Does your child wake in the middle of the night screaming, kicking or walking around babbling? These incidences are called Night Terrors, when this happens for the first time it can be a terrifiying experience for the parent, and the child will be oblivious to the interruption caused the night before, so what can you do to remedy this problem?
To begin with it is important to know that if your child wakes one night and begins acting like a