like he's trying to scream but nothing comes out. He
rarely says anything but occasionally I will get a few words out of
him, like "Watch out!" or "I'm scared!" It is truly terrifying to see such
a look of horror on your child's face and not be able to get through
to him. We have tried turning the light on (mostly to calm ourselves
down!) and hugging him (when we can) and telling him calmly that
we're there and that he's safe and just repeating that over and over
and over again. This seems to have some effect. Susan
I have a 6 year old who recently started having night terrors with typical symptoms (waking an hour after falling asleep, wild-eyed fear, brushing something/someone away, saying stuff like "I want to go" etc). This web site has been interesting and I will remove blankets off his feet and get him to the toilet before bed. Hopefully this will help with the night terrors. My reason for writing was to see if anyone elses child suffers from any ANXIETY DISORDERS as well as the NT's. My little boy is being treated (non-medically) for severe OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE DISORDER. He also suffered separation anxiety, shyness and has some phobias (all linked to his OCD and slowly being treated successfully). I can't find anything on the net linking NT to OCD but can't help but think that there may be a link. I am also wondering if there are other patterns linking all these kids together? My boy is unusually bright, his capacity for understanding is extremely high, he walked and talked very early and he is extremely sensitive to what is going on around him. I'd be interested to hear if other parents have kids who have similar traits, and more importantly, I'd love to know if any of the NT kids have any severe anxiety disorders? Tina.
I found your website incredibly comforting. My daughter is 5 1/2 and has been experiencing NT about once every week to two weeks. They don't last terribly long, but they freak me out like nothing I have ever experienced. Being a mother, I am of course prone to imagining the worst. In the back of my mind, I was so scared that something awful happened to her sometime that she couldn't tell me about and it was manifesting itself in nightmares. She always seems so scared and pulls away. She doesn't really lash out physically, but rather speaks nonsense and shakes her head and pulls away.
I can usually bring her out of it by grabbing her gently, but firmly, by the shoulders, telling her it's Mommy, and that she needs to wake up. I know specialists may say that you shouldn't wake someone in the middle of a nightmare, etc., but I can't stand the thought of leaving her in that terrified state. Instinct and human nature take over and I have to find a way to wake her. I appreciated the uncovering the feet idea, and will try that next time.
I don't know of a history of NT in our familes, but I myself have a reputation for talking in my sleep, and my 10 year old has been known to sleep walk. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you, especially those with frequent and/or severe cases of NT. Hang in there. Christine
For the the past several weeks my two year old son has been having these screamming episodes on a nightly bases. Some nights they have happended two and three times. After talking to other parents and not being satisfied that these episodes were nightmares. Today I made an appointment with his pediatrician and heard the words night terrors. So immediately I came home and got on-line to get as much knowledge about NT as possible. Your site was very helpful. Thanks to all the parents who have posted as when I go to bed tonight anticipating that frightening wake-up call I know I can handle it and if not I have somewhere to turn for support and ideas. Thanks again and to all a good night.
What a relief..found this sight having endured two nights of terror. Our son is 7 and he has been experiencing these episodes since a the age of 4-5 and I challenge anyone to hear a more blood curdling scream than one eminating from a child experiencing an NT. This is the first time we have read up about this problem and we are both so pleased to find a site dedicated to NT...we did not even know what it was and even after 30 minutes of reading we feel more than happy about the different stories from parents, than contemplating seeing a doctor.
Our son's NT attacks are sporadic but in series, always about 2-3 hours after bedtime and not always after a day of stimulation or stress. We thought the attacks may have something to do with Playstation use or watching DVD's etc but we could'nt identify any pattern.
What we have done is moved from the "wake up, wake up" approach to a more calming, reassuring style of parenting. We now turn the light on before we go in and a cold flannel appears to get him aware and awake. He never remembers what was scaring him and generally he goes to sleep for the rest of the night.
Once again great site, great views, phew we are not alone !!!
A few nights ago my 16 month old son was screaming at the top of his lungs in his crib. I rushed to him and removed him from the crib and immediately took him downstairs. It appeared as though he was still asleep as he was screaming.
After about 3 or 4 minutes of this, he was very out of it. Almost like he was just a blank shell. I couldn't get him to respond to me and then after about 3 minutes of that, he shook very breifly and then seemed lathargic.
I was so scared that I called the paramedics. I was afraid that he had had some sort of seizure. When the paramedics arrived he was fine and laughing and smiling at them all. They checked his vitals and everything looked okay. Shortly after they arrived they were gone again, but the whole incident was scary enough for me to not sleep again and keep close watch over my son.
I called the docter in the a.m. and he explained that it sounded like he had had a mild seizure, but I am wondering if that is correct. He told me there was no need for an EEG, but I am so afraid for it to happen again, I would like one to make sure. I thought maybe someone out there had had an experience like mine to find out it was a night terror?
My son is 5 and just started having night terrors. They usually occur within 1 1/2 to two hours after going to sleep. When he wakes up he normally calls for me. When I go to him he is shaking uncontrollably, wanders around the house and throws up. This lasts from 15 to 30 minutes. It does not matter if he sleeps with me or not. I tried waking him up prior to this cycle like other people suggested, but I am unable to do so. He may have a couple in one week and then go two weeks without one. He does not remember them in the morning but we both are exhausted the next morning. There are times where I do not know how I function during the day. During all my research I have not heard of another child shaking or throwing up during these attacks. Is there anyone that can relate to this?
My 9 month old son just had 2 identical episodes within 2 weeks. After an
hour of sleep, he woke up screaming as if in extreme pain (he rarely cries,
and never out of sleep). He was not alert, and though his torso seemed
heavy, his lims jerked toward his body in short shock-like jolts. This goes on
for 4-5 minutes; then, though seemingly more alert (though spacey) his limbs
continue to move oddly for another 5 or more minutes. We actually
videotaped the majority of the 2nd episode, and were able to show it to the
doctors. Though it seems extremely siezure-like to me, the Pediatrician and
also the Pediatric Epileptologist believe that it is night terrors. He actually
has had an EEG to rule out certain seizure possibilities. In fact, we went to
the ER after the 1st episode where he received a CT Scan which revealed
nothing. These episodes are terrifying; I still can't quite wrap my brain
around the fact that these are sleep disorders and not neurological ... but I
am trying to convince myself to trust in the doctors who are evaluating him.
Wow. It is great, but sad, to read all of the stories about NT'. My son, 20 months old, just had his first two episodes last night. Since he has asthma and has been hospitalized for it,I first thought asthma attack. But, after giving him a breathing treatment, he didn't stop crying. It seemed like something had taken posession of his body in the 2 hours since he had gone to bed. So, I went off to Children's Hospital's ER (where he was awake, alert, and playing) and after many hours of waiting, they told me what I had expected; that he had had NT's. They gave me a handout on NT's and here are some of the things it says:
1. They are an inherited disorder in which a cihld tends to have dreams during deep sleep from which it is difficult to awaken. They occur in 2% of the children and are not caused by psychological stress. Getting overtired can trigger them. They usually occur in 1-8 year olds.
2. You can help your child return to sleep by making soothing comments, speaking calmly and repetitively. Hold our child only if if seems to help the child feel better.
You can't shorten an episode. Don't shake or shout; that can make them more agitated and will prolong the attack.
Protect your child against injury (walking down steps, running into a wall, breaking a window.) Direct your child back to sleep.
3.Make sure you tell the baby sitter or anyone who will be attending to your child. This way, they will know what to do/care for your child during a NT.
4.Keep your child from becoming overtired. If you need to, start those naps back or at least one hour of quiet time. Avoid late bedtimes. If those child needs to be awakened in the morning, then he/she needs an earlier bedtime. Move lights out time to 15 minutes ealier each night until the child can self-awaken in the morning.
5. Use prompted awakening for frequent night terrors. If your child has frequent night terrors, f or several nights, note how many minutes elapse from the time your child falls asleep, to the onset of the night terror. Then begin awakening your child every night 15 minutes before the expected time of the night terror. Remind your child to "wake up fast." Keep your child fully awake and out of bed for 5 minutes. Continue these pompted awakening for 7 nights in a row. If the night terros return when you stop awakening your child, repeat this 7 nights training program. (This idea is from Dr. B. Lask of London.)
Anyway, based after having read all the suggestions, I ran and immediately removed his socks and put a lighter weight blanket on him. I will try the cool water on the feet and back of the neck. And, make sure he naps even on weekends. Since he is adopted, I can't find out who in his family has this. Bottom line is we both need to sleep and I'm going to try many of the suggestions. Thanks to every one.
I am the mother of three. All three of my children have had "episodes" in the night. I don't think that they are truly night terrors because when my first daughter experienced them she would be awake and talking/crying the entire time. At first she would see animals, then bugs, then eventually it was people. She would get to the point where she would look at me and scream as if I looked like the devil. She would run from me and hide. She would say things like "I'm afraid of that BAD DADDY!" When I asked her what she meant she said that there is a man in our (my husband and I's) bed. When I asked what he looked like she would say "like daddy, but he has a mean face!" After a full day of preschool that next day, when we came home she searched the entire house. When I asked what she was looking for she said. "I'm looking for that bad daddy!" She was three when this was going on. She is now seven and has no more episodes,her last one was probably about three years ago. There was nothing that would make her stop seeing these things. I would take her into the living room with all the lights on and turn on the TV to try to distract her. she would try to watch TV but it was like she would look out of the corner of her eye and see something. She would scream and shake and tell me what she saw. It was absolutely terrifying to me because she was sure that these things and people were there! Oh I forgot to mention that these episodes would last the entire night. Usually from about midnight until 5 or 6 am. I am not exaggerating a bit! I took her to the doctor and he ran a bunch of tests and found her healthy. THANK GOD!!
My second daughter had a similar episode a few months ago but it didn't last as long and she seemed to be able to cope with it better. She's 2 1/2.
Last night was the first time that my youngest (son) 20 months, had his turn at it. He first started crying at midnight, but I was able to calm him back down. A couple hours later he was awake again. This time he was talking to someone or something, my husband went to him and he was sitting up in his bed and talking about a kitty. He then started screaming. I got up and brought him to our bed and he just continued talking about the kitty. He looked at me as if I was the devil and screamed and wouldn't let me hold him. I was up with him the whole night and through the night he started talking about seeing people. He would point across the room and say papa! Freak me out! I don't know what's up with my kids, but I'm not sure it's the night terrors that everyone is talking about. I am open to suggestions. I need some sleep! Doreen
My son is 23 months old, and for the past few months, he would wake up about 2 hours after falling asleep screaming, sweating, and then he would finally vomit. I spoke with our pediatrician about this, thinking that he has a stomach problem, and He told me that he may be having night terrors. He said that becuase my son doesn't have temper tantrums that this is what's happening in place of the tantrums. He aslo told me that telling my son the "story of the day" might help him to sleep better, the story being about his day and the people who experienced the day with him. In my research, I haven't read or seen anything that says that the child would get so worked up that they vomit, and that telling a story would help. I would very much appreciate it if I could get some sort of response regarding this. Jessica
My son has been experiencing NT on and off since he was about 1. He's now 5 1/2 years old. But, here's something new I haven't heard or read about yet and was wondering about. Every once in a while, he'll act like he's having a NT, but says things are getting bigger and smaller. During these episodes he'll talk. One time he even said, 'I just want the drs to make them go away'. He'll tell me things are getting bigger and smaller, even mom and dad. We usually end up turning all the lights on or reading a book or thinking about happy things we'll be doing. Has anyone ever experienced the "bigger/smaller" thing related to NTs??
My 3 1/2 yr. old son has been having several night terrors in one night. Last night he had 4. Is this normal for night terrors. He would awake briefly after each terror and I would ask him if he had a dream and he said no, that's how I knew he was having night terrors all night, as opposed to nightmares. when my son does dream, all he has is nightmares. sometimes he is afraid to go to sleep because he doesn't want to dream. any suggestions, I will gladly take. thank you. Maria
First, I would like to thank you for your website. I have found it very informative.
We have a now 4 year old, boy, who is experiencing night terrors, and it's been very difficult for all of us. They started in September, 2003, and at that time, we were having a hurricane, here in VA. We had no electricity, so the lights were out. We were all in the same room, asleep, and he woke up screaming. My husband and I, could see that he was still asleep, but I can say, he was completely out of control. Yes, I was out of control as well, because, I had never seen him, act like this. It was worse, when we tried to touch him & he screamed for about an half hour straight, we than called 9-1-1. I know some of you may feel, that that was not necessary, but we didn't know what was wrong & we could not get control of him, to calm him down. Heaven sent, was the firefighter, that had come prior to the paramedics. One of the firefighters, had told us exactly what it was, and told us, that he used to have them as a little boy. It gave us a bit of relief, until it occurred again, a few months later. Not only, had we moved into a new home, but my husband, was working away, coming home on the weekends. Well it occurred again, and I was scared to death. I had after the first incident, spoke with his doctor & he didn't go into detail, as the websites has. It just didn't darn on us, to look it up & I am so happy that we have. He had another episode, just last week, my husband, still away. I picked him up, and kept the soft voice going, took him into the bathroom. I took a cold washcloth, and just kind of blotted his face. He was starting to calm down, and I took him downstairs, and offered him something to drink, but noticed he was still sleep. He had stopped crying, and I brought him and put him in the bed with me, and turned the light and television on. He fell back off to sleep. The next morning, he didn't even know, what had happened.
I not only feel calmer now, but, as I have read the information, listed through the expreriences of others, I feel alot better to handle the situation. The information, is so true, because he doesn't like anything, on his feet at night. We also, find that we have a very hard time, getting him to go to sleep, for naps, as well as nighttime. I thank you for your website, once again, and thank all of you, that took the time to send in your experiences, and advice. It's true, you never know, what you or someone can say, to help someone. God bless all of you & I wish for the best, for your child, and/or children. I will check, with my older siblings, to see if I have experienced, my spouse is going to do the same. Thanks again!!!! Kimberlee
At last I have found what is happening to my 6yrs old son, but is it my fault?
My son, I now know, has night terrors, they are extreme screaming, often with very frightened sounding words and panic, they can go on all night, although from reading on this site I now realise I shouldn't try and wake him as he just falls back into them.
The reason I wonder if it's my fault is that a year ago my husband and i split up, my son, daughter and I now live together in a new house and I have a new boy(man)-friend. The children see their Father every weekend and we are all on good terms, they seem to like my new man, although my Son confesses to some jealousy as he likes to have me to himself. Although he doesn't seem stressed, is this situation causing his night-terrors? or is it just over-tiredness? What can I do to help? Sleeping for all of us is becoming very difficult, and we're all very tired! Victoria
My son is 6 yrs. old now and in retrospect he has been having night terrors (NT) since he was an infant. We learned of night terrors from my wife's sister when my son was around 3 yrs old. She's a child speech pathologist and familiar with these childhood issues as well as a mother of 4 children, none of which are perfect. Initially he was incorrectly diagnosed as having growing pains. During his development his growth and even getting his teeth was very sporadic and painful. All of his teeth appeared two at time, not one then the other - two at once. When he was an infant we had him a bassinet that came with our pack-n-play. He was big when born through C-section after 38 hours of labor. I noticed he would get his feet tangled during sleep and become extremely "fussy" and would flail his arms about - sound familiar? After moving him to a crib at an early age these became less frequent and again when they did we attributed them to growth spurts and thought this was "normal".
At the age of 2 when he became more vocal he would wake from naps fussing and grunting running around the house hitting and occasional biting, "must have woken on the wrong side of the bed" or he just a fussy child, or even labeled spoiled. Shame on us. This continued until 4 yrs old and stopped. We thought he "grew out of it".
He is now 6 yrs old (Sept. born) just started Kindergarten and was diagnosed with ADHD. I am very interested to see if any other parents have had their NT children checked for ADHD Attention Deficit and Hypertension Disorder. During his NTs He runs around the house screaming mommy at the top of his lungs shaking his arms and hands wildly and stomping his feet on the floor in a crazed state crying.
Things I've noticed - repetitive sound or "white noise" helps him fall to sleep which avoids the attack. I have been reading a lot online checking every bit of information I can find. One thing I am certain, there is no definitive source of information. I have read many sites that contradict each other. For example don’t wake them, do wake them. Don't cover the feet; do cover them to create sense of security. They will grow out of it at age 4,5,6, pick a number or there are adults with NT. The answer is they will not "grow out of it" but the frequency may lesson as they learn to combat it themselves.
Things that I have figured out so far – talking calmly and being reassuring (actually I think this is for me more than for him) asking simple questions about things he likes helps to bring his subconscious to the conscious. The cold water wake him up approach, I think I’ll try that. Holding or restricting him – MAKES IT MUCH WORSE prone to injury to both him and you. I have closed the door and sat in front of it block passage this created some elevated levels but not too bad and gave him little choice but to sit in my lap or the bed. So far has not resorted to complete fits of violence like throwing things or attacking anyone. When it’s over his heart is racing, he is sweating and exhausted and sits with a stunned dazed and confused look. He expresses no memory of the events and I have not pressed for a description. He has turned on a fan or a radio in his room at night and those nights he has not had the NTs. But note it was on his terms, on other nights when I enforce that the fan be on, he still has a NT. Also falling asleep and being moved has triggered NTs so it is important that we don’t let him stay up till he passes out. When he was younger I used to do the 45 minute regular wake ups after he had gone to bed and this seemed to work in keeping the NT away. I have not tried that recently. Sheesh, I better stop before I fill this board up. Good luck and keep trying. Remember what works for one family may not work for yours. Do what’s right for you and your family. God bless.
THANK HEAVEN FOR THIS WEB SITE! And thank you parents for sharing your experiences. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. At least I have some things to try with my 6 year old son. This is our situation. My sister (41 yrs. old) had them and slept walk 'til she was a teenager, attributed to stress. My son NEVER has been a fitful sleeper. Very agitated, up many times a night, wants drinks all night (in my desperation for sleep as a walking zombie due to lack of sleep) I indulged him as an infant, and now I've created a monster who I am having a hard time breaking of his need for drinks at night. He is not potty trained at night-due most likely to my giving him drinks. He has been having NT's since he was about 3. But perhaps as early as a few months old. At age 4, his pediatritian prescribed an anti-depressant Tofranil (gen.: Imipramine) which I was too paranoid to give him. Looking back, I don't know if that was smart or not. He had a terrible year at school at age 5 and had nt's almost every night for many months, same time, same duration. They went away for about 9 months and out of the blue came back and he's been having them now nearly nightly for about a month. Like some parent's stories, before I read the other testimonials on this site, I thought maybe he had experienced some kind of trauma or abuse at school, etc.(No) Now I see that nt's are a part of him and we're going to have to learn to deal with them. They're not as hysterical as before and I have been having some success staving them off at their onset--but nothing consistently.
He was evaluated for ADD last year and that was negative. (for that parent who asked if any other kids were ADD) I have even tried to give my son a placebo medicine (a couple drops of cold medicine) with water and told him it was NT medicine, which he glady takes, i.e., he knows he's having these NT's and it scares him, but with little success. I thought maybe the suggestion would plant in his brain and prevent them. Not. If a child knows he's having them, do they perpetuate them day after day by scaring themselves into them? Talk or think themselves into NT's over and over again?
But thank you all so much for your testimonials. I would like to know if any other parents have had drugs prescribed for their child's NT's. There hasn't been much said on that. I don't want to drug my child, but if my son knows he's having them and is scaring himself into having them, I wonder what this is doing to him in the long run. Is there a drug out there that won't turn my son into a zombie or ruin his health? Chris
My 9 year old son has been experiencing night terrors from time to time for several years. His symptoms are very similar to those described by other parents however my son will also start gagging and will often throw up during these episodes as well. We are very afraid that he will choke if he is unable to get up in time. Does anyone else have this problem? Other than the vomiting, his terrors seem very similar to other kids. It is reassuring to read about other people's experiences with their children because it is very frightening and not too many people understand what you are going through. Thanks for your website and if anyone's child experiences the vomiting in connection with their NT's could you please write back. L
Thank you for this website -- reading other parents stories is more reassuring than any of the medical sites I've been exploring. My son is 7 years old and for the last two nights he has experienced what I now know is night terrors. The first night he woke up screaming and beating his pillow and bed, my husband got to his bedroom first and tried to comfort him. When I walked in the room he screamed "YOU YOU YOU KILLED ZOE(his sister)" I tried to calmly reasure him that she was fine and sound asleep down the hall -- finally I led him to her and let him touch her. When we talked to him about it the next day he was embaressed and "ashamed" but didn't exactly remember what happened. The next night he woke up screaming that "the wood was stolen(non sensical)" and the next 5 minutes he ran around the house proving this statement out... it would have been humorous if my husband and I weren't so terrified. I've slept with him the last two nights and I'm exhausted from lack of sleep and worrying myself sick that something could be wrong with my beautiful and intelligent son. We are attributing these episodes to his health, he has had the flu and has been running a temp for the last 4 days. Denise
When I was younger, like 2-8 I would get horrible night terrors and still occasionally do when I'm serverely over tired (I'm now almost 16). Occasionally when I was around 6 my parents could wake me up and I all I remember is being covered in a cold sweat, shaking, and being held by either my mom or my dad, both of which looked terrified. One time it happened when my grandmother was babysitting me and the only think that would calm me down was to let me sleep with my toothbrush on the floor next to her bed. I can't remember any of that but nobody in my family will let me forget that it did happen. I guess my doctor confirmed it was indeed night terrors but he said children with them usually don't remember anything from when they're having these kind of dreams. I do remember that I was terrified by someone holding me through these because I could hear their heart beating. I don't know if thats common but it might be why some children don't like being held anymore than they like being alone durring these. To this day I can't stand hearing someones heart beat. Do the fears associated with the dreams usually become fears even when a child grows up? I've only ever had one real boyfriend but if we're hugging and I can hear his heart I have to move quick because it does scare me. He jokes with me about being crazy and for all I know I am. I saw this site and was just wondering if anyone on here has ever experianced that or has a child that has had something similar. Thanks, Mary
My seven year old daughter just began experiencing what I think are NT. She wakes up about an hour after she is sleeping and seems very panicky. She keeps saying "I need to calm down". She seems to be awake however during this. She also has said that she feels like her hands and feet are big or that the bed is getting big. Trips to the bathroom have helped but sometimes she will wake up again whimpering. She does remember this the next day, unlike many others. Typically, this behavior has always been present when she has had high fevers. Now we are seeing it without. it is very scary. This web site has offered some comfort to me, knowing we are not alone. Thank you for all your information. Donna
Many of the experiences that are discribed in this forum could not describe the events of last night any better. My 10 year old son had what I now know as a night terror. The episode lasted for approximatly 10 minuets and was one that I will never forget. This was the first time it had ever happened. He screemed and indicated that someone was crawling on the ceiling in an attempt to get him. The scheer terror that came from him is difficult to describe in words. After this happened and my wife and I had calmed him down and put him back to bed, I emmidiatly went on the internet to try and understand what had just taken place. I found this site and soon realised that he in fact experienced a night terror. I am very gratful for this site and the understanding that I have now of the disorder. That understanding will help my wife and I cope with the event if it takes place again. The good news is he does not remmeber a thing. I'm sorry to say that's not the case for us.
My almost 3 year old is experiencing night terrors. I noticed them begin at about age two. The seemed to flare up and become more frequent when I tried potty training her. Lately, they have been every night and they are sooo sad! I wondered if if had anything to do with stress and fatigue. She has a new sibling and is now recently potty trained. Last night it was every ten minutes. Thanks to this web site I have a few tricks to try and I hope I can help her. The example of night terrors I read about are exactly what my daughter does. One time I went into her room while she was screaming and she had her pillow in her hand and appeared to be awake but I couldn't get her to respond to me. I am definitely going to try the wetting of the feet and maybe even making her go potty during the terror. I wondered if everytime she wet her diaper,she still wears one to bed, she was so stressed out that it brought on a terror. Thanks for all the encouraging stories. Hearing your child scream, "mommy I need you, mommy, I want my mommy!" is so sad when you can't do anything to help her. I sure hope she grows out of them.
I have a 10 year old son who was diagnosed with ADHD. My son has a very difficult time sleeping at night. I will wake up in the middle of the night and he will be awake, or I will wake up in the morning to find that he was awake in the middle of the night and he has food in his room. I spoke with the Dr. and he insists that my son is just stimulated, I explained to him, there is no TV in his room and I physically remove the light every night. I put him in bed at 8:30 every night and sit up for two to three hours hoping that he falls asleep. His Dr. refuses to think that it has anything to do with his ADHD, and told me to lock him in his room at night. I can't do that he is asthmatic and in case of an emergency he needs to get out or I might need to get in and who has time to look for a key. I need some help, I don't know if anyone has any advice for this problem but any would be more than welcome.
Hi, It's very interesting reading all you'r stories, it's good to see i'm not on my own. My 9 year old boy has been having night terrors for the past 4 years but now i come to think of it they seem to becoming more frequent in the past year or so. I've found that he seems to have them when he's been over stimulated prior to bedtime ie: been watching adventures films, that sort of thing, somthing's worrying him or he's been 'told off' for doing somthing bad. He's a very sensitive boy and has a vivd imagination, i often wonder if he has night terrors due to this. I have read through lots of stories but haven't noticed anyone saying that their childs night terrors are remembered in the morning. When he has them (not always) he 'knows' he's having them but can't drag himself out of it, you can see that he's trying, he's terrifyed it's as though he's stuck between two places. It's very scary at times, he runs around the house shouting and crying as though he's looking for something and looking over his shoulder as though someones chasing him, darts round doors and spys out from behind them....i've caught him on his way out of the house some nights so i have to take the key out of the door....he talks complete rubbish and sometimes even answers you....He trys getting me to follow him sometimes, saying "come on, this way! come with me!"..one night i decided to 'play along' with his requests, so i followed him, he led me by the hand and said..." see!, can you see them???!"...i said "see what?" he said "look! all those people, they are watching us, cant you see them!??" that sort of thing gives me the creeps!! finally he settled down for the night and i asked him the next morning about it, he recalled part of the 'dream' saying that they 'were' people in his room....
I do sometimes worry about his 'behaviour' the doc also told me that it is a NORMAL part of development and that he would never harm himself, i noticed a big scratch on his face the other day and he didnt know where it had come from, i wondered if he'd done it on one of his night trips, when i'd been sleeping. I've thought about taking him to a psychiatrist in the past but other than the nightly sessions he's a perfectly healthy normal child, a bit of a worrier though ...What a thing we have to put up with!!....Just to finsh off with a funny one...A friend told me that when she was younger she used to sleep walk into the kitchen and put a microwavable meal into the microwave at nights, then go back to bed.. having no knowledge of this happening until her puzzled mum caught her 'in the act'..
Ps! Does anyone else have a child who has night terrors, sleepwalks AND has a conversation with you? Carrie
Well i must say I am glad to see that i am not alone - my 7 year old
daughter just started these NT episodes, the difference i see with her
is that she always appears to be "awake". she does not cry out from
the bed she will walk around until she find me where ever in the house
i am and simply repeats i'm scared (over and over) to you. she will not
let you rub her neck or quiet her down - she will hug and hold on me
and repeat i'm scared. when i question her as to what she is scared of
she replies i do not know, i am just scared.. she is not crying in the
episodes - just VERY scared. the first time she did this i was not
aware that she was not fully awake, eyes wide open however. tonight is
the 4th time this week and the paturn is the same every time.. thanks
for the advise about the cold towels and cold water on the feet.. i
will try this next. Mary
I am so thankful that I found this website. My 3 yr-old son has had these night terrors for about a year now. It is so scary to watch him sit up with his eyes open and scream and cry. His episodes last a couple of hours sometimes. Touching him or turning on the light seems to make it worse. I'm convinced it happens when he is overly tired. We asked for a referral to a sleep specialist but our pediatrician said there wasn't much they could do and suggested waking up our son two hours into his sleep every night so as to reset his sleep cycle. This doesn't always work. I will definitely try uncovering his feet. Ofelia
My son has been having these terrors for quite a while now. It's awful seeing how terrified he is and knowing there's not much you can do to help. Sometimes what has been tryed before and worked doesn't always, and waiting it out is awful. We as parents are supposed to be able to protect our children from being scared and in these circumstances we are helpless.
My son also has a severe fear of being left alone. If he is left alone in a room and I don't tell him where I am going he will scream like he is scared to death that I left him. He has to know where I am in the house at all times. He has gotten worse latley about this. I wonder if something has happened to make him feel this way. I can't think of anything. He don't talk about it. He is almost five so I don't know how much information I would get from him.
Does anybody have any children with this situation?
My boy, newly 9, has been having night terrors since he was a baby. It is truly terrifying for all of us, but especially for him. He has no real memories of what occurs and I think that's a blessing! He does usually start these with illness, then they may carry on for a while. He has a pattern of having them either during a nap on the couch, or around 11 p.m. He does yell "go away!" or No! Stop!... And looks around generally terrified. It is so reassuring to find this site and see that so many others share in something we thought was happening only to us. We are ready to start this night with a new outlook and trial of new methods. Jedd will have a soothing bath with a story, and no socks on him tonite! It is ironic that I worry about him being cold because I like to sleep with the heat down bundled under a down blanket. So, when I tuck him in at night I make sure he's bundled into bed with a down comforter and quilt. He'd prefer to sleep in boxers and nothing else and I put
him in sweatpants and long sleeve t-shirts, since he ends up with blankets on the floor. Tonight he's sleeping with one blanket and free feet! Hope it all works... Thanks for sharing all your stories..
My daughter is 3 and she also has night terrors. They started last year, and at first I had no idea what was going on! She seemed to be awake, but when I tried to talk to her and comfort her she freaked out! The hands and feet started going crazy. It lasted about an hour then she fell asleep like it was nothing. Then one day, about a month ago I was watching t.v. and there was a doctor describing exactly what my daughter was going through! The whole thing still bothers me but I was so grateful to have a name for this now! It happened again last night, and I immediately went to my computer to look it up, and found this website I read about the cold towels and tried it and it helped! I am so thankful to have someplace to go to now so I don't feel like I am alone! Thank you all for your advice, I will keep touch, God Bless! Heather
my son is 6 years old, the first night terror happened about a month ago he had a bad cold, it was so scarey for us all thankfully my son does not remember anything, he had more terrors that week but then a period without any, only this week its started again he does have a little cold so i do agree that if the child is overtired or a bit poorly this can trigger them,when my son is having a terror i sit carmly with him speaking softley within 5 mins or so he is calmed and back in bed just takes me a bit longer!,my heart goes out to all the other mums and dads. claire
Our 8 year old daughter has been having night terrors since she was four. Here is what helps our daughter the most.
We take her into a room with a VCR and a television, sit her down, cuddle, and turn on her favorite TV show or movie, something soothing and cheerful. This works for us every time and is much more effective than hugs or comforting words or hugs or turning on the lights. Our daughter stops being upset almost immediately, wakes up calmly, and forgets the nightmare. Once she is fully awake (but drowsy) she goes back to bed willingly and falls asleep quickly. Some mornings I’ve asked her if she remembers getting up; her memories are vague and only include watching television. Hugs and reassurance are never this beneficial.
2. Early Bed Time – The Same Time Every Single Night
Establish an early bed time, every single night, without fail, without exception. Holidays, out of town visitors, exciting parties, special occasions – say NO to every single one. This can be a bit embarrassing at first, but just explain that this is too important to your child’s health, and stick to it. We have a half hour to one hour bed time routine, followed by an exact time when our daughter is laying in bed ready to go to sleep. We had to lie next to her while she went to sleep until the pattern was established firmly – for our daughter, this took several years. Her bed time is 8pm every single night, and she wakes up naturally some time between 6:30 am to 7:30 am in the morning. We allow extra morning time to sleep in for occasions where extra sleep is needed, like growth spurts and stressful days. Going to bed tired is more likely to cause our daughter to have a Night Terror than ANYTHING else. Stress seems to me to be related to her Night Terrors only because people who are stressed out need more sleep and are thus more likely to go to bed tired.
The most useful piece of advice I’ve found is that going to sleep tired causes night terrors. Avoiding that “over tired” state has worked well for our daughter. Once we established an early bed time (Every Single Night Without Fail), she went from having Night Terrors nearly every night to perhaps once a week, and now perhaps once a month.
Try the television and consistent early bed time – really! I’d rather the hugs worked, but television is much more effective. Television gets through to our daughter when she is “half awake” in a Night Terror. Hugs and words usually don’t.
My 6 year old son started having Night terrors about 4 months ago. It scared me to death, I talked with a friend who suggested he was sleep walking and summized he was sleep walking while having a nightmare, as he did not respond to me at all, they lasted about 3-5 minutes and then I could lead him back to bed and he would crawl up in bed as nothing had happened or cry a little and go back to sleep, tho he never talked to me or responded directly. I would ask him the next morning and he did not remember anything. He was having them about 5 times a month, then in desperation, I removed any games that had any violence and prevented him from watching any TV/Movies with any violence at all. I cannot tell you that it was the reason that they subsided, or maybe he is growing out of it? but never the less he hasnt had one for over a month and I am thankful for that. I only found out what it was from watching a movie called Godsend only minutes ago where night terrors was mentioned which, I promptly logged on here and found this site. It is re-assurring to know my son isnt the only one. and Thank You all for this enlightenment. While my sons NTs was not real violent, he would just keep saying, Im Scared, Im so scared, OH No, over and over again, while shaking his arms and holding his fists to his chest and not even realize I was right there with him the whole time. My sons NT always happened within 2.5 hours of going to bed most of the time it was always at the latter part of that. Thanks again for the enlightenment.
My 3 yr old son never had any terrors before I am assuming what happened was one. The night it happened he woke up screaming when we went to his room he said he saw flowers in his bed. We brought him in our room he saw something everywhere on my shirt the walls, floor you couldn't put him down the screaming was constant it lasted 2hrs straight from room to room. Finally brought to the er where it continued in the car and at the hospital non stop screaming for 4.5 -5 hrs. Hallucinations was what it seemed like constant screaming didn't subside not even for a moment. The doctors where puzzled said it was bizarre if night terror was a long time happening. They admitted him and gave meds to calm him down. They did blood tests, MRI, EEG for seizures nothing everything negative. We have been home one night now and he wants to be carried around the house still looking at the floor. And nervous to be left alone. Oh and one day in the hospital it was during the day wide awake not sleeping he screamed and started crying like the first time and was saying no pointing at the wall all over as if he was seeing things. But he wasn't sleeping it only lasted maybe 45secs EEG at that time was negative. Frustrated what was it was it a night terror or something else.
My nearly 3 year old suffers from night terrors. It is scary for the whole family and we don't get much sleep on the nights when this occurs. She will begin about 2 hours after putting her down to bed and she will cry and scream for about 5 to 20 minutes and will do this about every 1 to 2 hours all night long! I have noticed that if she doesn't get EXACTLY 10 - 12 hours of sleep per day she is more likely to have a bad night, and if she is given chocolate or any sugar it will happen that night. I have tried playing music all night on repeat (this was another parent's suggestion) and this did not work. Touching my daughter during a night terror makes it so much worse and so I just have to sit with her and try to talk to her and make sure she doesn't hurt herself. She never knows who I am during a night terror. Does anyone else notice any specific triggers that set off night terrors or have any suggestions for stopping them? Please let me know. SB
I was wondering if anyone has experienced night terrors associated with swimming the during the day before. EVERY time we stay at a hotel and swim alot during the day, the younger one wakes up every 15 or so minutes screaming until the early morning when she finally sleeps soundly. My older one just sits up in bed, sometimes walking around and talking throughout the night. I thought that swimming makes children sleep better! I dread a family vacation because of this.
My 4 year old son has been suffering from night terrors for about a year.I usually find him screaming on the landing. His eyes are glazed over and he shouts "mummy" over and over, even when I am holding him. I have found that the best solution for me is to take him into a room where the light is on and hold him tightly until the episode passes. When he eventually wakes I always try to make him laugh before he goes back to bed, to try and alleviate any residual anxiety. I have noticed that the episodes are more prolific in the school holidays when his routine is changed (even though bedtime remains the same). Sharon
My son Peter started having night terrors since he was about 2. He is now 8. He started by waking up with his eyes wide open and screaming words I could not understand. Sometimes he was clawing at my face and hitting me. His episodes would last anywhere from 15-30 minutes. He still has night terrors (at least 3 a week) since then. He does not claw anymore, but he is definately paniced, his heart is pounding and he is sweaty. He runs into our room (luckily for us) and is screaming for eaither my husband or myself. If he is screaming for "Daddy" he usually really wants "Mommy" and the other way around. Now his episodes last for about 10 minutes or so and he falls into a deep sleep and does not remember anything in the morning. I am going to try a few suggestions from other letters that I have read (uncovering feet, waking up before his terror). He also wakes up with his night terror about 1 - 1 1/2 after he falls asleep. The only thing we do for him right now is ho!
ld hime and tell him we are there for him and everything is allright. It works but I just want these night terrors to stop. They scare us to death! Any suggestions would be very appreciated.
Wow! I think I guessed right! My 6 month old daughter has just started having what I think are night terrors. I say "think", because I thought that 6 months was too young, but in reading the posts, her episodes seem to fit the description to a tee.
She is not a good napper. She will take short naps (30-45 minutes) periodically, but usually won't sleep beyond that unless we are driving. The few instances of suspected NTs she has had have begun within 30 to 60 minutes after going to sleep. We have a bedtime routine for her, and her bedtime is between 8:30 and 9:00pm everynight, earlier if she hasn't napped well. She starts to whimper, then quickly builds to loud, panicky crying (not her hungry cry) and does not respond to our voices or the usual things that sooth her when she is upset or sleepy. Her eyes remain shut as if sleeping, which is what made me suspect NT. She does thrash about some too. Eventually she will settle if I nurse her - this seems to break through to her - maybe its my scent? She does not nurse very long though, which leads me to believe it is not hunger that wakes her.
I was a sleep talker and walker as a small child and also had vivid, abstract nightmares - kind of like the bigger/smaller thing some parents mentioned - more often when I had a fever. I still have hypnopompic/hynogogic hallucinations - vivid visual hallucinations upon falling asleep or waking up - often tied to stress or being overtired.
Thanks for this site! Jennifer
My 10 month old has had three episodes of Night Terrors. The first one occured when he was 7 months old and was the same week as his cutting his first tooth. At the time we assumed he was in a lot of pain from the teething. The second time was last week, two days before he was diagnosed with Strep. The last time was last night. I don't know what could have triggered this last event. All three times he has begun screaming about 1-2 hours after going to sleep. In a matter of seconds he goes from being sound asleep to wailing so hard he can barely breathe. His eyes will be open, but it is obvious he can't tell where he is or who I am. He does not respond to my voice, change in light, change in temperature, being undressed, or being offered a bottle. No amount of rocking, singing, or "soothing" techniques do anything to calm him down. I have never been able to get him to a point where he understands who I am or so any sign of being awake. All three times I have had to put him into his crib and sit with him until he finishes screaming. All three episodes have lasted 30-40 mintues. Patricia
Hi, My son is 5 years old and a fraternal twin. He has night terrors, and the first one he had was when he had a high fever. His eyes were wide open and he was staring at the T.V. saying "It is right there mommy, don't you see it? It is going to get me! Mommy!!" Then his whole body went ridgid and he started screaming and yelling about the "bad thing". I was holding him the entire time and it was like he did not even know I exsisted. It scared me so bad, I did not know whether to call an exorcist or 911.After that incident, I read in my psychology book what the symptons are. Night terrors for the parent are one of those things that affects you worse then them. He has them ocassionally, but every time it does not get easier for me to watch. He never remembers them, but I feel traumatized every time. I have four children total and he is the youngest and a twin. None of my other children have ever done anything like that before. He does have asthma, so I was wondering if any!
one else has a child who has NT's with asthma? I am going to try the "cold water soak" next time. I have noticed a frequency increase when he does not get enough rest or if he is overly tired. Twyla
My daughter Amelia is five and a half months old and definately suffers from night terrors... my son (now aged fifteen) had them so I know the signs. I knew what to do with my son as his occured when he was aged about 4 until he was 6, however all my reading suggests nothing to help with babies as young as Amelia. She screams in terror and although I know you can't wake them, it is of course very frightening to watch. Does anyone have any advice? anneliese
I have a 4 year old daughter who has been experiancing night terrors for about a year now. we have tried absolutley everything to stop them from happening like waking her up just befor the night terrors happen. leaving a little light on in her room playing soft music while she sleeps, but the terrors are still coming. its very frighting stuff for myself and u do worry. alot of the time when the terrors are happening im at home on my own with her as the partner works night shifts. the amount of bruises ive had because she has took a swing at me. we got told by our health visitor to record what was happining before the terror started so we placed a camcorder in her room without her knowing a recorded her for the first couple of days and nothing was happening untill the terror startsand she sits up and lets out a blood curdling scream and i go in after her. if there is anyone else out there with more advice then please let me know. there has been a couple of times where she has got that frightened that she has either walked into her bedroom door thinking it is open or she has fell out of bed.thank you a very tired and worried mum. Terriann
My daughter is just shy of 1 year and has had NT since she was 5-6 months old. We cannot seem to find a concrete pattern, but suspect that a change in routine is a trigger. We just started helping her to learn to fall asleep on her own (instead of rocking her and putting her to bed after she is sound asleep). This has def. caused a reoccurance of the NT - to the point that we wonder if it is worth it to continue. Has anyone else had this problem and have advice? Should we quit so that she doesn't have the NTs? Should we continue in hopes that the new routine will help? BTW, I do think there is a genetic link, her dad used to sleep walk and I used to have NTs.
Thank you guys so much for sharing all of this information. I have a three year old daughter that started waking up screeming about three months ago. I used to think that she was awake and then I realized one night when she hit me, that she was still sleeping and calling me a monster. This scared me to death. It was horrible not to be able to console her. From that point on she just got worse. She is now waking up three to five times a night. So I took her to the doctor today and he said that it is "just a phase" and to let happen. Well that was easy for him to say since he isn't the one getting up with her everynight. Anyway, I found this web site and I am so excited. I found a few things that I will try next time she wakes up. (probably tonight):) anyway, Thank you all for posting all of your information. For a while there I thought that I was doing something wrong and she was afraid of me and having terrible dreams about me but now that I know a little more about this I feel a little better. Now I don't feel so alone with this situation. Thank you so much!!!!
My son is 7 years old and has been having night terrors since he was 2. I myself suffered from night terrors regularly from 2 years of age until the age of 14. I have also had night terrors as an adult.
As I have experienced them myself and know the fear they cause, I am sometimes very eager just to wake my child, especially when he is calling for me to wake him.
Now when my child is having a terror I try to talk to him and reasure him that I am there(without reminding him that it is only a dream, as this seems to send him into more panic) I can change the subject of his dream by telling him that I have sent whatever is scaring him away. I then tell him that we are going to the park to get an ice cream, and so on. He soon calms down, although it does take sometime to get him to listen.
My son and i have always been very light sleepers, i wonder if this has any association with night terrors.
Does anyone have any ideas on preventing them occuring?
Benadryl was most effective for us! Our four year old daughter was having episodes on a nightly basis; she would often times have three 30-45 minute episodes per night. They involved continuous screaming, flailing and were extremely disturbing for us all. As described on this site, she remembered nothing the next day.We did as much research as we could about the topic (this site was the single most effective resource out there) and talked to several different doctors and specialists. We then began to implement a list of suggested interventions over the course of ten days or so. For the most part, we got nowhere. One of our last options was medication. After consulting with our pediatrician and pharmacist, we decided to try Benadryl. It truly turned out to be a miracle drug. The first two nights we tried it, she had very brief episodes where she didn't even get out of bed. Our daughter has now slept three consectuive weeks without any night terrors. She occasionally wakes up for help in going to the bathroom and issues similar to before the terrors started, yet she is fully awake. Her voice has begun to return to normal (she had a horrible rasp and scratchiness as a result of the screaming) and she is back to her cheery self during the day. We have been assured that this level of medication is safe to be given daily (we give her one teaspoon about 20 minutes before bedtime). We tell her the medicine is for allergies, and make no reference to it helping her sleep. We plan on continuing the medication for two more weeks, at which point we will stop in hopes of the night terrors being gone.We cannot tell you how fortunate we feel to have found something that works. Be cautioned, however, as everyone we consulted stressed that typically with Benadryl, children will either be knocked out by it or the exact opposite will occur and they will become overexcited. Based on our results, we cannot recommend a more effective solution to the problem. We hope it works for you as well. Good luck, and thanks to all who have contributed to this vital resource. It kept us sane as we were enduring the screaming at 3 a.m. Blake
My daughter, who is 4 now, began having night terrors when she was three. The first time it happened I ws at home by myself. It scared me so bad that I turned on all the lights in the house for my sake. I have noticed a trend with fever and the terrors, but the latest has me concerned. She awoke screaming, I ran to her room and she had that "fear" on her face I immediately knew what was happening. I picked her up like I normally do and turned all near lights on. This time, though, as she tried to fall back asleep she kept pushing my hands away from her and telling me "let me do it." I was quessing let her figure out what she needs to do to get over this. Then she awoke again within 10 minutes with her right arm and leg spasming. I thought she was having a seizure. It really freaked me out. She vividly remembers what occured. She doesn't talk to me about her dreams. She will tell me that she had a good dream or a bad dream, but does not go into details. She has told me for the last few days now that she didn't shake last night. Has anyone else experienced this? I'm confused now between night terrors and nightmares. She remembers, but changes the subject when I want to talk about it. Christina
Our 3 year old daughter has just started having NT. She had a traumatic delivery and suffred from transient fitting when she was few weeks old. Does this have any bearing on suffering from NT? Leanne
It seems that my son has developed night terrors during his sophmore year of college. He is a junior and they have not gotten better. He's much stronger than a small child. He obviously will go to the health services but does anyone know about this developing in an adult? Drew
My 8 year old son has night terrors and also sleep walks. He used to stay in his room when having a night terror, he now seems to acknowledge what it is and walks downstairs - we are usually still watching TV in the loungeroom, or have just gone to bed ourselves. He tells us he's having "that dream" he walks around the house, cries and shakes his arms around, trying to shake away the bad feeling. He describes it like a dark, shadowy scary thing. After reading these posts, I will definitely try waking him an hour after he has gone to bed. Tyla mentioned her child having asthma (I think) my son also has asthma.
We have four children, my eldest daughter also had night terrors, but only as a toddler. I sometimes wonder if it is something else, which spooks me. Anyway, it is nice to know that we are not the only ones experiencing these terrors of the night. Michelle
Actually I Am a teenager experiencing these problems and I don't know if something is wrong with me. It seems whenever I get a fever... I'll wake up screaming, jumping, saying I'm going to die and unusual stuff like that. I have had this happen to me about 4 times. Most of the time I have a small fever or a real serious one. I've never told a doctor or anything being afraid it might be something serious. My brother who is turning 7 in september has just started experiencing thses problems as well and would like to know if we are not the only ones out there with this problem. Courtney
I thought my 5 year old was done with his NTs because we had gone many (blessed) months without one. Now they're back with approx. 4 in the past week. I can't see any trigger except being over-tired due to summer swimming starting up and visiting relatives. They seem to be worse this round than before, though.
I just wanted to share some of my tips: (1) the sooner you can stop them, the better. If I hear him talking in his sleep (I still use a baby monitor for this purpose) I rush in to stop the cycle. If I don't it will just escalate. (2) I believe in waking the child up while staying calm and loving. I do this by turning on the lights and putting cold water on his face (by dipping my hand in water and wiping his face.) I've tried lukewarm water and it doesn't work. While this is of course uncomfortable, it wakes him up and he can quickly go back to sleep peacefully. Even though he can't complete a sentence while in the middle of a NT, he once or twice has haltingly asked me to "help him wake up." Sometimes I can ask him if he wants me to wake him up and he seems to understand and says yes.
While I've tried to get on a better bedtime schedule this week, I'll start to try the bedtime rituals and waking him up after 45 mins of sleep to see if that helps.
I'm 11 and I still have night terrors. When I have them I feel like I'm trapped inside of my dream. I can watch an innocent PG movie and it'll turn into something violent. I cry,walk around, and scream terrified of what I'm caught in. I get extremely frightened at my dreams and feel like I'm near death in my dream and I can't get myself out of it. Some of my body starts to feel like there is something wrong with me like I'll feel numb or my fingers are to long. It doesn't make any sense of my feeling and seeings. I wish someone could explain this matter.
My 4 year son just recently started having these episodes that are just like what has been described in these letters I have just read. Tonight I was here at the computer at 12 am and heard a noise. I went down the hall as quick as I could and found him in his room with his head leaned over his toybox screaming and stomping his feet. I picked him up realized he was not awake and brought him to sit with me. He continued to scream and cry and kick his feet and then he peed on me and woke up. He does not remember a thing and I changed him and he said he just wanted to sleep. Could it be these night terrors as decribed and wow what a freightning experience!!!!
I am an adult 34 years old I started having night terrors about 5 months ago...they are horrible. I keep a notebook near my bed and write down the time and what the dream was about I am trying to figure out what is causing them if they are the same how to stop them. Are there any other adults out there having night terrors that feel so real you scream and run and try to get away. Christina
My daughter just turned 6 this June and has just started having NT about 6 weeks ago. Her eyes are open, but she looks very disoriented, and can not speek in complete sentences. She acts terrified, and nothing I do or say can comfort her. Her whole body trembles and her teeth even chatter. I usually take her in the bathroom where there is a nightlight and let her use the bathroom. I then try to convince her everything is O.K. so she will snap out of it. I don't think she ever wakes up. She goes back to sleep after about 5 minutes after the episode, and does not remember a thing in the morning.
Even though she doesn't remember anything, I find it very disturbing and upsetting that I can not comfort her when she is this scared.
Last night was our first experience with Night Terror. My 2 years 8 month son fell asleep watching "Nemo" on the couch. He sleeps with us and about 1 1/2 hours after going to bed he started crying/screaming. I tried to console him with no joy. He had previously been waking up frequently in the night with very short cries or wanting water. At first I thought it might have been gas as he has had in the night when he was much smaller. The giggling and patting didn't help. After about a while we realized that he seemed to be still asleep even though his eyes were open and he was talking .. mommy, daddy, ... I thought he might have been in pain (earache, tummy ache) he said "no". I have never sen him kicking/thrashing his legs so violently. Finally after a while he said he had "peepee" and wanted his diaper off - he only wear one at night, now. After that was removed he calmed down a bit and I rocked with him a while with the light on. He finally fell asleep in my arms!
but even in his sleep he wouldn't let me put his diaper on for about 40 minutes.
It was a very terrifying experience, yes I felt so hopeless and wanted to cry and didn't understand what had caused this.
My son did have apnea when he was born but not had an episode since. One of my sisters was also a sleep walker and had these episodes when she was about 6 - 10 (more flailing around then screaming so they were not nearly as scarry to me). I have also noticed that my son does talk in his sleep frequently. He sleeps in a tee shirt type top and diaper and always kicks the covers off. Ill try the cool compress if it happens tonight.
I was so worried and scared that it was something I had done or let him watch (cartoons?) or said... I feel comforted, relieved and less alone that other people are having similar experiences. Thanks. Angela
My "little man", 20 months old, has just this week started having night terrors. At first we feared pain from an earache was producing his screams and keeping him up AGAIN. We are less than a week post-operation - He had tubes put in both ears last week. Luckily, during his waking/crying cycles I have been able to hold him and eventually calm him. I realized two nights ago that he seemed to be asleep and yet his eyes were open and he had a fixed gaze. The moment I tried to put him in his crib he began to cry hysterically again and even became rigid as if he were stretching. After a post-op check up with the ENT doctor, a clean bill of health (no ear trouble), and scouring the internet, I am fairly certain our family has entered into the unwelcome realm of night terrors. Unfortunately, our son seems to get stuck in that transition period between light and heavy sleep over and over all night. He has an episode almost like clockwork every hour, sometimes every 1/2 hour.
The only limited success we have found is waking him (lovingly and it takes a while!), bringing him downstairs, turning on his favorite Baby Einstein video until he becomes drowsy, and then letting him sleep on his daddy's chest. (That is where he is now, FINALLY at 3AM) He is on a good schedule that has recently been interrupted. My husband and I both teach and are now home for the summer with him. Great during the day, but havoc at night! This, coupled with the fact that he recently had general anesthesia, I believe to be the trigger for the onset of these night terrors. I hope they do not continue but am thankful that we are not expected at work each morning! Just a side note of support: Do not feel you are a bad parent because your child "sleeps great at Nanny,s house for naps" and has terrors in your home at night. or if you feel helpless during these stressful times. It is obvious that there are many very caring parents out there by reading all these postings. Thanks for your ideas : ) Buffy
Thank you for all your messages and advice.
We live on a farm in Australia and our son is nearly 8 and began terrors about a year ago. We found keeping him cool to help but they still don't stop. Our problem is complicated as he begins walking as soon as he starts to have a terror. Any form of high temperature seems to guarantee us a terror that night. He has been known to scream, kick (at me!) and yes he leaves big bruises, run away, or crawl away during the terror. It always happens nearly 1 hr after bed.
They seemed to have stopped then began again a week or so ago. We're worried about the danger factor as we have an open fire for heating. I tend to wait until he has been asleep for at least an hour before going to bed. Sometimes he will have 2 or 3 in a night.
How long before they stop or he grows out of them?
My son has been experiencing night terrors since he was 2 1/2yrs old. He is now 5 and is still having them. I find that they seem to be really bad during growth spurts and during stressful times. I was going to take him to a sleep lab and they told me that I have to rule out the physical before they would look at his brain patterns. I took him to a Ear/Throat/Nose doctor and he was diagnosed with sleep apnea. He just had his anoids and tonsils removed and thus far it hasn't helped, I believe because he is still stressed from the recovery. I pray everynight with him and I have tried waking him the hour after sleep. Doesn't work. I will try the cold feet and the music. I am desperate. My son has more than 1 terror most nights. They usually start, he calms down and about half and hour later, they start again. This can happen all night long. He will scream at the top of his lungs and sometimes come out and growl at me and run around the house. I have to tell you this is very distrubing and my husband and I are so sleep deprived. The next morning he will tell me he slept well, he doesn't remember and thing. I need help......does anyone else have a child that has recurring multiple terrors each night? What have you done that has helped? Kari
My son matthew has suffered from these night terrors since he was around 1 and a half, he is nearly 5 now and they have got worse ever since. This is why i am writing this as everyone seems to think its stress and tierdness, matthew is a very happy child and his sleep pattern has never changed he goes to bed at 7:15 and always has, we have never moved and nothing has change thoughout is life so far, also this is not in any of my family or this dads side, his night terrors now he wakes up screaming for me, i try to calm him down but he pushes me away saying i want my mum, then he stands up and starts to shake with his hands getting ready to punch,this will go on for between 20min - an 1and a half, some times longer, the only thind that helps me is i go straight up to him and pick him up and hold him quite tight and gently tell him mummys here and im in his dream and some times this works, if it dont at least he don't hurt himself. Hope this helps all the best to you all
I am so glad I found this website. Last week, I was woken by the screaming and sobbing of my 4 year old son. I had no idea of what was going on!!
Now that it has it happened each night since then, I was confusing myself more by thinking of every possible reason. As it went on, I was getting more and more bizarre ideas. For example, we just bought a new house about 2 months ago...I began wondering if the house was haunted and only my child could feel the "ghost." In reality and rationally, I'm sure the new house is probably causing him a great deal of stress. Another bizarre idea I had was sparked by his aunt. She is in the airforce stationed overseas and recently sent him a mink blanket with spiderman on it...well, I started wondering if the blanket wasn't cursed by someone that hated Americans or something. Now that I have read some of your posts, I realize that the mink is too hot for him and he is getting overheated. The only thing that seemed to really correlate to all this is that his grandfather, my father-in-law, let him watch "It" (Steven King's movie about the clown) while baby-sitting him two nights before the night terrors started. So I was positive that had a lot to do with it too....and I'm sure it still does but I also feel better knowing my son is at the age where these are more common. (Don't even get me started on why my father-in-law thought an R rated movie was acceptable for a child. He and I had some words and he is not allowed to watch my son anymore.) My son has also gotten tonsillitis this week so I suppose the virus could have been making him sick even before the actual symptoms appeared and as many of you have mentioned, sickness can increase the night terrors. The only thing I don't know is if my husband or I had night terrors as a child. Neither or our parents remember either way. So as I mentioned, all of these factors seemed to work together to begin his night terrors. I just hope they end so...they are more scary for me than him but I feel horrible for him and I feel helpless.
I am concerned though by three things that I didn't notice in anyone else's post. My son, while having a night terror, screams and points at something and tells me, "There it is, there it is." Has anyone else experienced that? Can the child still being somewhat asleep but awake enough to try to get me to look at something that only he can see?
Secondly, I noticed one gentleman mention that getting his child to use the restroom usually helped his child go back to sleep. Well, my son, towards the end of the night terror actually goes to the bathroom on his own....just as though he was awake. (in the toliet, flushes, goes back to bed to sob a little more and then back to sleep) Last night, for the first time, he had a bowel movement and again, he did it as though he was awake. So I wonder if he is awake or still only in between awake and asleep. If I try to talk to him while he is using the bathroom, he still doesn't seem to understand me nor answer me coherently. So, I guess I just do not understand this half awake, half asleep stage.
Finally, my son does not follow the short amount of time asleep before the night terror strikes. For 3 days in a row, it happened at about 4:00 in the morning. (he goes to bed at about 10:00) Then, a few nights, it was 1:00 in the morning. Lately, it is happening between 1:00 and 3:00. There is no real consistency and he has already been asleep for at least 3 hours.
Thank you for posting your own experiences with this. It had me so shaken up but I feel a little bit better knowing I'm not alone.
I noticed your site has a lot about parents wondering about this. I thought that maybe you'd like to hear what it's like from the person who has actually had them. I'm 22 years old now and can still remember when I had night terrors. If you feel this information is not beneficial and wish not to post it, that's fine. It's up to you. I just thought I'd go ahead and let you know what it's like from my perspective.
When I was younger between 5 and 9 years of age, I can only remember screaming at night. Both my parents would come in and turn on my light. I could not for the life of me remember what the dreams were about. I only remember screaming and not being able to recognize my mom. My mom would HAVE to leave my site and my dad would sit beside me while I sit up in bed next to him still screaming. I'd ask where Mom was; often crying. I couldn't recognize her face if she walked by and each time she did, I screamed. It was very hard for her emotionally because she felt helpless. She couldn't do anything. One thing that was weird was that I could remember being awake but things didn't feel right. I spoke in a soft voice not to be too loud. My dad had to move slowly around me and speak softly. He couldn't touch me or scratch my back too quickly or without me knowing he was going to do it. My senses were more keen at this time to the world around me. It was a very strange feeling. To help me out, my dad would have some crackers and milk (or water) that I could drink. And although I didn't eat a lot, it calmed me down enough that I would eventually get tired and fall asleep. When morning would come, I would not talk about my night terrors or anything. I was too scared to talk about them. The dreams were weird and seemed like they were still like a dream. I acted as though they never occured. I didn't realize that those were real until I got older and my parents discussed the topic. During that time, I saw a psychologist and was put on riddlan (however that's spelled). My parents were told I had A.D.D. and that night-terrors were usually associated with children with this disorder. From what my parents were told, it has to deal with the part of the brain that deals with visual recognition. My brain had not been developed as much as a young child's had being the same age I was. My night terrors went away when I moved away from Utah to Arizona on October 1st, 1992 (I was 9 years old).
Our son is 5 years old and has been having NT for about a year. Last night was his worst episode yet. It seemed to last forever but was actually about 20 minutes. I am so glad to know that our chid is not the only person going through this. I have read where several parents have kept their child's feet uncovered. I am going to try this the next time my son has a NT. That would be great if this works. I'm so relieved that my son has no recollection of these episodes. It is so painful and to watch my son go through this and not be able to "fix" it. Thanks to everyone who shared experiences. It's nice to know we're not alone.
My son is 4.5 years old and has started experiencing night terrors. He wakes about 1-2 hours after he has fallen asleep and calls out for mommy or daddy and then is crying so hard that he either dry heaves or actually pukes. He is sobbing uncontrollably for about 10-15 minutes. He is sweaty and his eyes are open but he does not really appear to be awake. Either my husband or I get him and carry him around the house with the lights on and say soothing things to him trying to get him to wake up . Generally this does not work and it just has to run its course. It is heart wrenching and exhausting for both our son and us. I have tried interrupting his NT by gently rubbing his back and getting him to change positions in bed about 1 hour after he goes to sleep. This seemed to work for about 3 weeks. But he has started having them again about 2-5 times a week. We are going to try 'melatonin' 1 hour before he goes to bed, as instructed by his pediatrician, and see if that
gives him any relief. It is just soooo incredibly frustrating! We are also reinstituting NAPS as we have pretty much stopped them since May. He is a very happy and active boy and thank God he does not remember his NT when he wakes in the morning.
Message to Trish: read my e-mail. My son also throws up during his night terrors and they are close to the same age.
I am a 53 year old woman who has been experiencing these night screams (terrors) for the past year. I have had about 5 episodes the latest one being last night (8-01-05). I have no idea why I am expericencing these awful scary moments. Maybe they are stressed induced or just plan fatigue...I am at my wits end and am almost afraid to go to sleep. My husband is quite concerned, but he never wakes me suddenly, it is always with very calm and soothing tones from him. I wake up only remembering very little of the dream (mostly dark shadows coming at me). What can I do? The episodes are about 2-3 months apart. Any suggestions?
This Message board is a life saver! I experienced night terrors from the time I was 6 years old until about the age of 22 years. I thought something was terribly wrong with me. I thought I was demon possessed, because when I was a child no one understood this condition. My parents would tell me not to worry about it when I tried to explain what I was going through. They totally ignored me during these episodes if they were awake, and they would never wake up when I was having episodes if they were asleep. I felt alone and exhausted all the time. Our home was always very hot, and even though I was always roasting, I would never uncover my feet. In hindsight, I do think that would have helped. I think a little bit of acknowledgement from my parents would have helped as well. My Grand-daughter is now 6 years old and is starting to have night terrors. I feel empowered and ready to assist her in battle now that I have found this web site. I also know from first hand experience what she is going through, and am determined she is not going to feel alone in this. Thank you everyone very much for all of your great insight!
When my daughter was one she started to wake up about three to four times a night she is three now and now she wakes up about every 5 mins just crying and screaming waking up with sweat driping down her and thinking something is after her. Sometimes she will run up and down our hallwayscreaming sometimes she will sleep walk. I took her to the docter and they told me sleep terrors and nightmares I would just like to have another person thinking. thank you very much. Julie
My 6 year old daughter just started having nt. The first was when she had the flu and had a fever. The latest have been after a late night of movie watching with her sister.(It's summer break). The thing I noticed different about her though is that she does seem aware of us... last night I asked her if my glasses were on. She looked and said "No glasses" and then proceeded to shake her fists at something behind us. We were sitting in a chair and she noticed a piece of fuzz on the chair and asked "Whats this" I told her fuzz thinking "IT" was over, but she then continied to grab my face and say "don't make me believe" "I love you mommy, don't go" This breaks my heart because I am right there, and keep telling her so and that I love her, but it seems that doesn't get through. She keeps calling for me while looking right thru me at something so obviously scary that it really freaks me out and I have to have my husband sit with us to keep me from completely losing it. Karen
My 7 year old daughter had a doozy last night. It took me
by surprise because she hadn't had a night terror in a
few years (and probably only about three of them since
she was a toddler) and I first thought she was just
manipulating me into not sleeping in her own bed (she
likes to sleep with me when my husband is away and
tries to sleep with both of us whenever she can).
Anyway, we have had a busy week with visiting friends
and she hasn't had a lot of sleep and there has been
some stress of having another only child share her
room/house/family with her. We were reading books to
her and her friend and I think she may have fallen
asleep with her eyes open or something because a few
minutes after stopping reading she started panicking
about a black widow spider coming through the walls to
get her. She was moving around like something was
crawling on her. She would talk a lot to me, saying
things like "Help me, help me. I can't take it. I need to
get out of this creepy place."
I kept telling her to calm down and that she was fine
and she'd say "No, I'm not." At one point, I said: Do you
know who I am? And she said, "Yes, mom." I still
wonder if it was some type of panic attack rather than a
night terror or I maybe they're the same thing?.
Eventually, I got so frustrated that I took her out of bed to
get a cold washcloth (she was hot and her eyes were
glazed). My husband suggested calmly that she come
in with us for awhile and she was able to calm down
and fall into a deep sleep.
I'm going to ask her this morning if she remembers
trying to get to sleep last night and see how much she
does or will share.
It's "comforting" to hear that older children do have
this...I do now remember my own bouts of sleep panic
and irrational fears at night.
I just read over some of your e-mails and I have to say I'm glad to know that many people share this terrifying experience as well as I, but what I found to be frightning is the amount of people who have 8,9,10,11 year old children who still do this. My 2 year old son has been doing this since he was about 6 months old, it didn't occur to me what they were until he was about 1. When I would hear him in the night I would naturally try to comfort him but he would thrash all around and scream and throw himself into walls, floors, furniture and anything else in his path of destruction and the more I would try to comfort him the worse he got. But what really made me realize these were not just bad dreams is the blank stare or look in his eyes. I would tell my husband that he was still asleep even though he looked very much awake, but the blank glazed over look in his eyes told me this was not just a bad dream. I'm not sure if my sons NT's are severe or not but they typically last from 30-45 minutes every time. I have just started to research this so I appreciate all the advice and websites reccomended. I just pray that we find a way to stop this, my biggest fear is the harm he could do to himself. He's fearless enough when he's awake, it really scares me what he does during a NT. Teena
My son is 5 and has been experiencing night terrors for 2 and a half years now.Ive had him at the doctors,peadiatrition and finally the naturapath.The doctors basically told me hed grow out of them and the naturapath told me he was constipated and had to much energy and his brain was not having time to swith off.He wakes up sweating,crying and mumbling.Its hard because am i suppose to wake him, ive been told different things???He looks like he is awake and cant remember what he was dreaming about.Ive tried waking him up 20 minutes after i put him to sleep but that isn't working anymore.Im lost.. Robyn
My son is almost 2 years old. In the last 2 weeks he has experienced what my physician thinks are night terrors. Two episodes have occurred 2 hours into naps and 4 episodes have occurred 2-3 hours after he has gone to bed at night. Initially, he screams, cries, arches his back and flops around like a fish with eyes open. He can't drink or speak. Most episodes last around 1 hour and appear to be cyclic in nature. He goes from intense screaming to normal cries to screaming fits back to cries. At the end, he slowly quiets into a sob. Treatment - I try to hold him or cuddle on the floor with him. A favorite video can help him regain some control. I watch his dietary intake of certain foods - might be a pattern. I rub his tummy clockwise while holding him. Gas usually makes him feel better. When he ceases the screaming, I remind him of some of the fun activities he has done throughout the week. Sometimes I sing a favorite song softly in his ear. FYI he does have a history of sleep walking so we placed a gate outside his door for safety. I am always open to other ideas. It can be so traumatic and stressful for the adults and other children.
I think i just witnised my 4 year old daughters night terror. I t hink she has been having them for a while now I just thought she was just trying to be a pain in the but because she wanted her own way. She screamed for at least 10 minn. She kept asking for her mom. I was right there holding her. Then she would push me away and tell her dad to get away. He got frusterated and left the rooom. I kept trying to tell him she was asleep..She could not controll herself. We live with a friend and her husband right now. Weare waiting for our new house to close. I feel funy when she has these episodes What can I do I feel so bad for her. How do I explain to people what is going on with her Why is she getting them, Why is she so scared, Is it somthing that is hapining at her NEW SCHOOL ! I dont know what to do. Kendra
Hello my son is now 7yrs old and me and my husband believe he has night terrors my son was 5 1/2 when he lost a loved one, he was his 4yr old cousin they were like brothers and well the loss of his cousin, at that very moment my son began screaming in the night around the same time almost 2a.m. once a week for a yr. Then it stopped for a year then all of a sudden at 7 it has started up once more but this time the terrors are longer and the screams are louder and he shakes with his eyes wide open he is shiverring and in a cold sweat. It just began again when we were told to evacuate for the hurricane in texas and we just don't know what to do or where to go for advice or what questions to ask please if anything what advice can you give me i am scared for him and just feel helpless?
My son is 7 years old and began having what we believe to be night terrors several months ago in the last couple of weeks of the school year. My husband and I attributed it to the emotional stress of the end of the school year, saying goodbye to good friends for the summer, endless parties and late nights and a general change of routine. We spent the summer at our summer house on Lake Huron. My son had NO PROBLEMS and no NT at all during the summer. The day we returned home they began again and he has now had three episodes in the past ten days. School began one week ago and while he is happy to be back, I'm sure it is also stressful getting back into the routine etc. It is soo upsetting to see your beloved child suffering such fear and being totally unable to help. I will try some of the things I've read on this site and see what happens. Liz
My son is 6 years old and has just started having NT. Three weeks ago, he was sick for 2 days with a fever and a bad headache. That first day he was sick he took a nap and woke up screaming "Stop yelling at me , stop yelling, you're hurting my ears." I of course told him that I was not yelling at him but he continued. His eyes were wide open and I really thought that he was awake. I later found out that this was a NT. That evening he had one after going to bed as well. He then continued to have them for two more nights. When his fever was gone and he was better he didn't have any for two nights. We thought it was over. Nope, he has been having them for the past 3and a half weeks with the exception of 3 nights.
The third night he didn't have them was when we were advised by our doctor to try Benadryl. It worked for that one night, but not after that. So we stopped giving it to him. He always wakes up within the first hour of going to bed. He comes upstairs to us and is crying, screaming, unable to console. He usually yells "Mommy, Mommy" even when I am holding him. He will jump up and down, run around, let us hold him for a few seconds then try to get away from us, then come back to us, etc... the cycle continues on for 5 minutes or so. My husband and I are usually watching TV at the time still, so we will let him sit and watch it with us for a little bit. Having him look at himself in the mirror sometimes works to wake him up. There are some nights that he will only have one, but many nights he will have 2, 3 or 4. We are at our wits end because we've never experienced this with him or our 9 year old daughter. Also, when he is having a NT his heart is beating so fast, he is sometimes sweating and he always is shaking uncontrollably. We have to bundle him up in a blanket to get him to stop shaking.
Our Doctor wants to send him to a Pediatric Neurologist and get a cat Scan done. Has anyone had this done before? Also, my son is pretty sensitive and fears change as well as loud noises. Per
haps some of this is connected. But why would it start just now and never before? If anyone has any thoughts please let me know. I would love to be in touch with people who are having similiar issues. Thanks for everyone's support on this board as well as your stories.
I was reading the first post that begins with 17 month old with colic. Anyway, our four year old son has been having night terrors on and off for about 2 years. It seems like they have come in spurts and then completely gone away for a period of time.
This time he has been having them since leaving the hospital, and they seemed to have been aggravated by a test he had to have this week. I was thrilled to find your website as these seem to be the worst terrors that he has ever had. Thank you all for posting.
Stress certainly seems to be a factor in all of this with our son. He does verbalize during his night terrors. He also has some connection with using the bathroom. He wears pull-ups to bed, and almost every time that we have heard him screaming lately he has had to go to the bathroom (the only way we can tell is that he's holding his privates). We put him on the toilet, he urinates, and he calms almost immediately. I'm sure part of this is the cool air that hits his behind, but I wonder if there also isn't some gray area between bedwetting and night terrors for older children. My husband and I have wondered if that urge to urinate and not being able to wake up enough to get to the bathroom kind of triggers the episode.
I'll have to try the cool cloths and uncovering his feet. We live in Florida, so the air-conditioning is always on right now, but we also tend to cover him with a sheet. Just when you thought you were being a good mom ...
I don't know why I didn't think to look at this subject online sooner.
Tonight he sat straight up in bed with eyes wide open and panicked. I was able to talk to him and ask him the problem and tell him I would take care of it. I asked him to lie down so that I could take care of it, and he did! That was great. He was back to sleep as soon as his head hit the pillow. We'll see how long it lasts or if it works again, but what a difference being there at the start of the episode rather than in the middle when it's so hard to reach him.
Thank you all again, and I'll keep checking back.
I'm a mum of a 2.5 year old boy, and for the last couple of months, I've suspected him of having Night Terrors. Every morning around 1.30am, he would wake up crying, screaming, thrashing and being restless. Nothing I would do would calm him. Each episode would last anywhere from 5-15 mins. Being the kind of person who enjoyed and needed their sleep, I would get very frustrated with him, because I couldn't understand what was going on! It would go on for several nights running, and then would stop just as suddenly.
Last week, he went under general anesthetic to remove his tonsils and adenoids, as he was also suffering from sleep apnoea, I thought that this would be the end of the sleepless nights. However, since being home, he has been suffering from them every few hours. They are lasting longer, and he is getting more violent towards myself, his grandmother, and himself. This is what prompted me to try and understand more about what was happening to him.
I have found some good advice on this site (it's better then trying to understand all the information from the 'doctors and proffesionals who have no idea what it is like to see your child like this). I am worried about the fact that they have increased, but reading another concerned parents opinion about the connection between surgery and the night terrors getting worst has prompted me to go and see our doctor.
If anyone has an idea about if they are connected, I would love to hear their opinion.
My son is 5 1/2 years old and he has been having "night terrors" since he was about 2 years old. It usually happens 2 - 2 1/2 hours after he goes to bed and he will wake up sweating and screaming for about 5 - 15 minutes. At first it happened once every week or two, then it was once every three to four weeks, now it happens once every month or two. So hopefully he is growing out of them.
A lot of times he will say things like, "That hurts" or "Stop it" over and over. His eyes will be open and he will be reaching out or grabbing, but not really hitting or anything like that. My husband and I will go in and I will hold him and he does come into my lap, but still looks right through us--freaky. I also talk to him and tell him we are there and its just a dream, I also put a cold washcloth on his forehead and neck because he gets so hot and worked up. His heart is also beating fast. I really don't know how he wakes up, because it seems like forever, especially when he is screaming bloody murder, but he does, and after he wakes up, he doesn't remember anything and he just falls back to sleep. In the morning he doesn't remember anything.
I just read some information on the website www.nightterrors.org because I knew about the terrors, but thought my son should be grown out of them by now. There are two things I discovered--my husband's brother has a sort of night terror once in a while, so it does run in families, and it does usually happen when he is upset about something and he is overtired. One happened just last night and before he went to sleep, my son was worried that he will have another bad dream, because once in a while he does have nightmares where he will wake up and yell for me that he had a bad dream. So, now I will talking with him before he goes to bed about dreaming happy things and see how that works out.
I hope this helps someone, or if anyone wants to give me other advise, please do so.
Thank you, Diane
My daughter began having what I believe to be night terrors about a month ago. She had just turned 1, I was on bedrest due to having pre-term labor, and my mother-n-law had come to take care of her until the baby was born. Her schedule was completely different then ours (She got up 6am every morning, us more like 9am and she let her stay up until 10pm and would not make her take naps). She started waking up after about an hour, just screaming and thrashing around. After my son was born and I got her back on my schedule she is dueing a little better, she still wakes up screaming and sobbing but it is over with in minutes. This often happens during naps to and it is hard to tell if she is awake and ready to get up or having a terror. The thing that disturbed me the most is that she fell asleep in my arms the other day, began having a terror and socked me in the face, which you just don't expect from a 13month old. She has had a lot of changes lately; new baby, I'm a full
time mom now when I used to work 50-60hrs a week, she rarely goes to day care anymore when she used to go every day, and her father is now on a schedule where he works Wed-Sat. and he works 16 hrs. on Sat. and then is off Sun-Tues so she goes over 24hrs. with out seeing him now on Sat. Is there any chance that as she adapts to these changes the night terrors will improve?
We are so glad to have found this site for after our 9 year old daughter had another night terror last night, we were at our wits end and feeling somewhat alone in our experiences.
Our daughter started having night terrors about six years ago and at that time we had never experienced anything like it. She would wake screaming 'take it away' or 'get it out' and other similar phrases. So after having emptied her room of anything that was not fastened down, on more than one occasion we decided this was not normal. Upon investigation, we found an article in a book about NTs.The symptons our daughter experienced matched exactly those explained in the book. Screaming, talking and shouting but not making much sense, cold sweats, shivering and the most freaky thing was the fact that her eyes are wide open but seemed to be staring straight through us.
Since then she has had NT on and off. Some things that do seem to trigger them are getting too hot, stress at school ie tests etc.. Sometimes during a NT she will be excessively flactulant.
She never seems to remember them, but we talk openly to her about them and she seems to find what she says and does quite amusing.
However over the last couple of weeks she talks about dying and that she is 'ready to go now' which we have found disturbing, but fully appreciates that this has no relevance to anything. We were wondering if anybody else has experienced anything like this?
Again this has been a truly wonderful site to read and hope others find it as reassuing.
It is nice to know that when we are comforting our little girl that there are others out there doing likewise.
Thank you so much to the 'mom' maintaining the website and well done.
Steve and Jill (UK)
My daughter who is 5 1/2 years old wakes up every night with a scream exactly 1 hour after sleeping. She gets up and her eyes are sometimes open, but she is not awake. She utters some words but we can't make any sense of what she is saying. I try to hold her but she pushes me away. The whole episode lasts for about 3-4 minutes after which she goes back to sleep. The next morning she does not remember anything. Recently we started waking her up about 20-25 minutes after she falls her sleep, this has reduced the probability of her having an episode that night. From what I have read, it seems that she is having night terrors. But recently I started wondering if she is suffering from epilepsy. Does anybody know if the above symptoms could be caused by epilepsy?
My son has been having these for some time now. He is going to be 6 in december. Now thought the frequency has reduced, it still pains me when i see him having a night terror. I am very happy to reach this website, as it has reassured me that things are not as bad as i thought them to be. Also, there is a great deal of consolation that things can improve with some changes in the way of handling this situation as and when it occurs.
I have not tried this cool water trick, will do so. And try to have a schedule for him, in case he is not getting enough sleep in the night to let him have his fair share in the mornings.
My 10 year old son has had NT's since he was around 18 months old. His first episodes started when he was sick, usually with a fever. At two he would scream and bat at spiders. At 4 he would wake up and see people in his room. As he got older he would run around the house as if he was being chased by something. His heart beats very fast. Sometimes some of the stuff he does is funny, yet I can't laugh I'm so scared.
One time when he was eight, he had been real sick with a sore throat fever etc. he was sleeping in the afternoon. I went to wake him up to have him drink water, he shot out of bed, almost literally started running up the walls. He was afraid of something, but was also jabbering things I had never heard. I couldn't hold him or anything, and he ran throughout the house, jumping on beds furniture everything. I was afraid because he had a temperature, and might have been dehydrated that I called 911. By the time they got there--which was real fast, he was awake and it was over.
I've asked for help from pediatricians, psychiatrists, and psychologists, but I haven't found much help from them. Some tell me to wake him up, the psychiatrist told me absolutely not to wake him. I have found that if I wake him an hour before the NT occurs that works, however last night I tried that, and it sent him into a NT. Another thing I have noticed is that, he is very active, and if he hasn't been active for a few days he can get a NT that night. It's like being active helps him clear his mind. My older daughter who is 14 also has had NT's, however they have never been as terrifying for us, as my son's have been. She would only sleep walk, and we could wake her easily, and they were over for her. The difference with her terrors was that she could remember hers, and my son doesn't. My daughter always sleeps with the window open a little (our winters are very cold) and a tv on all night. I have let her because she can sleep, and she doesn't sleep walk, and she doesn't have night terrors anymore.
After reading what everyone else has said it sure seems that many of the symptoms are the same, and it seems like there would be a simple solution to these NT. I just wish we could all have the answers. I'm going to try some of the things you all have tried like directing him to the toilet, and cooling his feet(I hadn't heard of that). I also agree there is something to the sleep apnea. My son has kind of a different breathing pattern at night.
What works best for my son when he is in a NT, is to calm him, never try to wake him, I talk to him if he talks to me with words of encouragement, and I just wait it out. And, I have found that if I can I let him sleep in the morning and send him to school later. Sometimes if I don't do that he is too tired that day, and then has another NT that night. I pray for answers for all of us, and am so thankful I found this site.
I have a little boy who is 3 now who has NEVER slept through the night..EVER!!! This is causing problems not only with our concern for our child and lack of sleep but with my husband and I.
My son has maybe slept a full night half a dozen times from birth to now. He is a very bright child knows a little more than my last 2 children. And an imagination like you would never believe.
He wakes from sleep 3-4 times every night, screaming, crying, unable to calm him down at times. Some nights he will let you touch him and hold him other nights you would think he was in some kind of pain, and you cant get near him.
Is this what would be considered night terrors? He does recall (monsters in his room) ( he says he can see angels) will even point them out to you during the day.. We need help! Liz
My son has started having NT since he was about 8 months old. Initially I new something was wrong because when he first woke up screaming and I went to him, he didn't respond and no matter what I did I couldn't console him. He is now 2-1/2 and has them occasionally, it starts about 1-1/2 hours after he falls asleep, he will sit up quickly with his eyes wide open and there would be this terrified look on his face I notice he doesn't seem to focus on anything in particular although he sometimes seems to be shoving things off of him (maybe spiders?)his screams are terrifying and sometimes he calls out for me, his episodes last about 5-7 minutes and only happens occasionally, thank god! Once at the babysitters he got up and ran around the house sreaming and quite frightened as if something was chasing him, right after he went back to sleep. I did some researching (both in the books and on-line) on possible problems and after a while I suspected it was NT. After checking with my pediatrician (who confirmed that it was NT and basically that it is harmless), I felt a little more at ease. I have heard that most children outgrow this and I am hoping he will at some point. Again, this is something that is terrible to watch and after dealing with this for the last couple of years I still can't get used to it. I am always looking for more info and suggestions on this and I am happy that I found this site. It really helps to know that I am not alone. Hang in there moms, this experience will only make us stronger.
Hi I'm back again with a new night terror story about my 10 year old son. These last few weeks my son hasn't been feeling very well, running temperatures at night and having night terrors. The dr. diagnosed him yesterday with mono. The dr. told me to keep him very low, no physical sports, and no running around, things like that. When my son has a night terror he runs, jumps, flips, etc. I thought I can't let him do that. So, last night when my son had a night terror I tried some of the things I read here that other parents have done. When my son first jumped up with the NT, I told him he was dreaming, that didn't really work, but it calmed him, then I put his hand in a cold glass of water that was by his bed. That woke him out of the dream enough to tell me he had to go to the bathroom. I then walked him to the toilet and he went. Then I had him put his hands under cool running water, he woke up completely and came out of the night terror! I gave him some tylenol for his
fever, gave him a blanket, but didn't cover him up, made sure his feet weren't covered and he had a great night sleep, and so did I!
I'm feeling more hopeful!!
I have posted messages before and I love to pop in and read some messages every now and then. I saw a question that i would like to address it was from Brooke-she asked if anyones children have ever noticed things getting bigger and smaller to the child who suffers NT- OMG YES!!!! i knew it was connected to these episodes....seems like we go for a long time and no NT then bam all the sudden here they go again! He is very afraid of the dark, scary music to the point of just being able to hear it while he is in bed and dad is watching something loud in the living room. It is the most bizarre situation to be in as a parent, so helpless we feel. He see's things crawling, diving, talks mummble jumble, pupils very large, has a look about him like he is looking straight through me, and the other odd thing as I go back and read seems it usually strikes BOYS!! My son is now 11 yr and seems to be on a pretty good streak of no NT-keeping my fingers crossed and thanking the Berkley Parents for this site one more time so us parents don't feel so alone.. Dawn
I have a 4 year old daughter who has been suffering from NT for 18 months she has them every night. She screams, shouts, kicks, scratches her chest, pulls at her night clothes I am at my wits end with her. It is affecting the whole family, she wakens my 18month old son if she is having a NT usually everyone is up. I find it very interesting that keeping her feet cool might help - i will try it. I am going to see the paediatrician on 22/12 and have been keeping a dairy of events over the last 2 weeks and there is definately a pattern. Now seeing it in writing and having videoed it I find it more upsetting. Having a problem coping with it. Fingers crossed that I might some more advice on how to cope with them. I did give her chamomile drops from my local health shop and they worked a treat for about 3 months until she got used to them. She never slept an entire night in her life until I gave her these drops but as I said her body got used to them. I might help some of
you in the interim. Good luck to you all and I will keep you posted. Jane
This is such a great website.
It helps so much to here you are not the only one going throught this crazy, CRAZY, situation.
I have a 41/2yr old. He has been suffering from night terrors since around a year old. When he gets them he vomits. Our doctor says that does not usually happen with a night terror but it does in our situation. He NEVER has remembered any episode. I am so afraid that he is going to choke on his vomit one night. He usually sits up or stands up when the terror begins but one of these times we may not be so lucky. When he is in his bouts of the terrors we have him sleep with us. I cannot find ANY information on night terrors and vomiting. Have you ever heard of any????
Thanks for listening.
I remember one evening calling our dr. and telling him my daughter is running around the room scared to death of something I am taking her to someone for excersism. He laughed and assured me that these out rages were normal. He told me exactly how she was acting.She had a few episodes before this night and I was really worried. this was when she was 4 and had just stared preschool. I that time the only thing I could do was go to the library and reseached for night terrors. What I learned and the remedies were as follows
A. always have a bedtime and keep it.
B. NIght terrors usally occur in the first 90 minutes of sleep.
C. generally over tired or change in daily schedule.
D. A child is usually startled during the first 90 minutes. such as slamming of a door yelling or some loud intrusion.
E. eyes wide open and yelling she would look right through you like you weren,t even there.
F. When the episode begins do not wake the child it is almost like waking a sleep walker and can cause alot of disorintation and more sleeplessness nights.
G.hold the child on your lap in sitting postion, talk to them in a quite voice,find something common that you can do during each episode to do.
H. I was told that during the first 90 mins of rem sleep is when you start to dream and a night terror is when a child can not distinguish between awake and asleep and they do not want to wake up to their dream what ever it may be.
My husband and I decided that we would count backwards from ten to one and tell her she was alright and that by the time we get to one she will either wake up or go back to sleep. in doing this she would hear us and do either the episode would only last for seconds after that.I was also told a child remembers nothing about what is going on and most times they do not even remember it happening.
I. schelduling for children this age is very important.Her episodes lasted about 6 months after we started this regimin with her. scariest thing I had ever seen.Night terrors do not last long. Tris
I HAVE A 9YR OLD BOY HE HAS SUFFERED FROM WHAT I THOUGHT TO BE NIGHT TERRORS FOR NEARLY 2 YEARS NOW BUT READING THESE POSTINGS IM NOT TO SURE!
YES WANDERING AROUND NOT KNOWING WHERE HE IS, EYES WIDE OPEN AND DIALATED, INCONSOLABLEY UPSET, BUT HE IS SO FRIGHTENED HIS ENTIRE BODY SHAKES VIOLENTLY AND HIS TEEHT CHATTER SO MUCH HE BITES THE INSIDE OF HIS MOUTH TILL IT BLEEDS. IT TAKES ME HOURS TO CARM HIM AND GET HIM BACK TO SLEEP. I AM EXHAUSTED THIS IS HAPPENING NEARLY EVERY NIGHT, HE WILL NOT ACCEPT ANYONE ELSE BUT ME WHEN HE IS HAVING AN EPISODE BUT NEVER REMBERS A THING IN THE MORNING. HAS ANYONE EXPERIANCED THE SAME OR SIMILAR?
I have two sons who suffer(ed) from night terrors. One has outgrown them, the other is only twelve and still has them.
My twelve year old was ill recently, and during this time experienced an unusual number of terrors. His pediatrician feels the increase was definitely related to him being ill.
I found your website very helpful and comforting.
I am writing to you about a new book I discovered in my search for information and thought the readers of your website might benefit from it. I haven't read it yet (am waiting for my copy to arrive from Amazon) but it sounds quite promising.
Good Luck and Blessings,
BANISHING NIGHT TERRORS AND NIGHTMARES
A must read for professionals, victims and their families.
Format: Paperback, 228pp
Pub. Date: March 2004
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Hello! I am now 22 years old and I still have night terrors. I am not sure when it actually started, but i read the comments in your website and my case is unique. Let me explain. Right before I fall asleep I get this feeling that someone is trying to pull me in to a nightmare or a "night terror". The funny part is that I know what exactly is going on and the only way I know how to stop is I moan and that wakes up my girlfriend who gently wakes me up. After I wake up I feel like she is my hero. can you HELP!!! Jason
After reading all other parents experiences (in particular the one from Trish). I feel relief that this is what we are experiencing. I have an 8 year old boy, who has been suffering with bouts of temperature and sickness. He has started waking at night, and appears awake, but suddenly starts to shake uncontrollably and then goes into a state of panic and shouts ' give me food, I need food' His voice is so desperate and he is in a state of terror. He hallucinates, convinced someone is after him. He will then grab hold of me for protection and seems to be okay monentarily, only to be off again, running in a state of panic, demanding water or food! Like Trish, my child shakes incontrollably and his eyes are glazed and wide. I too felt sure he was having some type of siezure! Eventually he calms after about 20 minutes and appears exhausted! Hope this information helps, in particular Trish.
My 9 year old son suffers from night terrors, my husband and I find it absolutely terrifying to see him screaming and running about his room. We usually bring him into our bed and stroke his hair, remove his pyjamas and give him calpol to bring his temperature down. He tries to talk to us like he knows we are there but his speech sounds bizarre and he looks (and screams) at monsters he is seeing in his mind. The thing that scares me the most is that he says he hears strange voices in his head - things like "shut up stupid", and this carries on through the following day, he is very panicky about it and says he feels like someone keeps pushing a button and making everything go fast or far away. I have tried to reassure him that it is just because he is hot, his brain is getting things all mixed up but really I don't know very much at all about why he is experiencing these things. I've began to notice that his night terrors seem to coincide with playing on the xbox or playstation for long periods of time. Could this be the problem? Lisa
I am the mother of a 9 year old boy who periodocally experiences night terrors. Last night was the worst. I had just fallen asleep (he had been asleep about 2 hrs) and was awaken with a screaming, "MOM!". No parent likes to hear screaming while they are sleeping and those of us who have children with NT's know what we are in for. Running down the hall to see him, I found him leaning over the side of his bed (almost a bunk bed, but not that high). I actually thought he was going to dive off the bed. It's amazing what adrenalin can do so I basically pulled him back so he didn't jump or dive off. They say that your child heart beats 150 bpm while they are having a NT, but I believe the parents is right up there as well. He climbed down the ladder and ran into his bathroom. (It's interesting to read that a lot of children have to use the bathroom during an NT, something I hadn't heard before). After he went, he ran out of the bathroom, down the hall, through our bedroom and into our bathroom. It was like he was crazed. It's 11pm and I am literally chasing my son through the house, trying to keep him from harms way. He ran into our bathroom, pulled off his pj bottoms and went to the bathroom again. (no wiping, although needed. This details seems important because he didn't seem to know that he needed to wipe himself.) He didn't put his pj bottoms back on and then ran to his room, screaming. I'm so terrified that he will lean over the banister and fall down the stairs. It's like a very bad movie, you run through the house, chasing your children, praying that they don't get hurt. Talk about being helpless. I do see that as a common element of all of the postings that I have read, the helplessness - it's reassuring to know that I'm not alone, but scary to know that so many others have gone through it. I do have a husband, who seems to be sleeping through all of this unless I wake him up. Last night was the first night he actually experienced his first hand, it scared him as well. Finally, after 15 very long minutes, my son came out of it. This morning, he remembered only being awake in the middle of the night. He also said that he remembered me tapping him on the cheek. (out of absolute desparation, from a non-spanking parent, I tapped him, not hard, on his cheek, not slapped, but I did try to get him 'out of it'). Having a child with NTs is terrifying. It's one of those things that a pediatrician should prep all parents for. I work with psychiatric issues so fortunately I do not believe in demonic possession. Otherwise, I would think that my child was somehow possessed, was being abused and that I didn't know it, had experienced some terrible stress that he was keeping inside, and many other horrible things. Reading this site makes me feel like it's a stage that some children go through and make it out just fine. Until that -making it out- happens to us, I will just hope that the episodes are few and far between.
I remember at that time of my life, as a 9 year old child, I had dreams that telephone poles were falling on me. They never actually hit me, but I remember them falling. I wonder if this can be heridetary. I also have a 12 year old son who experienced a few NTs, mostly with spiders involved. He seemed to have about a dozen of them before they subsided around around age 8. He also seems to have grown out of them, but does have some memory of dreaming and being afraid of spiders. I remember him trying to wipe the spiders off of himself, asking me to get them off. Screaching, crying, panicing, all of those things that seeme to be a common theme. I personally feel that the helpless of it all is what we all fear the most. I know that's how I feel. I'm supposed to make all of the ugly go away for my children and when a parent is helpless, it feels just awful. With all of that said, I want to thank you for all the postings, I actually had tears running down my cheeks reading some of the postings. Also, thank you to the volunteer Mom that is maintaining this web site, you are a great service to many. Kate
Reading these messages is like finally seeing a very difficult jigsaw puzzle assembled for the first time. Our 22 month-old son has had problems since 6-months with occasionally waking up between 11:00 p.m. - 2:00 a.m. and crying uncontrollably. These usually last for approx. 1-hour and he is completely inconsolable during this time, with no memory of it in the morning. I suspected that they were night terrors, but until now I didn't realize the "interconnectedness" of the following:
1. claustrophobic - hates sheets/blankets, and won't sleep in footsie pajamas.
2. They mostly happens when:
He is overtired or congested due to a cold.
His schedule has been changed.
He is dressed too warmly.
Now I have some idea how to minimize their recurrence, and how to mitigate them when they DO occur. Thanks to everybody who took the time to share their experiences. Tom
Ive read a lot of the comments about night terrors and my son (who is 2 years old) does appear to be having night terrors, however, when he has them he hallucinates and sees things on either my wife or me or is frightened of his own hands or feet. After a time he calms down but this happended 3 times in one night recently, he is also fully awake during this. Is this still a night terror? - Darren
My son is 6 and about 3 weeks or more ago started waking up usually on Sunday nights and I just thought he was over tired or something from the weekend. Since then it has been every night! He wakes up screaming and crying, he is all sweaty and can not tell me what is so terrifying. From reading these posts I see this is typical of night terrors but what about it happening every night? Nothing in our household has changed and I just don't know what has triggered this. He has always slept with socks on and can not stand to be uncovered at all so keeping his feet uncovered is not an option. I am very happy to have found this site but it just makes me worry more because his are so frequent. Should I seek professional help? or wait to see if this goes away on it's own. I just don't know how to handle this. Thank you in advance for your help. Tricia
Last week, after almost 2 years of my son sleeping with my husband and I, we finally got him a big full bed. He loves it! We were releived. Unfortunatly, he got a cold and has been quite stuffy, no fever. My husband and I have taken turns trying to sleep by his side and then once he is asleep we leave and go to our bed. I still have his baby monitor and listen in on him that way. He also has a blankie and until recently, has his pacifier, which he only took when home and nap/nightime. Recently, cause of his cold and stuffiness, he started to gag and almost vomited, it was my last straw and I took and hid his pacifier. My son is almsot 4 years old. He seemed to be ok with that, and we have been telling him that we are going to send the pacifier to Mickey mouse for him to give to other needy babies. Anyways, this past week he has been waking with screams, thrashing and just really going nuts....I have tried to calm but I couldt...it would get me angry cause i didnt know what to do...or what it was....after 20 mins of me sternly telling him its mommy, and stop and stop he would and go back to sleep after i massaged his feet, thinking maybe its growing pains cause he keeps saying my feet hurt. Last nite, exactly 2 hrs after he fell asleep, i herd him moaning and then he screamed "NO" and "mommy". I ran in and he was sitting up screamming hysterically as if someone was hurting/killing him. I tried to hold him, it made it worse he fought me with superhero stength...almost kicked me in the face. His eyes were wide open but glazed....he didnt see or recognize me....it freaked me out....I was alone, my husband was at work. It seemed as if he was having a fit/seizure...I almost died....So much was running through my head. I must have tried to hold him down, ask him if he wants milk or water or me for what seemed and eternity.I was sooo horrified...i was going to grab him and run to the emergency....he was soo scared but i didnt realize even though his eyes were open, he was still asleep. I picked him up and walked into the light but he started to hit me and punch me and finally he awoke and realized it was me. He hugged me and held on tight. In the middle of it all, he was saying "I cant see." So, I thought he was going blind and he was scared because of it. I was hysterical and clalled my husband at work who sped so fast home in panic and called my mother over cause i just didnt know. The other thing is that my husband has told me that it is a little stuffy in the room on the occassion he has slept in it....could be the heat as I have read above from the other messages. today at school i was talking to his teacher telling her he may b cranky cause he hasnt slept very well, and she told me about Night terrors. She used to get them when she was little. Now reading this website, I cant beleive it....I am releived to see this is what he has or at least has the symptoms for. I was ready to take him to the doctors for tests. I will try some of the things that the mothers I read tried before I take him to the doctors. Thank you so much!
After another night last night, I decided to do some reading on the subject and found this site. It is definitely nice to know we are not alone. I did want to share a couple of thoughts. First, I wanted to tell Jennie from Dec 2005 that I have seen similar activity with my son, Michael who is 6. He usually shakes uncontrollably as if he is very cold/scared. He hasn't bitten his cheek, but I could see how it can happen. He does seem to prefer being held, though he continues to call for me as if he is being held by a stranger. Sometimes he does point at an invisible "person/creature" as he screams incoherently.
Second, I can't exactly remember his first episode but it has been a few years. After reading some of the comments about being related to surgery, I am going to try and remember as he had surgery when when he was 3.
I found the comment about using the bathroom most interesting. Michael's older brother wet his bed well in to his teens before we found a treatment that worked - we found it was a sleep disorder. Once the disorder was addressed, the bed wetting stopped. Similarly, Michael appears to have the same disorder and we were planning to start the same treatment this summer. I am hopeful that perhaps the 2 are related and we may cure both at the same time. Interestingly, though, Michael has an identical twin brother that has nightmares like any average child, but does not share the bed wetting or NTs.
Fortunately, Michael hasn't tried to run through the house, just sits up or thrashes in bed. However, reading that this can occur makes me a bit nervous since he sleeps in the top bunk of a bunk bed.
Thanks to all for your experiences. Hopefully, I have helped someone with mine. Jennifer
Our son is five and just had his first ones, two in one night. I have never been so terrified and nothing we did comforted him. He said we looked scary to him.
I am so thankful for this site and not to be alone. I thought I might lose it until I saw all these postings and how similar our experiences are.
The night before last my 6 year-old daughter, Madeleine, had another night terror. She had these severely a couple of years ago, just before her father's and my separation. We thought it was stress, and at first thought she was in some way tantrumming and making things tough for us. She would thrash about and then mumble things like, "stop it" and "help" and odd stuff. She'd also say, "put my blanket on" and then immediately kick it off and start over again. At first, we tried to soothe her by holding her and, wow, did that ever make things worse. Her screaming and ranting and ravings were particularly bad during the summer they started, and the police were called twice. We didn't know what to say but that she was tantruming. I didn't understand what was up. My sister had done some research and mentioned "night terrors" back then, but the idea of "terror" didn't seem to fit--she was more irritable, striking out with her fists and words.
We used to argue back at her rantings back then, and she'd get louder or more faraway. One time, after an episode, she sat in the livingroom with her dad, while I was supposed to be attempting sleep. I could hear him trying to reason with her and her speaking irritably. She then started spitting and drooling. I could hear this and had witnessed some of this once. I knew she just couldn't be really all there, that somehow she was in some other world (also, she would have the disconnected look in her eyes). So, I marched out of bed in some sort of supermom mode, picked her up, and told her father I was going to put her under a cold shower. He tried to stop me, but I marched her into the shower, knowing I had to snap her out of this insanity, and after a few seconds of horror from the cold water, she snapped out of it. She spoke in her normal, soft voice, and had a normal look in her eyes. All symptoms were gone. She was no longer "possessed." I guess I should have looked into the whole subject more. After her dad and I split up and the stress decreased, I noticed fewer, though a neighbor complained and said he was moving out partly because of how loud we were at night, that my daughter was always screaming and that he questioned our parenting. I guess I might have tuned out the screaming after awhile. I knew she did so but it was more manageable, and I guess there is so much lack of sleep one can handle. Over the last year or so I haven't noticed but much, just some of the rolling back and forth, but not the angry words and sitting up (oh, and she used to be all sweaty, she'd have a cold, sweaty head, just like everyone described). That was until night before last. She's been stressed lately (a possibility of our moving, issues with school/homework, an ailing old cat,...) and doing things like pulling her arms through her shirt sleeves and sometimes pinching herself. The night she had her night terror, she had had a tantrum and was worked up. Then came bed and two episodes that night, and my finding your website. I want to print out these pages here in case the police or a worried neighbor come knocking ever again. I want them to know that her rantings and screaming have nothing to do with abuse. We are decent parents, who on occasion, must witness something that for us is also terrifying. I know one is going to hear of it (probably in a Lifetime movie of the week) about a child who is taken from her parents because neighbors hear nightly screamings for "help" and "go away", "take it away", and "don't touch me" and "Mama, mama!" REPEATEDLY. I hope more is shared elsewhere about this phenomenon. This is the only sight I found that shares so widely. THANK YOU. Linda
I am not a mother, rather an aunt that keeps my nephews on the weekend sometimes. 3 days ago I was keeping my nephew of 4 over night, his oldest brother of 18 was there also. He fell asleep in the car and we had just laid him on the couch. He woke a little from carrying him in the house but when we laid him down he went back to sleep. My oldest nephew reminded me that we needed to put a pull-up on him before he was any deeper in sleep, he sometimes wets the bed when he stays. So we took his shoes off and I started pulling his jeans off when he woke up. He immediately started shaking and I could feel his legs tense up. She looked at me with complete fear in his eyes. The only way I can describe it was that my face was peeling away and I was revealing a hideous monster. He sat us and started screaming. My oldest nephew grabbed him and said to him, "wake up...Bruce wake up!" I tried to confort him but this only seemed to make it worse. Finally he ran from the couch into the dinning room where he looked around the room crying and screaming. My husband informed me not to touch him and let him go through the process. And with in 15 mins it was over. He came back into the living room and sat on the couch. Soon he was asleep again. In the morning when I questioned him he just smiled at me and did not seem to remember what happened. According to my oldest nephew this happens alot and his other brother who is 6 years old does it too. My first thought was someone had molested him or he saw something very disturbing in his life. But now that I have read some other incounters of night terrors I wonder if this could be it. How do I inform his mother that this is the problem and what can be done to help him, will it cause problems for him in adulthood and do the night terrors relate to anything that has happened in his life? He has not had an easy life at 4 years old, he has watched his father beat up his mother, watched his father be taken to jail and watched his mother do drugs of all sorts. I want to
help, I just don't know how.
To Jennie, January 2006 letter
It's two in the a.m. and my son just had an episode that sounds identical to your son. He woke up shortly after falling asleep, teeth chattering, cold to touch, agitated, unsure of what was wrong, a fear for his father and me, that something would happen to us. My son is also 9 years old.
I feel like crying. I couldn't sleep and decided to research what might be going on with him. Now I know we're not alone in this. Tonight he had a friend sleepover, so they went to bed late. Plus, his friend brought over his playstation 2 for them to play. Two things I've read may trigger episodes. And the only two things that seem to precede the two episodes he's had before. There have been other night terrors, but I didn't realize this is what they were, and they are very infrequent to date. We have two other children, one who wet the bed till he was 5, and a 4 year old girl that often wakes up upset and ends up in our bed. Thank you for this site.
Our son will be 9 this summer. He has experienced NT for a couple of years but not on a regular basis. I seem to be the only one that can console him and calm him either back to sleep or awake.
He awakens screaming and wants me to hold him and then pushes me away, then grabs me to hug and pushes away. He usually has his hands clenched and will be agitated as if trying to get away from something. If I try to take him from his bed he gets more upset. He doesn't want his feet on the ground. He too shakes, teeth chatters and appears very much awake. He will answer most questions but does not respond positively to my husband and sees him as some kind of monster (he is the most gentle man....)
I have found that taking him and getting him to pee helps to wake him. Perhaps because this is an action that requires you to be consciously performing it - we spend so long teaching them not to go unless in the toilet and they need to relax to do this, o rbecause the tile on the floor is cold. If I try to wash his hands after he freaks out because of the mirror and our images in it.
I also find he has them when he is too hot in bed. He doesn't seem to remember much in the am, just the feeling. My younger son shares a room and just calls to us to get him and then falls back to sleep. How? I don't know.
I remember having very vivid dreams and being awake when I was in my 20's. Usually if I had done something different before going to bed - perhaps my anxiety level was high.
I think I had my son figured out before seeing this site but it has been really helpful for my husband to know that he is not the only one and that ou son doesn't have psychological difficulties.... I can't wait for him to grow out of it, or for them to disappear.
I was so glad to read your comments from everyone. Both of my sons suffered occasionally from night terrors as toddlers but my now 9 year old son has began to have them again. Although I did know what they were I was not aware of the significance of him being afraid of his hands and/or saying his hands hurt and shaking them uncontrollably in the air. I also did not know about the cooling of the feet and will absolutely be doing this tonight. Thank you every one for sharing. This is such a challenge as we all want to 'save' our children when they are so obviously terrified. Karla
Hi I have a 5 year old son who has suffered with night terrors since he was 2, but have recently got worse, it always seems to happen a hour into his sleep he sits up in bed screaming and crying and sweating, he also talks through it, pleading for something but we don't know what, alot of the time we can't understand what he is saying, last night when it happened I brought him into the lounge and he calmed down after about 5 mins and went back to sleep, I then put him back into his bed a hour later and he was fine for the rest of night,having found this web page today and reading some of the comments, Im wondering if it was the back ground noise of the television that made him calm down so quickly,tonight I am going to try to cool him down when it happens, as I haven't heard of this before, but it is nice to know we are not on our own. Thanks everyone natalie
Hi, I am typing this with tears rolling down my face. My son started NT's at about 3 yrs old although we had no clue what they were. He went on for nearly an hour at a time; I have been hit in the face by him and obviously felt that I provided my son with incredible terror by being in the room. This had subsided but tonight, now 5 years old, in the midst of a flu virus this terrible night visitor returned. I kept telling him 'Mummy's here' but he kept screaming 'no' then calling for me. I was sobbing unable to take this terror away. We eventually got him to the toilet, which I have read tonight another Mum found helpful, once finished he walked towards me and finally relaxed in my arms and hugged me. I once again sought comfort in the internet and this website has provided just that. Interesting the feet theory; will definately give that a go next time; anything to save my son screaming and thrashing like he does. Once he had hugged me my husband and I asked him if he had just had a bad dream he replied 'No' proof that as bad as it looks they have no recollection of these episodes this may provide just a little comfort to any Mum as upset as I am. Thank you for being there and for everyone sharing their experiences.
hey everyone. i'm sixeen and i have had night terrors for quite a few years
now. it started young, but once and a while, they recur. as helen said, i
usually get them when i have a high fever. i don't usually remember that i had
them at all. but sometimes, i can get a kind of de je vu and remember a
strange picture or scene from a disturbing dream, usually a few nights later.
it's terrifying to look back on. but i think the best thing for any of you to do is
to try and comfort your children. only try to question them on the experience
in the morning, just in case they are actually awake. you don't want to put any
more extra stress on them. just do all you cn to comfort them, and ride it out.
hope i can help. Matt
My wife and I have a 2 1/2 year old daughter who started experiencing night terrors around the 2 year mark. They had been progressively getting worse- up to 30 minutes of massive hysteria, screaming, kicking, flailing, etc., all while still asleep/eyes closed. My wife and I had to intervene because she was so 'crazy' she would hit her head and legs on the bed posts. Had I not researched night terrors, I honestly would have thought that my daughter was possessed. It was that bad.
I spent many hours online researching all the 'academic' sources... mayo clinic, local hospital websites, all the standard parenting books, etc. They all say the same things, and nothing in the way of practical advice, other than to let the episode pass. Well, this wasn't good enough for me... so I kept looking and found your website with all suggestions from other parents, and WE FOUND A SOLUTION THAT WORKED!!!
As soon as an episode begins, my wife and/or I rush into our daughters room, uncover her FEET, and blow on them to cool them off- they were BURNING HOT. As soon as we do this, 10 seconds later our daughter is sound asleep and sleeps through the night. We have not had one last longer than 5-10 seconds since then (yeah, that's the sound of me knocking on my wood desk). We've also started removing all her covers as soon as she is asleep. I don't know why this works, and quite frankly, I don't care why. I just wish all the literature and medical sites gave a list of 'why-not-try-this' solutions.
My daughter Katria (3 in june) has been having what i think is night terrors.
It has been happening for a while on and off but this week its happened every night and i just don't know what to do.
She Wakes up screaming, runs onto the landing and goes like she's going mad. She will lay down on the floor kicking, arms flying every where she even head butts the wall, trys to attack me and her dad as we try to calm her down but nothing will.
We try asking her whats wrong but we can't understand what she is saying as she is in such a state, this
goes on for ages.
Last night she had one then we manage to get her back to sleep (it does look like she is still in a sleep state) then at 6.00am she had another one, i got into bed after feeding Alina her sister who is 4 months and i just touched her as i was getting back in and she started attacking me telling me to go away then her dad put her in her bedroom and told her to go back to sleep she went mental she trashed her bedroom, same sort of thing and she has only just calmed down.
I don't know if its night terrors or something is not quite right.
i just need some advice, i was thinking of videoing her like this and maybe showing our doctor to seee what they think.
My son has night terror from age 1 to 6 we found he is allergic to milk. if he get a milk product like whey,cassiene ,milk, butter and cheese. he will get a slight rash 24 t0 36 hours after exposed, and the full night terror one of the night in between exposure and rash, that last from 30 min to 2 hours-can not touch him, scratches, does not want you there, does not want you to leave, screaming, then like a light switch in his head switches, he hugs us and goes back to bed ,and we ask him the next day do not remember anything and he thinks we are playing a joke on him.. as he has gotten older it has lessen and not as often . but if he by accident he get a cookie at school, butter, like at a restaurant , butter vegetable, steak or chicken brushes with butter before they are serve, most breads,some hot dogs, all have these milk product and cause his night terrors. he also now also has night sweats. Food allergies caused his night terror. Ken
I have a 6 year old who has been having night terrors since October 2005. Two days after finding out he had strep troat, my husband and I heard him crying and went to see what was wrong. We found him curled up in bed crying and saying the oddest things. We took him to the emergency room and the doctors thought we were nuts!!!and we were that night!!!! We thought he had a reation to some Triaminic medicine I gave him because of his strep. He then again had two more that morning. He has had strep, sinus infection, ear infections ever since October to January 2006. He has been on antibiotic three times since October. I have had him from peditrician to Ear Nose and Troat and Allergist. His tonsil are a little big but not the worst they have seen. I do not know about his adnoids but I think they are big, I can not get any doctors to check them for me. We had him scheduled for his tonsil to come out in January but after the last dose of Zithromax he seemed to get better. !
I also started to give him Acidophilus (Good Bacteria like yogart) because of him being on so much antibiotics, the anibiotics kill all bacteria even good bacteria your body needs, so I thought we would try to put back the good bacteria and it seemed to work. We started to watch every thing he ate and tried to elimated sugar and white flour and never give him anything after 6:30pm. He goes to bed around 8-8:30 and we continued to make him go at this time to get him on a schedule, so he get a good amount of sleep. He did not have a terror for two months and we thought it was all over. I continued to give him the Acidophilus two chewable pills in the moring before he eats breakfast. These NT went from every night to none. Well my husband and I went away for a few days and when we came back his night terrrors started again and he has had one every night since. We are trying to figure out what might be triggering these again, the time change, he has had alot of milk wh!
ich he does not drink at home but has had at school, and one thing we
elimated was peanut butter sandwhiches and he has had about three in the last week and a half. We are trying to figure all this out. We really think his problem is linked to digestion. We think foods he has been eating is triggering these NT. We love this web site and are so thankful for all you writing your episodes of night terrors and we are glad we are not alone........Lesa
Like most others I dont have any magic bullet answer on this one. One thing I noticed was that when my son ate more sugar he would be more likely to have a terror. However it was very incosistent. Then I heard something about caffine and had a eureka moment, maybe it wasnt the sugar but instead the caffeine in the chocolate?
Still too many other factors and its only a small component but eliminating the caffine "seems" to have helped a little.
Also, cold air, letting him fall asleep without a shirt or blanket, and keeping the lights on "seem" to help a little. Alex
i have read many of your letters but not one said that their child has seizure like actions, like full body tricthing. my daughter is 2 and her eyes are close. she screaming when she stops tricthing she is going for a sleep study tomorrow. the dr. believe these are nt and they are very much like the ones of other children have but she does push us away. And when she does start falling to sleep if her body tricthes she start to cry again. are these really nt. i will let you know how she make out after her sleep study. Donna
We have a little girl who is going to be 4 in June 06. She has been having Night Terrors for about 6 months now. She will wake crying and screaming. She will sometimes talk but it makes no sense. Just sound mostly. She will sometimes look at my husband and I as if we are the cause of her terror and we cannot let her see her own reflection in a mirror. They last about 10 to 15 minutes and she will rub her feet up and down her legs really hard. Up until now we have found that keeping her cool will sometimes help. I will try the cool water on her feet next time. What has seemed to help in the last couple weeks is waking her up about 1-2 hours after she falls asleep. My concern is that she refuses to go to bed by herself and has in the last few months become a permanent fixture in our bed. She seems afraid to go to her room alone although she shares a room with her 7 year old sister that sleeps on the top bunk. I am afraid if we push putting her to bed alone that it
will cause more stress that in turn might cause more frequent or more intense NT.
My husband had NT as a child and still has them occationally now as a 34 year old adult. As an adult he notices them only when he is sick and running a very high fever. He has an terrible fear of ghosts and aliens. We used to tease him a lot until we found out about what NT were all about. He only recalls 1 or 2 NT as an adult that involved ghosts. We now belive that it may be the reason he refuses to see scary movies.
My daughter was never scared of anything until her NT started. She now has a fear of bugs of any kind or size. The smallest tiny bug will bring her to tears running and crying. I wonder if maybe that is what she dreams during her NT.
She is very small for her age weighing only 28 lbs at almost 4 years old and struggles with growing pains in her legs. So some nights I will give her Tylenol or Motrin. She has yet to have an NT on those nights.
Thank you so much for this web site. I was relieved to know that we are not the only family trying to figure this all out.
Wishing all those little children a good nights sleep....
Though last night was not the first, we had a terrible episode with our 4 year old daughter. Last night was so bad that we started looking into night terrors as a possible option. I am fairly convinced that night terrors are the culprit, but have noticed that our daughters behavior varies significantly from most of what I have read on this site. Our daughter will come downstairs to our bedroom and then start whining by my side of the bed. The whining quickly turns to crying/screaming accompanied by kicking of her legs and flailing of her arms. Because we have had recent issues with potty accidents, it was my first thought that she needed to use the bathroom and then would go back to sleep (this has happened many times before.) Last night, however, when we took her to the bathroom, she continued to scream as though possessed by a demon and kicked uncontrollably while on the toilet. This varies significantly from most of the stories because there is no look of terror on her face nor does she seem panicked in any way. In hindsight, we are fairly certain that she is not awake and was having a night terror episode because the rest of the symptoms match.
Tonight I will try turning down the air in the house and possibly add a soothing fragrance to her humidifier (as suggested on another site.) My only reservation with attributing this to night terrors instead of a behavioral issue or manipulating us to get out of bed, is that the night terror actions are very similar to how she reacts when she doesn't get her way...fully awake.
Any suggestions or comments would be greatly appreciated since we are just getting started on this road. Cheri
Hi, I was just reading this website and saw a question regarding night terrors. My son is now 9 and started having night terrors years ago. Most likely he gets them when he is sick but sometimes gets them for no real rhyme or reason. We have found that keeping the light off, rubbing his back lightly and speaking calmly works well. Also, one thing that seemed to help instantaneously was to take his socks off and uncover his feet to cool them off. Ususally when we do this he does not have another one that night. Hope this helps.
Susan, Hingham MA
My 11 yr old son has NT just when I thought they were getting better and not so frequent then he had 3 in one week. The thing that we have found comforting to him(although he doesn't get out of control like some) is he can't get out of the episode and is really feeling scared and strange to himself, so he wants to get into the shower goes through the whole process of washing hair, body etc and finally (while I stay in the room) he will peek out of the shower after a few minutes and gives me that million dollar smile and I know he is ok. But they are the most creepy, freaky helpless situations I have ever been in. To top it off it is your child, but during the episode the way they look at you like you are the one scaring him, pupils are huge, eyes glazed, mumbling who knows what, ducking and doodging whatever it is flying at them. Twitching, sweating, panicked it is so undescribable feeling as a parent to witness, his older sister is scared to death of him while he is having one, she says he even looks scary!!! and he is such a sweet heart would give you his bottom dollar and never harm anyone- but for now we will try deal with these as the appear.. Good luck with everyone and their NT-hold them and let them know you love em...Thanks to the mom who keeps this page going, you keep me going knowing that i am not alone-or is my son...Dawn
My 6 year old daughter has been having NT for most of her young life,even after years of them i am still terrified of them.my daughter will wake up screaming and sometimes running around the house.she is so frightened of me that i feel i am to blame for the terrors.she will be crying for mummy and then she will hold out her arms to someone who is not there.they are so real and frightening at the time,but the next morning will not remember a thing.i have found that carressing her and softly singing helps her to relax and after about half hr she will drop off back to sleep. thankyou for this site,reading your letters has helped alot. Leanne in Australia
Thank you to everyone who has posted their experiences. It helps to know there is a place to share our situation and learn from others! My son is 4.5 years old and started with NT's about 6 months ago. His natural tendency is to be warm and sweaty before bed, so I've taken away the socks, reduced the number of blankets/sheets, and lowered the A/C. I tried the "cool towel" idea on his feet last night - it really helped! I typically keep the lights down/out and talk to him calmly while rocking him. He grabs at us and says things I've never heard him say. Last night was the first time we found him outside his room. It's scary to think he's sleep walking. We've had to baby-proof with gates etc..all over again, to be sure he's safe. There hasn't been any significant changes in his life or added stress (that I know of!). However, each NT seems to occur when he's been either over tired or has a slight fever. Good luck to everyone and please send any new ideas!
Our 7 year old son started with NT just out of the blue one night about 3 months ago, with all the patterns and symtoms. Thank God for Google (I'm from Philadelphia), which is how I found your site. Some posters mentioned the 7-night wake-up treatment (developed by an English doctor), and that was also mentioned by our pediatrician, who really didn't know what else to say. Well..we tried it and it worked! He's been 2 weeks completely NT free, and he was having them every night.
Basically, you establish the timing of when your child normally starts the NT. Then, for 7 nights IN A ROW you wake the child 15 minutes before the usual NT time. Make sure he/she is REALLY AWAKE. Lights on, out of bed, talking coherently, whatever. Keep them awake for 5 minutes, even if they beg to go back to sleep. For the first few nights we did this he would have a mild NT, but eventually they stopped, and it FEELS like we're home free.
It felt a little cruel at first, cause the little guy was in such a deep sleep and I had to be determined to really wake him up; no groggy half-sleep allowed. But it has sure paid off for us, so perhaps it'll work for others. The English MD claims a 90% success rate. He does say that if it's not working, to give it some time (not clear on how long "some" is) and then repeat the 7-day cycle one time.
Good luck everyone! Micah in Philadelphia
My son is 7 years old, we live in the UK and these things aren’t discussed
as widely here as they are in US, we have been struggling to find answers
other then those offered by our Dr who will simply brush them off as
childish nightmares. And anyone who has seen a NT knows that a simple
nightmare it is NOT!! . he has had night terrors on and off for a couple
of years now, having read a lot of other peoples experiences I too now
notice the pattern of NT's after only 1 -2 hours sleep, & during hotter
nights/ warmer weather, it is sometimes as much of a NT for the awake
parent trying desperately to console an inconsolable child who is throwing
themselves about, staring at you as if you are the cause not the comfort!
one thing I have done that I haven’t read about on your web site yet is
that I did buy him a “Dream Catcher" this has defiantly helped ( for
people who may not have heard of them it is an old Indian -thing -it is
basically a circle often made of willow with wool or cotton spun around it with a small hole in the middle – this lets the
good dreams through- and often has beads and / or feathers hanging from
the circle, you then hang the Dream catcher at the foot of the child’s bed
and on a full moon hang it in a window to cleanse ) this may all start to
sound like mumbo jumbo but within one or two nights the NT’s where
defiantly lessened from 3-8 times a night to only occasional bursts, I
cant explain it, it is as much of a mystery to me as to how it works as
the night terrors themselves.
Thank you so much to every one who has posted suggestions and shared their
experiences, reading your web site has certainly made me feel like we
aren’t alone with this problem; he is currently going through one of his
occasional busts this week and I am going to try all of the suggestions
made one by one. Kind regards Nickie.
My son is 9 yrs old and a couple years ago I believe we had our first experience with what I now believe to be night tremors. It lasted for a few weeks that time as well. Four weeks ago it all started over again. He had a flu bug the 1st night and pretty much vomited most of the night. The second night, he vomited again, but had these frightening screams before he got sick and even after that did not appear to be awake. His whole body is shaking and he is screaming that either someone is after him or points to things that aren't there, and just talks in riddles. His movements are very fast and I usually have to run to keep up to where he is going at the time, usually to the bathroom. He usually spits up something each night or thinks he has to?? He took off his pj's the other night in the bathroom and proceeded to take a shower.. He said he needed to clean up because he could smell vomit..He hadn't gotten sick that night? It was 2:00am.. It has been starting at least a couple hours after he goes to bed. What usually seems to work for me is taking a cold/warm wash cloth and trying to wake him up by washing his face and talking very soothing to him, sometimes I have to hold him as well. My husband usually sleeps thru the screaming and carrying on as well.
There is nothing dramatic going on in his life right now, no big changes or events other than being out of school for the summer. He is definately a child with an active/creative imagination and ADHD. I don't know if any of these things play a factor in night tremors but I thought it might help someone. I have had to put a baby monitor in his room in order to get to him fast enough when this happens as my son sleeps on the opposite end of the house from us. There have been quite a few nights that I just let him sleep on the floor in our room so I am closer to help him when it happens 2-3 times a night...He never remembers a thing in the morning. I really was beginning to think that my son was having some kind of psychotic episode again until I read some of these stories. Thank you everyone for sharing your stories. I think its helped me and I know we can get through this time again.
My two year old son recently (3weeks ago) had his tonsils and adenoids removed. Since that time he has been experiencing night terrors every night. The surgery and recovery were pretty traumatic for him, so I'm assuming that may have brought on the terrors. So far I've tried everything (no feet pj's, cold water, waking him, etc...)so far nothing has worked until last night. I remember giving him Tylenol Cold and Cough when he was sick and it always helped him sleep. Well last night I gave him some before bed and he slept from 8:00 p.m. until 7:00 a.m. Hooray! I hate to give him medicine if he doesn't need it, but after 3 weeks of not sleeping it was a welcome relief for all (I should mention that we have a 8 week old baby as well). Anybody have any idea why this particular type of medicine would help, especially since it only lasts 4 hours? I'm thinking we might have to just ride this thing out, and perhaps use the tylenol a couple times a week to catch up on sleep.!
Thanks for any advice, this website is great. Carrie
Thanks for all the suggestions and advice on this webpage.
Our Stephen is 3 and has experienced NTs since before he turned 2. We noticed they started around the time we moved house and also when his younger brother was born. Both were fairly stressful times for us and so we felt Stevo's NTs were probably a consequence, in some way, of what was going on in our lives and it was affecting him - although there was no visible sign of him being bothered in the slightest during the day. They have also started again this past week( probably related to his recent going to bed nappyless, which, incidentally,has been pretty successful! )
Although Stephen is a happy, well loved and impeccably behaved little boy (he really is!) he does probably get a little anxious sometimes when there is a change in his life or to his routine. This tends to coincide with his NTs which come and go.
We have tried the cold water on his feet but it didn't work, sadly, I was absolutely convinced that it would because it seemed to be so successful for so many other parents. What does tend to work best is waking him just before he reaches the point where he has been sleeping for an hour (the time when he always has his terror) and disrupting his sleep pattern: it does seem to readjust things and he doesn't have a NT after that. He would only ever have one NT on the offending nights but this interruption eradicated this.
Stephen always goes to bed at 7pm, he goes happily and never remembers anything at all the following day about the terror. This gives us some consolation, to know that the NTs are bothering us more than him, he seems to be oblivious.
Our main concern is that although we know they will go away, like they always do, there is no guarantee that they won't come back. We're simply hoping that it is a phase which will eventually pass altogether and that he will simply grow out of it. We therefore find it disconcerting to know that a lot of adults still suffer.
David & Lindsey in the UK
Hey, I am new to this site and to the night terrors! I have a 3 1/2 year old and a 16 month old that are both still in my bed, which that is not a problem for me. However, my 16 month old has been waking up in the night, crying out for the past 3 months, and 2 visits to the doctor and he suggested it being her teeth and a UTI once. Last night, my child seemed to be possesed (?), it really scared me and my husband seems to think she was just being stubborn. I took her to the doctor today and he says it is night terrors, so I came to this site, hoping someone can give me a little advise about it all. This started around 12:30 and ended around 4:00 a.m. I have to work and I am going back to school, married, 2 kids, and a husband, does anyone else suffer from being so tired and if so how do you manage to stay saine? I feel really bad that I could not help her last night, it was something that I hope she never does again, but he (the docotor) seems to think that this has been her problem for the last several months and last night was the big one. My question to you parents, is there something that I can do to prevent this or to help control how bad it gets.
my son started the night terrors at 2 yrs old
now he is 5 and they are getting worse.
he wakes up screaming and crying about every 15 minutes every night and they last for about 6 mins. Donna in the UK
My son is almost 2.5 years old and has been having what I consider night terrors
since he was born. I can't seem to find anyone who has had this happen to
them, not to mention the frequency: he has already had three tonight and it's
only midnight. He has woken up screaming many times a night, almost every
single night (there may be a total of two months without screaming) for his
entire life. Doctors don't take me seriously, my friends are sick of hearing me
say, "I'm so tired." I already do many of the things you all have listed: no socks,
no blankets, sound machines, consistent routine. However, he is so fearful of
sleep he now refuses to nap, and is clearly overtired. Needless to say, the
terrors are getting worse. I have a five-year old daughter who gets these as well
(and sleepwalks) but not nearly as often. I literally haven't slept in two and a
half years. Any help, advice, ANYTHING would be great!
Kristen, Durham, NC
I have two kids, Michael Who is five and Julianna who is 2 and both had experience Night terros.Michael started at age 2 and at the beginig was very scarry and we did not know what was happening, so we start to check on the internet and found many web sites about Night terrors and follow any tips to control it with no luck at all and then Julianna started at age 1 . We spended many nights with no sleep and at one point these events was happening every night with both of them. After one night crying over the phone with my Mom, she told me to move the position of their beds and I did it....it's been 3 months that I did that and the night terrors are gone.... At this point I don't know what happen but works for me, so if any one wants to do the same, do it!! and I hope it works for you too.
Sorry about my grammar...I'm Hispanic.
My 18 month old son has night terrors every night. He has been having them since he turned a year old. He had his heart re-built when he was 10 days old. He is on no medications or had any other surgeries. Just found out about his night terrors from his cardiologist. Not getting much help from the pediatrician. I was not sure what was going on with him. From a lot of things I have researched I have not heard anyone mention anything about surgery. Is is crazy to think that he can still recall some things from that early in life...does anyone know? I have been running to his room every night trying to comfort him by putting him in our bed. It used to work. Now I find him tossing and turning and not sleeping even doing that any more. Any advice???? Darlene
Solution for night terrors for older children: no night time water, juice, milk or anyt drink! My almost 8 year old son has been experiencing night terrors for almost 5 years. A few weeks ago, he experienced almost one terror nightly over a two week span! I discussed this with a doctor friend who communicated to me that often times it is the urgency of the need to urinated that causes them disturbance during REM sleep. Every terror ultimately ended up in a trip to the bathroom. Now that we have eliminated the night time drink, we seem to have curbed the night terrors. Absolutely none for the past 3 weeks! Soundly sleeping now, Karen
My son started having night terrors when he was around 2years, for many years I didnt know what was happening
until I saw a program on the BBC about sleep problems.
Their advice was to wake the child up about 20 minutes
before an episode happened. My son would get them around
the same time every night so I tried it and it worked.
Sometimes I forget to do this because his episodes have gone from ever night when he was 2yrs to around once a month now
he is 7yrs. When I have forgotten to wake him and he does have a NT he will vomit and nothing I can do will wake him.
After being sick he will go back to sleep all this will last about 10 minutes. Last night I tried something new
he woke up screaming so I took him into the bathroom and put his feet into cold water he woke up straight away and went back to sleep. He never remembers anything the next day. mellanie
We have a 3 year old daughter and 2 weeks ago she started having what i presume are night terrors. She starts with a scream and then a strange cry like i've never heard before, when i go in she is stood on her bed shaking from head to toe, eyes wide open and wet with persperation, she then starts trying to ask for things but gets even more upset because she dosent know what she wants. She will ask for "mummy" when it is me who is there. Tonight i tried leaving her feet uncovered and even putting a lighter cover on but that didnt work. They only last for about 10 mins but they are horrible and very upsetting (for me), as my daughter does not remember. If anyone has any more advice on things to try then i'd love to hear them. Lisa in the UK
Thank God for this web site. I can’t believe what some poor kids and parents have had to
endure! My heart breaks for all of you! Especially the ones who have experienced NTs for
years, or have had Peds who didn’t recognize it.
My (just turned) 5 year old son experienced three 10-15 minute episodes of night terrors 3
nights ago, or should I say “I” experienced them. It was the first time this had ever
happened. During the first episode I was just stunned, I thought he was having a seizure,
or took some medicine without my knowledge. He was moaning, whimpering, and 100% rigid.
Eyes shut the entire time, crying but no tears, pulled the sheet over his head. I told him
I was there, he’s OK, he’s safe, and told him to wake up. He briefly woke up (I think) and
I asked him, is it your tummy, booty, eyes, etc. – he said no to everything. Then he
clutched me until he fell asleep.
I sat on the couch shell shocked. NT was in the back of my mind, somewhere in my life I
had heard about it – maybe a news show, college class or something. While I was getting my
head together, the next episode began.
I ran into his room and tried to wake him up. He eventually woke up a smidge and I brought
him a sip of water. I moved him into my bed. He clutched me again and then fell asleep.
After this episode I dug up my American Pediatric Association handbook. There was one page
on NT vs. NMares. He did everything on the NT list. At last I knew what was going on. I
was till freaked out.
OK, round 3, he’s in my room now. I’m on the couch, hear the moans, I wake him up, ask him
what hurts, he tells me it’s his ears. The pain is “unbearable” he says. I’ve never heard
him say that word. I call my husband home from work, because I think we’re taking the
little guy to the ER (and I will stay home w/ our 3 y/old daughter). My husband comes home
and the NTS stopped-never fails.
I was so destroyed, I called the Kaiser Permanente Afterhours Adviceline (it was 1 AM), and
the advisor said he had never heard of night terrors and he thought my child had an ear
infection. The next day, my son didn’t remember anything and said his ears felt “great”. I
took him to the doctor and she ruled out the ear infection.
Last night it briefly started up. We woke him up, he said he didn’t want me to die, I said
I wont. He said he didn’t want to kill me – I said you won’t. I asked him how was this
going to happen. He made a shooting motion and told me it was a staple gun. He also said
his good dreams were on vacation until tonight. I’m hoping that he just needs some
downtime – his holiday break from school starts next week
These NTs are horrible. Thanks to all of you for your observations and tips – it really
helps! I’m trying to keep him cool in his bed – he does tend to get warm in there. And
I’m making sure he’s getting to bed earlier. I also noticed that he didn’t goof around on
the bad night (mommy I want x, y, z) – he just went quietly to sleep – which another
parent had noticed. I’m just a wreck and I have it easy – God bless the rest of you! Hang
Thank God for this site! My 7 year old has had 4 episodes this weekend. In hindsight his first was two months ago. He was sleeping in my bed (he usually sleeps with his brother) and woke gasping yelling "No, NO, NO". He was squeezing his eyes shuts and putting his fingers in his ears as if in terrible pain. Then running around as if the pain was so unbearable he was trying to run away from it. When I asked him if it was his ears, he said "Yes, No." Said he heard strange loud noises and voices screaming in his ear. Lasted about 10 min. Next day went to the pediatrician - turns out he had a double ear infection, so we THOUGHT the pain of the pressure had caused a sudden onset.
Until this weekend, when he woke early in the morning exhibitng the same types of behavior. Screaming, "Mommy, no no." then, "It's getting bigger. Wait, wait." And falling to his knees, pushing his head and ears and shaking uncontrollably. Since it was time to wake up (7 am) he was easily roused. He said that he couldn't really explain what had happened - he had pain radiating in his head, saw "flashing light" and "everything was smaller" (tunnel vision?) I immediately though of migraine since some types of migraine are accompanied by "auras" of sensory information that doesn't exist like noise, voices, visual disturbances, odd smells, etc.
But later that night he had another one - much more pronounced and longer. The obvious distress and apparent pain he was in was terrifying. The way he was clutching his ears and shaking, and the fact that he was mumbling jibberish and had such a vacant terrified look in eyes was horrible. My husand witnessed this with me and was so frightened. We thought he was having some kind of psychotic breakdown, or was having a brain hemorage or something. We DID call 911 and at the ER he had a CAT scan, which was normal. They DID show abnormally large adnoids, which others on this site have said may be linked to NT due to subconcious fear of not being able to breathe. I am going to call the ear nose throat guy tomorrow to make an appointment.
My son had yet another NT last night when the phone rang. (I have since turned off ringers upstairs.) At least for that one I had seen this site and felt a little better able to help. The TV really helped him. Towards the end of his NT he was lucid enough to say, "I don't want to sleep yet. I want to get this out of my head. I know its not real but it is still in my head." So we watched cartoon network for about 10 min.
He also suffers from sleep apnea and had a fever, which may have triggered it. Also, all four times he has been in my bed. Tonight I put him back with his brother. I also gave him Benadryl and put a vaporizer in his room to help ease his congestion a little in case that is what is triggering this. We talked alot about how other children experienced this same thing and that it didn't mean he was crazy or that something was wrong. That helped him a lot. It also helped him to know the other things that have helped other kids, like cool water, Tv, radio, etc.
My problem is that I work from home and have my computer in my room. I need to be able to work after my three kids go to sleep but all I want to do now is have him in bed with me. I now rationally I can't do anything but I have felt so helpless and shaky and vulnerable the last few days.
Reading all these stories has made me feel so much better - to know that we are definitely not alone and so many of the behaviors are shared by these kids. But I feel worse when I read how the NTs can get worse or more frquent, and I feel so panicked to think about that. How will I deal with it, where should he sleep, etc.?
Today we made up a name for his NT - "Brain Sucker" because his scary thing tries to hurt his head. I told him, "Mommy is with you. Daddy is with you. And most of all, God is with you and he is way bigger than Brain Sucker." Also I am a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and I said I would kick his Brain Sucker's butt. We laughed about it a little. I am hoping that he feels a little empowered or something. His fear carries over to the next day so I will definitely get a dream catcher. He is also very comforted by our priest, who I will call to have him blessed. Can't hurt!
Thank you to whoever is in charge of this iste. You are my angel. I feel connected and supported by all of you reading this site. We all love our kids and I am grateful that so many of you have shared so openly.
My son had nightmares/terrors every night until he was 41/2. I had heard a sleep doctor on the radio say they are just scared. Put two night lights in their room and make sure the windows are covered was his advice. We had a night light in the hallway outside his room - when I followed the advice above, my son actually slept through the night. He rarely wakes up for this reason any more - G
First, I want to thank everyone for their time and effort. The email postings were both comforting and helpful. We tried the cool compress on the feet suggestion and it really helped . Our 3 year old gently woke up and eventually fell back asleep without the crying. We were like hawks for weeks and finally found that it seemed that the night terrors were being triggered by the need to go to the bathroom. Our daughter drinks a lot of milk and it seemed that if she woke, went to the bathroom she would sleep peacefully. We started making it a routine for her to go before going to bed and cut back a bit on the milk and the terrors seem to have gone away. I hpe this helps and agin, THANK YOU TO EVERYONE. Good luck. Tom
My son is almost 7 yrs old and every night since he was 2 yrs old he has woken up with night terrors ranging from 1-30 minutes long of shaking, screaming, crying, sometimes running around the house, eyes wide seeing something?, muttering things you can't understand but is always calling for mommy. He never remembers the incident the next day. We are tired and frustrated because family and friends don't understand and they think something must have happened to our son. All you can do is reassure him that you are there and everything is fine and that you love him. In the last 6 months we have found that waking him after 1 hr sleep and a bathroom trip helps. During a NT we try to wake him up and once hes awake we get the biggest hugs and then he will just go right back to sleep, sometimes still whimpering. Its heart wrenching but I hope it ends soon. Shannon in Edmonton Alberta Canada
It was very interesting to read everyone's experiences. My son now 12 has had night terrors since he's been 3. With my son we find if he is sick with a fever that is what triggers his NT. He wakes up screaming, what he says changes from NT to NT but that look never does. What I find works for me is I take his hand and walk him through the house and point out things like the tv the fridge as I past through the room. I do this for about 2-3min and it seems to bring him back. I do feel strongly at least for my son that it is heat related, I am going to try the cold cloth on his neck as I walk him the next to see if I can shorten that time. I hope this helps and Good luck. Thank you all for posting. Mike
I finally found something that works! My ten year old son suddenly began experiencing night terrors last November. They began with very dramatic displays (screaming, running around the house, cowering, seeing things that weren't there). Sometimes he got up twice in one evening. These episodes continued every night for two months straight. The timing of his night terrors was predictable, and I was advised to try waking him up ten minutes before the usual time and try to disrupt the sleep cycle. Supposed to keep him awake for five minutes (very difficult) and then let him go back to sleep. The literature said if I did this for one week the night terrors would go away. This did not work...in fact most of the nights when I woke him up, he went right into the terror. What HAS worked is weekly neurofeedback sessions for the past three weeks. We are scheduled for 7 more but already the episodes have been reduced to one every 5 days and the severity has decreased tremendously (seems more like sleepwalking). You can find out more about neurofeedback accessing this very helpful website: www.eeginfo.com. My son suffers from anxiety and can be hyperactive and seems to be helped by neurofeedback in his waking hours as well. There are practitioners who do this here in the East Bay. There appears to be no negative side effects except the cost. Dori
About keeping feet uncovered (and the child warm) at night.
Halo Big Kids SleepSack (www.target.com/gp/detail.html/sr=1-6/qid=1173585495/ref=sr_1_6/601-7519272-2539364?ie=UTF8&asin=B000G0OKJ6) has openings for feet. It is made of microfleece(polyester) , but this sleeping bag can be easily copied using heavy cotton sweatshirt fleece, or some other natural material.
Thank you. Irene
Our son, who had his tonsils and adenoids removed a week ago has begun a
pattern (the last 4 nights) of waking with uncontrollable crying and irrational
behavior. He is 4 yrs and 7 months.....I wonder if anyone else has experienced
this behavoir after surgery. He has always been a sound sleeper, but I am
wondering if this is contributable to the trauma of the surgery, anesthetic, etc.
He will not take pain meds, and within an hour or so falls back to sleep. Jen
It's been a while since I visited this site. Our 8 yr old son has had NTs for the last 3 yrs and had one tonight. I realised that they are much less traumatic for us these days. Our son has had all the 'usual' symptoms: waking after one hr of sleep, screaming for Mommy, telling me he loves me with a terrified look on his face, muttering words but never finishing the sentence, unable to 'see' me, says things look small and far away, says his eyes feel funny, runs around the house, jumps on one spot with his hands by his sides, extremely agitated, very scared etc etc.
Over the years I've found that the first thing to do is take him to the toilet. He'll usually do a wee, sometimes a poo too. (He often has wind) I then take his hand firmly and say 'Come with me'. I take him downstairs and put a cartoon on the tv, (an old Mickey Mouse type). He calms down immediately. We sit for 5-10mins then I take hime back to bed. The whole thing is over and he fast asleep again within 20 mins.He rarely remembers anything in the morning.
I think my 3 year old daughter is having Night Terrors. She woke up tonight yelling out something in her dream. When I went in to console her she kept hitting me and thrashing around on her bed. I had to keep her from hitting her head on the wall next to her bed. I had no idea what was wrong- she indeed looked possessed or something. I started thinking maybe she has some anger issues or something because of our new baby in the family. Her eyes seemed to be like she was dreaming, they were darting around and she didn't seem to focus them. I asked her to look me in the eye but she wouldn't do it. She sleeps with her books and she started screaming about wanting me to read a book. She was very agitated and I asked her to calm down and I would read her a book. She just couldn't calm down. I tried to hold her but she just pulled away and was inconsolable. She calmed down for a second and I started reading her a book. She chose which one she wanted. She said, "No, not!
that one" when I chose one for her. I don't know if she was awake at this time or what. I asked her to point to certain pictures in her book and she could do it. When I stopped reading at one point, she looked like she was in a daze and not there. If she were awake she wouldn't have let me stop like that. She just looked like she was sleeping with her eyes open. She started rubbing her eyes saying they hurt and I asked her if I could get a washcloth and she said yes. I put a warm washcloth on her eyes and washed her face. I think she woke up at that point. She sat up in bed and looked normal. Then she laid back down. I asked her if mommy read her a book tonight and she said no, daddy did (he had read her one earlier before bedtime but mommy had not). If this was a true night terror, how did she see the book so clearly to point to the pictures?
She did not remember me reading a book to her which is very strange. There was another episode a couple of weeks ago where she did something similar and I read her a book in the middle of the night and she went right to sleep. It seems to happen when I don't get a chance to read her one before bedtime. I wish I knew what triggered them. She did miss her nap at daycare today. Maybe she was overtired. Brenda
My son is 4 yrs old and has been having night terrors for the last 6 months. he wakes after 1 - 1 and 1/2 hours. That appears to be the only set pattern other than intense fear, screaming "no" "go away". He fluctuates between seeming afraid of me then his father as if he is seeing someone other than us. sometimes he wakes slowly if we encourage him to go to the toilet, otherwise it takes at least 10 mins to wake him. He has no recollection of the episode only of a bad dream and sometimes "monsters", other times "bad man". we have not worked out a pattern otr trigger to the episodes. We have a light on in the hallway, he follows the same routine each night and has a calm down period before sleep. he goes to sleep calm and realxed with no problem. Joanne
My 2 yr old daughter had her first night terror,or what we believe was a night terror last night. She was running a very high fever and woke up at about 2 am screaming about bugs biting her eyes. She was clawing at her eyes and screaming. This lasted about 2-3 min and then she stopped and seemed wide awake for about a min or so ,then started doing the same screaming again. This went on for about 20 min and managed to calm her down enough to give her some medication to reduce her fever. About 30 min later she feel back asleep and woke about 10 min later doing the same thing. THis time it lasted about 30 minutes and seemed to be much worse. The whole time she seemed wide awake. Kathy
My daughter is 6 and has had night terrors on and off for the past 3 years. Fortunately, she is unaware, but it is still traumatic for us. It is very helpful to read about other experiences and I appreciate the comments and advice because I know only others going through NTs truly understand. I think that the best advice was to keep trying different things until we saw a change. As others have mentioned, keeping her from becoming over-heated helps and her episodes are shorter when we keep her in her own bed and comfort her. One thing that I have not read about is that she always passes a lot of gas during a NT. I'm wondering if this is common or how it is related. Diana
hi i believe my 3yo son and 5yo brother are having night terrors and my mum and i are worried cause they have all the symptons of night terrors but what worrys us is that they throw them selves around and roll around on the floor screaming and everything that we have looked at about night terrors has no mention of this happening. so is this part of having night terrors or is there somrthing else we need to be looking at cause this happens everytime. Also my son and brother do exactly the same thing when this happens is it inhertied. Simone
my name is Dritan, I live in Tirana, Albania.
My son, Enea, is 3 years old and for 10 days each night
he wakes up arownd 12 pm and start crying without any reason. His concentration his looking in one point and start crying very hard. Is impposible to stop him for arownd 30 min.Than he need to come in our bed or to sleep in his bed but need his mother's hand to hold.
Thank's in advance.
Today I took my son to his Pediatrician. At least 3 times this week he has woken up during the night hysterical, crying that his eyes hurt. At first I thought he was just having a nightmare.This happened a year ago also. We took him to have his eyes checked and he needed glasses, after a short time they were not necessary, so I was told.Now the episodes are starting again and I'm scared. He wakes up out of a sound sleep and hits the ground running and screaming out of a dead sleep. I chase him and hug him and talk to him but it is really scarey for both of us.He asks me to help him because his eyes hurt, so I get a wet cold cloth to put over his eyes but it just doesn't help.From what I've read so far, most people have experienced this at a young age, but my son's didn't start until he was 7.5 and then it lasted for a few months or so and then quit. Now they have started again. Please advise if you are experiencing this also. Thanks! Linda
This is all new to me. My granddaughter is six and she has had her first four NT in the three months. She has never had them before and the first time she had one when she spend the night over, scared me to death. I moved her over to lay down her four year old sister next to her, when all of a sudden she sat up and started yelling that she had to do something. She jumped off the bed and ran to the family room, yelling "I've got to do something...watch TV". I ran after her and asked her if she was alright. Her whole body was shaking so hard and her arms were waving up and down as she ran in place. She looked so scary. She yelled she had to go to the potty and ran to it and turned around and ran back yelling "I've got to do something". I started crying and tried to hold her but she pushed me away. I yelled at her grandfather to help me and he said give her some water. I asked her if she wanted water, she said, " yes, yes, I need water" as she rubbed her throat. As soon as she drank water, she placed her head on my should and fell asleep.
The second time it happened, I grabbed her and held her tight in my arms and rubbed her back, telling her that I was with her and everything thing was all right. She tighten up and said, Oh I'm sooo scared. I answered," it's okay, I'm right here with you, nothing is going to happen to you. She answered " okay, okay, okay" but with fear in her voice. I asked her if she wanted water and she took a snip. I held her hard againg and rocked her as I sang " Mary had a Little Lamb" into her ear and she went back to sleep.
I never realized so many people went through this with their children. My heart breaks to see the fear in my little girl's face when she is going through a NT. But I have learned that giving her water and repeating that I am right there with her and I hold her tight has helped. The second one only lasted about five minutes while the first one lasted about 30 mintues.
I noticed that she kicks the blankets off her legs and that water seems to help. I am going to try wetting her feet, and waking her up slowly as I reasure her she is not alone. I, also, noticed that it happens when she is exhusted after a long day, like many of the children I read about.
Thank you so much for all of your stories.This has helped me so much. Thanks to your stories, I know how to handle her when my girls come spend the night with us. Linda
My daughter has had night terrors since she was in kindergarten,(5), she is now almost in 3rd grade,(8).
She has them every night, I've read that at this age, only 1% of kid's do...is that true, I wonder? The wake up trick seemed to work when she was 5, but they came back a year later, to the month... I did the trick again and it worked again, with only the occasional wake up here and there. Now they've come back again, the "trick" has failed twice. She has them every night like clockwork. She gets plenty of sleep, though does seem more tired the next day when she's had an NT. I do not try to wake her up, only comfort her. She does kick a lot or run around, classic symptoms. I'm going to try to keep her feet from under the covers like I've read here. Also I'm going to try no more water at bedtime...I do wonder how many of the kids that suffer them tend to be sensitve children? Sensitive children are prone to be more anxious (even if they don't show it), because they care so much and are so observant to their surroundings. I've read that anxiety can be a factor with NT, but then why does the wake up trick work sometimes? I don't know what to think or do about it, sounds like we're all in the same boat. My daughter has a big sleepover birthday party planned, and she's afraid she'll have an NT...I guess I will try to wake her up before it and sneak her away for 5 minutes so she won't have one. The trick does work to eliminate the terror for that night if you time it right, trouble is, it's had to know exactly when they actually fall asleep! I hope I've given some info to help someone, thanks for the discussion forum!
Sept - Oct 2007
My seven year old daughter has been doing this yelling thing about an hour to an hour in a half after she go's to sleep. This has been going on for a bout two months or so. I went to the doctor and told her that my little girl is having bad nightmares. What should I do? My doctor told me to have her start thinking happy thoughts. Yea well, It did not work. Today I went to get my kids from school and a mom came up to me and said "Wow you look so sleepy" and I was. I told her what was going on. She aksed have i talked to my doctor I told her yes. And that is when I told her what the doctor said. Well, she told me about this thing called Night Terrors. And in reading bout it WOW That is my little girl. Now how do I help her to get a good nights rest? And as well as me. Please help. Diana
My 4-year-old daughter had an episode night before last. She woke up very frightened and talking about worms crawling everywhere. It was different than most of the NT that I've read about because she seemed coherent and wanted to show them to us. She kept saying things like "see the worms, see them Mommy, look" and "look, Nahan, they're everywhere." She would fall asleep for a few minutes, then awaken like this again. I had raised my voice, in a tiff with my boyfriend, Nathan, and (since we were out of town and in a hotel room) that was what woke her up. I was having extreme guilt issues about traumatizing her until I read your postings. She actually slept fine last night but this morning, on the way home in the car, she said,sleepily, "look Mommy, I'm turning into a puppy again," and she kept turning her hands over looking at them. I had to turn the dome light on so she could see her hands. It was very frightening. I can't even explain how much better I feel now. I wish that there were some way to make this the first website that pops up when someone searches "childhood halluciantions", etc.I spent hours looking for this kind of help. Thank you so much to everyone who put their stories here to help the rest of us.
Since my 22 month old son had his first (and hopefully last!) NT experience 2
nights ago, I've read every posting on this page. I'm so grateful for this
webpage and the real-life, practical suggestions from parents sharing their
ideas. Although I am a psychotherapist, I heard nothing about NTs in
graduate school, and the books and medical websites I've looked at seem
woefully dry and nearly irrelevant.
Anyway, I thought I'd throw in my 2 cents worth of thoughts on NTs. From my
training in Somatic Experiencing, it seems to me that NTs and vulnerability to
them involve disregulation in the autonomic nervous system. This is the part
of the brain that monitors and adjusts most bodily functions including heart
rate, perspiration, respiration, temperature and, I suspect, shifts from one
stage of sleep to another. A child, especially, may need to pee but not have
yet developed an effective means of awakening.
In addition to the fact that effective self-regulation develops over time,
stresses challenge this ability (such as being over-tired, off schedule, having
sleep apnea/asthma/illness/ teething pain/and fevers, not to mention the
possibly traumatic impact of surgery and anesthesia.)
This also explains why holding may exacerbate the child's distress through
interfering with the defensive and instinctual fight or flight response.
The perceptual distortions reported by many who have been able to
communicate during an NT or been able to remember and describe the
experiences remind me of fever-induced hallucinations I recall having at age
8 while awake. I recall feeling smothered by blankets which seemed to me to
be piled up to the ceiling, to have seen a pair of shoes rise and dance, and to
have seen the window and wall to be swaying and melting. The worst part of
the experience that I recall was an accompanying creepy sense of nausea and
surrealism. Had I been caught between sleep and waking, without the benefit
of understanding I was hallucinating from fever, the experience would have
been far more terrifying.
Given the inherent confusion and regulatory disruption from NTs, external
sources for regulation may thus be effective, ranging from decreasing
temperature, resetting sleep cycle through proactive awakening, and a variety
of resources that may decrease the impact of stress while increasing a sense
of soothing and safety. (I would add to the suggestions of cold water,
chamomile, music/TV, dream catchers and verbal reassurance the following:
therapeutic-grade essential oils (particularily the blends from Young Living
called Gentle Baby and Peace & Calming), the flower essence Rescue Remedy,
and energetically-charged elixers from Developmental Natural Resources
(particularily Ex-Stress and Total Balance). These could be used proactively
before sleep or applied during an NT episode. The oils could be diffused or
rubbed onto the child's feet or chest, while the others are available in a spray
form that could be misted onto the child's chest or head, if not in the child's
These are resources that have I have found to be helpful for my son for
soothing towards sleep and recovering from stressful incidents. They seemed
to help him come out the NT with grace and ease, even though he, like so
many other parents reported here, seemed to not recognize us while in the
throes of the NT, calling for "Mama, Mama" and had been resistent to
In general, for what it's worth toward identifying a profile for kids that have
NT, he's never yet slept through the whole night and even as a young baby
rarely slept more than 12 out of 24 hours. We jokingly say he's got "FMS
Syndrome": Fear of Missing Something. He's 1-3 months ahead on most
developmental milestones. He's securely bonded through attachment style
parenting and alternatingly displays both seperation anxiety and bold
I will go on thinking about this remarkable phenomenon of NTs that I've just
learned of and try to better understand what it is and how to deal with it. It's
possible that some of the therapies in my toolkit will prove useful. If so, I'm
happy to share them with other parents to support them in helping their
children. To that end, here's my email address as I welcome ideas and
inquiries from others.
Right on Brothers and Sisters! I over the last 2 nights with our 3 year old son have discovered the horrors of night terrors.
Have yet to try feet in cool water but that will be next defense.
Keep cool and stay calm for this too shall pass. God's Willing. Stay educated for it is the most important.
I wanted to update my post from December 2004 to anybody that might be interested. At that time my daughter was 2.5 yrs and frequently crying at night and could not be consoled. I never was sold on the idea that it was "clinical" night terrors, but her mom and i were certainly scared about her not being able to be comforted.
Of particular interest, and like some other people posting here have observed, she had a habit of extending her limbs during these episodes, and her hands she would snap back and forth at the wrists...very scary.
It turns out she was doing this, we believe, just because she was uncomfortable at the time. Sometimes it was a diaper change that helped, but what was more elusive we think are/were growing pains. As she got older, she began to explain (with a lot of coaxing) during the episodes that her legs were hurting... Now she is six, and she still complains about her legs hurting sometimes at night. The best "medicine" is children's tylenol. Also it helps just a little to rub her shins and calf muscle... Usually after a dose of tylenol, she was back to sleep. She did end up taking tylenol frequently.
She lost her infant milk allergy, but was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in march of 2006 at 4yrs old. i've naturally wondered if there was a relationship between her sleep "problem" and her diabetes, but can't connect them at all.
The pediatricians never found anything to cause her night episodes. I hate to sweep this experience under the "growing pains" rug, but that is the best i can do for now. She hasn't been growing much lately, and ... she doesn't complain so much about her legs huring at night. It certainly sounds like "growing pains."
So, my advice to anybody that has child that gets stiff as a board, stretches limbs, and hands, while crying...it may not be night terrors but just a reaction to discomfort. Try getting them to take some tylenol if there is no other obvious problem.
I am normally not this good with following up, but I remember how concerned I was over this. Hope this helps somebody. Good Luck to all who are working with this.
Our 6 year old son has had night terrors for several years, but usually only when he was over-tired and they were very limited both in duration and intensity. Approximately 3 months ago he suddenly started to have NT's every night and they were extremely intense and difficult to bring him out of. This ended up changing our entire lifestyle for the 6 weeks that this went on. We were all sleep deprived and his father and I dreaded bedtime. I have been a pediatric nurse for years, and was well-versed in NT's and the usual information parents are given. I tried everything that was out there, from trying to wake him up prior to the time he usually had him to limiting his video games and cartoons. We ended up making an appointment with a pediatric neurologist who specialized in sleep disorders, but were put on a waiting list. Right around the time all of this started, he had been complaining of leg pains during the day, but I really didnt think much of it. He tends to be a complainer anyway and I was more focused on his NT problem. One night, during a particularly bad terror, he kept saying "ow" and grabbing at his legs. I started to wonder if he was having growing pains, as I had also begun to notice he was outgrowing some clothes. The next night we gave him a long bath and some Motrin before bed. It has worked like a charm. He will still have the occasional NT, but usually it is due to being overly tired. I'm left to wonder if during his growth spurt, perhaps something going on metabolically in his body started to trigger the nightly terrors. And I'm sure the leg pain did not help. Of course, there's no way to prove it, and this may not be the case. But I know I would have tried ANYTHING--so I hope this helps someone else out there.
Our 9 year old son has been having NT's for approx. 6 mos. now. I have been reading everyone's posts trying to find what these children all have in common. Our son is extremely bright,excels academically and has a creative imagination. He seems deeply effected by world events such as the war, bad weather, crimes, etc. So we don't watch the news if he's in the room, and do not discuss things that may cause him to "worry". We have taken away all pokemon games and some of his video war games too, as during the NT's he acts as if he's fighting off one of the characters and something is attacking him. We also pay close attention to what he is eating - avoiding sugars, caffeine, etc. after dinner, close to bed time. It doesn't seem to matter what we do though, as he still has them. The one he had last night lasted longer than most of them and walking him into the bathroom, turning on the water in the sink, didn't bring him back into reality, as it has in the past. His loud screaming, "Oh my God!" and pointing, wanting to run, trembling, vomiting are what he does during his NT's. It's heart breaking. I try talking in a calming tone that I'm here with him and what he is seeing isn't real. In the past mentioning our dogs names and telling him they are with him, seemed to help a little. After the NT he is aggitated and irritable, so we tuck him back into bed, so he can go back to sleep. He has no memory of anything in the morning. He's very embarassed that he has them and we make sure his older sister realizes the importance not to make him feel bad about them. The thought of medication frightens us. I will try some of the calming oils & music that I read in a previous email in his room, to see if that helps. - Janet in Arizona
My son began having Night Terros at about 2 1/2 yrs of age.
At first, I had no idea what was happening to him. After about 2 or 3 months, infrequently having them, I learned they were NTs. I have spoken with my son's pediatrician and was told he would proably grow out of them by 12.
I've kept logs and videos for future references. Now my son is 5. He will be starting kindergarten in September.
I have learned over the past few years, that when he has a nap, usually he will NOT have a NT. But in June, his preschool had quit giving the 5 yr olds naps - and he will not get them in kindergarten either because they go from 8 AM till 3PM here. Ever since then, he has had a NT every NIGHT. Sometimes 5 or 6 times a night. He has even had them during naps and one tme he had fallen asleep in the car and had one while I was driving on the interstate.
I am now concerned that when he starts school, if they do not subside (4 weeks away), he will not do well in school and start becoming disruptive in school for he is so tired and sleep deprived he cannot pay attention which will, in turn, disrupt the entire class and hinder other students' learning.
We took him to have an EEG to rule out any seizure problems. EEG showed nothing. We have tried everything.
The only thing that makes them shorter are when the lights are on. Can anyone help with some more suggestions?
We normally keep our house at 70 degrees and he wears minimal clothing to bed. I am fearing I will have to resort to prescription medication - that is NOT what I want. God willing, maybe this will end soon :)
Jennifer in North Carolina
Thank you for so much info which I've found very helpful.
Personally, the only way to calm down my son of 14 month old is by playing his favourite show (baby einstein). on TV/Laptop.
He will just focus on the screen and stop the scary fighting/screaming straight away and just focus on the TV. Within 10 minutes he is back to himself like nothing has happened. Hope this will help you as much it did for us.
Feet in Cold water did the trick!!!! This is excellent advice...worked like magic after a terrifying 40 minute ordeal where I was actually freaking out myself at the noises my 18month old was making, whilst pulling my hair out and thrashing wildly!
Bel in Australia
I guess I really dont know where to turn anymore. I have a four year old little boy that has the worst night terrors that I have ever even heard of.
Lets start a bit from the beginning.. My son was born 8 weeks preemie, 98% healthy, aside from his liver (billiruben issues). He was a happy, big (5lbs 13oz; 19in) preemie baby. At around 6 weeks, we discovered that he had a milk/soy allergy, reflux, and asthma (everything tying in together, when one got bad, they ALL got bad.).
He has had nightmares since he was like 4 months old, and it wasnt anything alarming, the pediatrician said it was normal.
2 years later, we moved into this house in our area, very creepy house, had bad vibes. My husband and I both felt like we were "swimming in glue" living there. Being outside of this house for only 2 minutes would clear your head.
The bad night terrors started here. He would "wake up" at about 10 or 11 at night, screaming, like something was killing him. We would give him anything he wanted during these episodes... His body was completley awake, but I guess the night terror was playing out like a movie infront of his eyes. If we tried to physically comfort him, he would become extraordinarily violent. (He is NOT exposed to violence). He is only allowed to watch Noggin and PBS Kids. With the occasional Cars, Finding Nemo or Monsters Inc thrown in. Anyways - when these were going on, they were lasting HOURS... NOT Minutes, like all the websites say (the worst one was 5 hours and 39 minutes). I mean - call the pediatrician at 1am crying because I cant protect my child from the demons in his own head. She spent 3 1/2 hours on the phone with me, had an appointment the next day, and that night we were at one of the nations best sleep centers (Yale) to rule out a seziure disorder (thank God there was!
Then we moved.
And they stopped.
They came at very infrequent intervals after we moved (1-2 every 6 months or so), so we just figured that maybe it was the house, perhaps he was "sensitive" to something in the house... Obviously there was something wrong with it - my husband and I both felt it, as did our pets (very skittish there, when they never were before).
Now they are starting again.. last night he had one so bad he woke up at 2 am and didnt go back to bed. Tonight he woke up and screamed "mommy mommy help me please mommy help me its going to get me heeeeeeeeeeelp me moooooooomiiiiieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee please" screaming... I was able to bring him out of it, comfort him, and lay down with him, and he went back to sleep.. Now he is wimpering and crying every 10 minutes or so, I guess trying to get away from whatever is haunting him.
I am going to call his doctor in the morning, get (another) appointment with a sleep center to rule out apnea. I have done hours of research online on this.. I have tried waking him, but that doesnt seem to help, because he is having more than 30-90 mins after bed. No caffiene, no sugar, not even anything to drink 45 minutes before bed. He has a stringent bedtime routine, including reading, a shower, and tuck in & lay down time with mommy. I dont want my child to suffer anymore, and dont know where else to turn... Someone please, any advice, or did anyone have kids with night terrors this bad? Please!
Thank you so much!
Cheryl from Connecticut
My son who is three years old only stared having these night terrors after tonsillectomy surgery, and if i must be i honest i think i would rather have the tonsil problems to deal with rather than this, i am convinced that this has something to do with the surgery because he ONLY started having these night terrors after the surgery, he was give tylenol with codein for post surgical pain management. I am tempted to believe that the anesthesia or the codeine may have caused this problem, but i must tell you it is bizarre to say the least. Richard
I had twin girls in 2001 . Into the 2nd year one of them started
experiencing night terrors.Everynight for a couple of weeks, between
10pm and 1am.the episodes lasted from 20 min. to 45 min. I would
cry, feeling helpless.I took her to Dr., before I finished tellng
her what was going on she told me they were night terrors. There was
nothing I could do about them and that she would grow out of
them. Well I wasn't going to watch her go through hell every
night. So I went home got on-line and did my own research. I cannot
remember the website but I do remember exaclly what they told me to
do. Every night for 7 consecutive nights , after she fell asleep I
would wait for about 30 -40 min. it was always before the first hour
of sleep was over, I would go into their room and bring her out to
the kitchen , wake her up completely, by playing or getting a snack
or washing her hands anything to get her awake . We stayed awake for
about 20 min. or so and I put her back to bed, she always fell
back to sleep without a problem. What this did for her was it
disrupted her sleep pattern enough that she went back to sleep
without going through series that she was accustumed to. Yes, it
worked and she is seven years old now and has never had another
night terror since I did this . But I know what to do if she ever
does. Please don't wait for them to grow out of this. I didn't take
this for an answer I hope you don't either, because I 've seen what
your baby is going through and even though they won't remember it, I
January - February 2009
My daughter is 6 years old and she started having NT at the age of 2. She is very imaginitive and is highly excelled in her thought processes. She has always been a very sensitive child. Up to about a year ago she couldn't even hear dramatic music on TV because it was sure to cause a NT. About an hour after she went to sleep, we'ld be just into a nice restful sleep when she'ld cry out from her bedroom. I'ld usually have to jump up, half asleep, and quickly get her into the restroom to throw up. We cleaned up so many messes from her not wanting to put her head down to vomit in the toilet. God really grew our patience during this time. Beleive me, it was pretty frustrating when all our efforts to comfort her were deflected with her continued screaming and crying and at times kicking. Well, her NTs have slowed way down. We make sure she gets plenty of rest and filter what she watches on tv. I don't understand why throwing up is apart of her NTs. I don't think it's a common sympton. I had NTs as a child, but I didn't throw up. I wonder if it is just a combination of NT with anxiety. She worries herself sick at times, so much so, that she makes herself throw up. I'ld love to hear from anyone who may have similar issues with their children. p.s. I also have a 4 yr old son, and he has not shown any signs of having NT, thusfar.
Cara in Corpus Christi, TX
I have a 19 month old little boy. We experienced what I think was our first night terror last night. He woke up screaming about an hour after he went to bed. We picked him up and brought him into our room. We couldn't do anything to comfort him. He just kept crying and seemed short of breath. His heart was racing and he didn't seem to know what was going on. He even looked at us like we were strangers. Scared me half to death!! This went on for about 20 minutes. Finally my husband walked outside with him in the 20 degree weather and he calmed down. Just funny to see the feet in cold water, no sock, cold rags...and the cold is what seemed to calm him down. Hopefully we won't see anymore nights like that...but I doubt it considering I sleepwalked throughout my childhood, but at least I have some tricks up my sleeve for next time. Thanks!!
Oh my God! I can just cry. I've been dealing with the NT of my 8 year old kid since he was 2. I've just found this website with all this great information and support. I used to have NT when I was a child, until I was like 9 years. I can relate with the "spider dreams" and the button that puts everything far awar or on fast-forward. I also had the sensation of having very big fingers and trying to grab something tiny. My son has this exact same images on his NTs. I don't know who told me, or IF someone ever told me about keeping my feet uncovered, but that's how I sleep. My son does too, and when he does, he sleeps just right. He doesn't know what causes his NTs, but he sure thinks that his body temperature has to do with it. If he is too anxious before he goes to bed, he grabs an ice-pack and puts it over his head. He always has a bottle of water beside the bed, and he is a shirt-less sleeper. If any of this rituals change, it's a sure NT.
So today, it did. We came back from the doctor (throat infection) and I told him to take a nap (so now he is angry), he kept his shirt and went to bed. Sure enough, 50 minutes after falling asleep, the terror began. He woke his brother screaming for him to fetch mom. I went to his side and he said "everything is fast" and began to cry and to tell me "I'm scared. I love you very much". He finally lie down on the floor, and there he fell asleep (Yep, beats me too).
My son who is 7 has been having these "episodes" since 2004(5 years now)and we have no idea what they are. He has a long history of developmental problems and has had surgery for silent reflux at 3 months old. He is severely delayed in all areas. He sleeps 12 hours a night and has no problem falling asleep. At no specific time, most nights, once a night, he will wake up, his oxygen sounds like it is being cut off, he throws his head back, he pulls himself up to his bed railing and holds on to the side of it, body stiff, arms straight and stiff, eyes open and dialated, and he struggles to get air for about 5 minutes. That is about how long they all last. After he gets his breath he will sit back down and pull in slow deep breaths while still holding his head back. Once he can lower his head without having to struggle for air he lays down and is right back asleep. He only has one a night usually. Could this be NT along with sleep apnea caused by obstruction to his airway? He has his tonsils and adnoids. Has anyone seen these symptoms?
My daughter began having night terrors around the age of 2 she is now 11 almost 12 we still have the same issue. I had sleep tests done nothing was found, her Dr put her on clonzapam and has worked wonders. She would wake anywhere from 1 to 3 times a night. It has become just a part of our lives and I now listen for her in my sleep. She does have break through terrors even on her medicine from time to time but when she is sleep walking and talking to me I kind of go along with it, she sometimes is shopping or going out to play in her dreams. When she can remember the dreams they usually always seem to stem around ME...usually someone hurting me and her protecting me...not sure why as she nor I have ever had any kind of trama such as being hurt. Everyone's situation is different and I wish all...hope and peace with their journey of night terrors. God Speed to all!
I have an 8 year old son who just began to experience NTs in the last month. He has always slept perfectly well until about a month ago after having been sick with a combination of flu like symptoms, strep throat and eventually an asthma response to his strep and congestion. (his asthma is only triggered by irritation due to other illness- he is not a classic acute asthmatic and has no allergies) After 2 weeks of intestinal distress followed by strep, congestion, ear ache and eventually asthma he suddenly began experiencing NTs- he was largely well at that point (normal digestion and a full course of antibiotics for the strep) and was finishing up with Albuteral taken through a nebeulizer for the asthma, but one night he woke up screaming in seemingly agonizing pain, ran into the bathroom in hysteria and went between sitting on the toilet saying he "couldn't take it any more" (which was what he had said when awake and experiencing intestinal cramping due to illness). This has become a pattern now- kicking off the covers, often running into the bathroom, tearing at his hair, looking at himself in the mirror at his mouth, babbling things like "I can't believe it" or "I just need to depend on someone" or "thankyou Mommy, thankyou" and kissing my cheek; sometimes it has been sobbing and shaking in great terror in bed. I try to reassure him and make him feel safe and he usually will go back to full sleep in a few minutes after going back to bed. I tried interrupting his sleep to no avail. I have read some of the other suggestions and will try some of them- cold water might help since he does tend to sleep "hot". I am going to consult with his pediatrician, but I know that this is something that he likely must grow out of. I am confused why he would not have this condition until the age of 8- it seems odd since most older kids with NTs have had it since they were much younger. Looking for insight and suggestions- thanks!
Wow, this is a wealth of information. my 9 year old is having some night terrors it seems. Although he sometimes seems to know either myself or my husband are there, he is inconsolable, speaks in fragments about things coming to get him and is generally panicked. He is also a big worrier... and I've been wondering if there is a connection. He's maybe had two others in his whole life, but he's had one each night the past two nights, although last night's was much shorter than the initial one. Another interesting connection possibly is that he has had a difficult time in not wetting the bed. It's really just been the past few months that he has not had any accidents. I am wondering if there is a connection with him finally waking up to go to the bathroom and having these NT's. Trade one for the other???? I try to do what everyone is saying, console him, calm him, etc... But I have not tried to wake him as initially I heard that this wasn't advisable. I found out from my grandmother that my father had them when he was a child and they would use smelling salts to wake him. I am comforted to read others experiences, and to know that this isn't a harmful situation for my son, but I am still dreading bedtime tonight for sure...
I am about to describe the experience we had with our
daughterâ€™s night terror and how it finally resolved. She was
about 3 y/o that it first happened and it was so frightening
that we immediately took her to the hospital. They reassured
us that this is a benign disease and she will grow out of it
but since they didnâ€™t do any tests I wasnâ€™t convinced that
this is nothing. So I took her to a sleep center and met a
neurologist who basically said the same thing.
In the mean
while we were going through the worst experience we had
since she born. She would wake up about 1 hour after
sleeping and crying as if she is being threatened by
something in her dreams. She seemed awake and drowsy but she
was not responding to us calling her and trying to calm her
down. It was usually going for 15-20 minutes and we had to
wrap our hand around her to protect her from falling down
I understand frustration of parents who are going
through similar episodes of night terror with their children
and I want to share with you things that we did and helped
to resolve this. First of all I asked my parents and found
out that I had similar episodes when I was a kid but they
were not remembering the details. I started reading websites
and articles in Pubmed to find out what we can do. We closed
all the closet doors in the room, reduced the amount of
light and tried to take her to bed at the same time every
night. But, one thing which helped us a lot was making sure
she goes to bathroom and empties her bladder right before
going to bed. Her night terrors were going for about 4-5
months every other month but then it started getting less
frequent. She is 4 y/o and they happen about once a month
and even when they are about to happen and I take her to
bathroom, it prevents it from happening. It is possible that
these night terrors have different triggers in each child
but I think one that was not obvious for us was that she had
to go to the bathroom.
So, this is a harmless thing and if
you are dealing with children that are having night terror,
give it a try and take them to the bathroom while they are
crying. As you may know the theory is that they are locked
between sleep and awakening and I guess taking my daughter
to bathroom and ask her to pee was helping her to come out
of sleep because afterward she would go to bed and sleep
peacefully. I hope this is helpful. Although this is a
benign disease which has no consequences for them but maybe
knowing some tricks to comfort them will help them to come
out of this faster. Good luck
V in Boston
I just found your website and I am so thankful for all of the posts. My 12-month old just woke up with what I think is her second night terror. She is the HAPPIEST baby normally and sleeps peacefully through the night most of the time. However, tonight (and one other time) she woke up screaming. When I went to her she was crying with her eyes closed. I tried to soothe her, however she did even react. I went to get her a drink and when I came back she was sitting up, staring at the wall. I held her and her eyes were crazy, like she was looking right through me. She was also shaking a little (not like a seizure, just kind of trembling). I am an Adult Ortho/Neuro RN, so of course I am freaking out that she is having some kind of neuro issue. After seeing the other parent posts, I am pretty sure it is a NT. Thank you!
My son is 6 and has had night terrors for about 3 years. He also is still wetting the bed, I wonder if this might be some sort of sleep apnea, he suffers from sinus allergies too. I read somewhere that night terrors are inherited, my husband and I have not had sleep disorders, but one of his brothers was a sleepwalker. My youngest son who is 4 has had 3 episodes of sleepwalking in the past two years.I can relate to all the parents posting on this site! My ? is how do parents of older children handle sleepovers with friends? My son is begging to do this over the summer. Also I read that having the tonsils removed seemed to cure them, has anyone had any success with that?
My three year old daughter has had night terrors since infancy. I didn't know that's what it was then, but now through my readings and further education on this subject I am positive she experienced NT as early as three weeks old.
She would be in her bassinet, scream bloodcurdling screams; I would race to the bassinet, and she'd be fast asleep. Needless to say sleeping never was easy in our house. Since infancy she's been a horrible sleeper. A bedtime routine never worked, no matter how hard we tried, and what theory we used. She didn't like being rocked to sleep, she didn't like laying down on her own, crying it out didn't work, co-sleeping didn't work. It was pretty much up into the middle of the night until she crashed!
We have a 10 month old girl now, and I have realized since she was born that I wasn't as bad as a mother as I previously thought I was. I was concerned that I just was doing every thing wrong, and it was my fault that her "sleeping issues" were so bad. Our 10 month old sleeps 12 hours a night, no interruptions, and takes 2 - 2-3 hour naps during the day. There haven't been any screams from her during the night yet. (Knock on wood)
Now that I am more educated about NT, I feel that our 3 year old doesn't like to sleep bc she's subconciously aware of the stress and terrors that could happen during the night. She used to watch Disney movies and fall asleep to them. I stopped that because I thought maybe the "Wicked Step Mother" or "Fire Breathing Dragon" was scaring her and causing just nightmares. Nothing changed. We are still dealing with waking up in the middle of the night to her screaming (makes your toes curl and your heart stop), making her way to our room screaming, 2 second outbursts (10-15 times) in the middle of the night that make us (Mom and Dad) shoot straight up in bed, usually right after we got back to sleep from a previous outburst. She has even experienced NT during naps.
As she is getting older the NT are becoming worse and sleep walking has become an additional night time symptom and so has vomiting. She screams so loud and long that she starts coughing and has vomited several times. It only took once after being covered with it as I was consoling her, to remember to grab the bucket as soon as we hear her screams.
Sleepwalking: She's made her way to the kitchen and ate cupcakes in the middle of the night, we found her in the corner of her room crying that she spilled something, and I even think some of the nights she's made it to our room crying, she could have been sleep walking too. We are going to put an alarm on her room door so if she does leave her room we wake up and are aware to make sure there's no harm going on to herself, or anyone else in the house.
I've read A LOT on the internet about NT and have spoken to our ped. about them. Our Dr. claims there could be a relation with Sleep Apnea. Our daughter does snore very loudly when she is sleeping so maybe this is a possiblity. We will have testing done in a few weeks to see if she does have Sleep Apnea. Then if this is the case we will look into surgery in removing the tonsils and adnoids. Just scares me to have surgery done on such a young child. We could only wish she wouldn't remember the surgery like she doesn't remember the NT.
Until then I will be trying the wives' tails about feet uncovered, and cool water. It's worth a try at this point!
Thanks for listening,
My oldest son, who is now 10 years old, has had night terrors since he was 2 years old. They have started subsiding, maybe 4-5 a month, but have been a non stop horrific experience for my husband and myself. We have tried the night routine, the breathing rituals before laying down to sleep, and many other suggestions. He has had his adnoids and tonsils out since he was 3 yrs old. Any suggestions to truly end these episodes? He does get violent and destructive during some of these. Help!
My baby is about 17 mon now. He recently started that non-
stopping, colic like crying or screaming, mostly in the middle of
the sleep or nap time. He cried and cried until he lost his voice.
and Nothing seems to comfort him. He's been teething for a couple
months and was doing fine. and I checked his temperature. It
doesn't look like an ear infection.
What could be the cause. I'm so tired and frustrated about not
being able to do anything to stop him.
Does anyone have any sugestion?
It sounds to me like your baby may be experiencing night terrors.
Does it usually happen within one or two hours of when he went
to sleep? Does it seem to you that he is not really awake when
he starts the screaming?
You can look up night terrors in the internet for more info.
What I've gathered is that they happen because the baby gets
stuck in the transition between light and heavy sleep. It
specially happens when the baby is overtired when he goes to sleep.
The usual recommendations is to have a bedtime ritual and make
sure he gets plenty of sleep.
When he's experiencing the night terror you basically have two
choices, either to wake him up (but you risk this hapenning
again) or to help him transition into deep sleep. I can usually
get my baby to do this by giving her a bottle, having her lie in
my arms or on my chest and singing to her. If that doesn't work,
I usually just wake her up by taking her to an area with more
light and talking to her while holding her. Then I put her back
In extreme cases (like when were taking an overnight flight and
she kept waking up screaming every 5 minutes or so), some baby
cold medicine may help.
No real diagnosis, just one quick note: A child doesn't have to have a
fever to have an ear infection. My son's had them several times with a
normal temperature. If you haven't, get your child's ears checked
(especially if he's prone to ear infections).
If these screaming episodes occur during sleep, it is
probably night terrors, a severe form of nightmares. The
child cannot be woken during a night terror--they just
scream and cry until they finally fall back asleep. These are
scary for the parents to hear and witness, but appear to do
no damage to the child, who doesn't remember anything
after they wake up. Call your baby's doctor, and go on-line
to learn more about these possible night terrors.
I would definitely bring your child to the doctor for a thorough
check up. Since 17 month olds don't get colic it sounds like your
child is in pain. Sometimes we never know the why of these things
but he seems a little young for nightmares - but perhaps it is
possible. If the doctor assures you nothing is physically wrong
(and don't hesitate to go a couple of times til you feel
completely sure) then I would consult with Meg Zweiback. She
probably gets mentioned a lot here...she does short consults on
kid issues and she is very good; helpful, nonjudgemental,
practical and full of good ideas. You usually do one session
without your child and one session with then do follow-up phone
calls or sessions as needed. It is short term consulting, not
therapy. Her number is (510) 836-1450 and she is located in
Oakland off Lakeshore. I wouldn't ignore it, you are right to be
concerned. However it is probably something easily handled. Good
A Sympathetic Mom
There is no such thing as ''late colic.'' If I were you, I would
get the baby in for a full physical. My son started screaming
uncontrollably when he was 4 mos old. He was sleeping through
the night and taking 3 naps a day pior to this, and it all
changed. My pediatrician diagnosed my son with late colic, but
I thought that was ridiculous, and continued to call and bring
him in. He was finally diagnosed with a serious neurological
disorder that needed treatment right away. You know your son
better than anyone, and you know there is something wrong. It
may be just an ear infection, especially if he is screaming when
he is laying down (not all kids develop fevers). Keep going
until you get your answer, and your son some relief.
I recently read that children of your baby's age can begin to have
nightmares, so perhaps that is what is happening. If he seems inconsolable
though you should probably check with your doctor just to be safe.
Our 31 month old son is beginning to experience night terrors. He screams
for 45 minutes to an hour and nothing we do can console him. I've read a lot
about this but I am hoping some of you might have some practical hints. We
cannot leave him in his bed because he shares the bedroom with his brother.
When we hold him he thrashes around wildly and usually manages to sock one
of us. The same thing happens if we try to bring him to bed with us. I am
afraid this is just one of those things we have to ride out but if any of
you have had any experience in either avoiding or lessening the severity of
these attacks, I would love to hear about it. Thanks. Janis
Janis - our son, who is now 8, starting having night terrors at about the
age of two, and was still having them occasionally last year. I have also
read everything under the sun and talked to our pediatrician, and the best
advice of all was to turn on the light. This decreases the terror for the
parents and makes it easier to sit with the child. I would suggest taking
the other child out of the bedroom into your bed until the terror is over,
and leaving your son in his bed. As you know, you can't talk to the child
or wake them from the terror - and they don't remember anything in the
morning. All you can do is sit with them and say calming things (not that
they can hear you, but at least you feel like you are doing something), and
make sure they don't hurt themselves. That's why leaving them in their own
beds is easiest. Good luck - I find these terrors to be absolutely
terrifying myself, and often can't get back to sleep after the child has
calmed. We never figured out any relationship between events of the day and
the terrors, there was no rhyme or reason, didn't matter if he was well
rested or over-excited - although they do seem to occur when he has a fever.
Our kids have all suffered from night terrors.
They were usually brought on by:
a. Change of schedule or routine.
b. being overtired.
Leave the lights off - the kid needs to get back to sleep as soon as
Don't try to wake them.
Talk to them in a soothing reassuring tone. Tell them that you're there.
Tell them that everything will be alright. If you ever sing them to sleep,
sing those songs.
A soothing touch may help, but if the kid is wrestling with
monsters in a dream, he may wrestle with you.
Both my children went through night terrors when they were about 2 years
old (they are now 11 and 7). I'm afraid I don't have any suggestions on
how to prevent it, but do have an observation that I'm sure someone who
knows about sleep patterns would find interesting. If they went to sleep
quickly and easily, that is without getting up several times or calling
out to us, they were much more likely to have night terrors, than if they
had a hard time falling asleep. I also found, if you could touch them,
that a cool washcloth on the face helped sometimes.
You're not alone out there - I found night terrors so frightening -
having your child cower in a corner screaming at you like you are some
kind of monster - not to mention the lack of sleep. Luckily, my
daughter, who is older, slept through my son's screaming.
Our daughter, 3 years old, has been experiencing night terrors for a
while (I was glad to find that this is not uncommon). I was discussing
this group with a friend who, it turns out, experienced these terrors as a
todler. She told me her mother merely picked her up, took her to the
bathroom, and placed her feet in cold water. This "cured" the problem for
this friend. Sooooo....one fateful night I attempted the "cure" when
Natalie was having one of the terrors.
Thus far, we have had no more night terrors in our home!
I did a net search on night terrors, and found the following, which seems
pretty accurate and informative:
Things That Go Bump in the Night
Coping with Night Terrors
It's 10 p.m. You're dozing on the couch and decide it's time to go to
bed. Just about the time your head hits the pillow, a bloodcurdling
scream from your toddler's bedroom propels you like a shot down the
hallway. You find her sitting up in bed, wide-eyed. She's screaming
and flailing her arms. It's one of the scariest things you've ever
seen. As you rush to her, you see she doesn't appear hurt or sick. It
must be a nightmare, you think. "I'm here," you say as you put your
arms around her. But she pushes you away. The more you try to calm
her, the more upset she gets.
What's going on?
Most likely, your child is having a night terror - a relatively rare
sleep disorder that appears mostly in young children. Two or three
percent of all children will experience episodes of night terrors. Yet
by the time they reach school age, most children will have outgrown
these generally harmless events.
It's a normal phenomenon of childhood," says Harry Abram, M.D., a
neurologist with The Nemours Children's Clinic. "As the brain matures
and a child's sleep pattern matures, the terrors go away. This usually
happens by age six."
Night Terror or Nightmare?
A night terror is not the same thing as a nightmare. Nightmares occur
during the dream phase of sleep known as REM sleep. The circumstances
of the nightmare will frighten the child, who usually will wake up
with a vivid memory of a long movie-like dream. Night terrors, on the
other hand, occur during a phase of deep non-REM sleep - usually an
hour or two after the child goes to bed. During a night terror, which
may last anywhere from a few minutes to an hour, the child is still
asleep. Her eyes may be open, but she is not awake. When she does wake
up, she'll have no recollection of the episode other than a sense of
Can I Help My Child During a Night Terror?
It's helpful to know that although these events may be disturbing for
you, night terrors themselves are not harmful to your child. But
because a child may get out of bed and run around the room, doctors do
advise parents to gently restrain a child experiencing night
terrors. Otherwise, let the episode run its course. Shouting and
shaking your child awake will just agitate him more.
Can Night Terrors Be Prevented?
It's likely that if you or your spouse had night terrors, your child
will too. Fatigue and psychological stress may also play a role in
their occurrence. Make sure your child is getting plenty of rest. Be
aware of things that may be upsetting to your child, and to the extent
you are able, try to minimize the distress.
Children usually have night terrors at the same time each night,
generally sometime in the first few hours after falling asleep.
Doctors suggest you wake your child up about 30 minutes before
the night terror usually happens. Get your child out of bed, have her
talk to you. Keep her awake for five minutes, and then let her go back
Night terrors are a normal, if frightening, phenomenon of
childhood. If they occur frequently or over a long period of time,
however, discuss this with your child's physician.
Fast Facts Night Terrors...
Are not dangerous.
Are most common between the ages of three-five.
Run in families.
Occur in the first third of the sleep cycle.
Night terrors are a normal, if frightening, phenomenon of
childhood. If they occur frequently or over a long period of time,
however, discuss this with your child's physician.
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Hi, I have a 3.5 yr old who has occasional night terrors. What works for
us is to have her sleep w/ us. That way when she has a bad dream she just
touches me or my husband and then goes back to sleep. I also got her a
little book light (a flashlight would work) which she can use. Good luck!
Website for Stanford University Sleep Center
I want to direct parents to the web site of stanford sleep centers because this is where I believe that I got my information originally. Our child started suffering from night terrors at 18 months and they went on for a couple of years. There is now a believed link between childhood sleep apnea and night terrors. This would make sense from all of the previous comments and remedies currently posted on the parents network under this title.
Night terrors frequently happen when children do not get enough rest (and can't get proper rest due to obstructive sleep apnea--usually tonsils closing off the windpipe when in a prone position as you are when you are sleeping (hence parents sitting children up in the bed or children doing it themselves to get enough air) The reports on the web list parents using benedryl successfully (again, allowing for the enlarged/congested/ allergy affected areas to be less inflamed and a child to breath better. Dozens of parents have noticed the
link between being overheated--it's also harder to breath when it's hot, and other parents noting the diagnoisi of ADHD in their children (According to Dr. Wesman at Oakland Children's Hospital, children with sleep apnea are by far more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD-(can concentrate if you are not well rested, can't rest if you can't breathe properly)
Children with night terrors are also likely to have the parallel problem of bed wetting later on as well. Our son had terrible night terrors which stopped for awhile with an old wives trick (putting his feet into cool (not cold) water during an episode. They did not stop completely and neither did bedwetting until we had his tonsils and adenoids removed. It was only after some sleuthing on the Stanford Sleep Centers site and various others (our pediatricians had no recommendations about what to do) that we brought our child to Dr. Wesman for a consultation. I would not have made the connection on my own. The results of this small surgery have been phenomenal and I think it is worth it for other parents to start looking up sleep parasomnias and the connection to lack of adequate air intake at night to try and resolve the problem. Thankfully, our son does not suffer from night terrors or bedwetting any longer now that his tonsils and adenoids are gone (they resolved immediately). Please look into these connections if you are one of those parents whose child suffers from night terrors.
this page was last updated: Jul 20, 2014
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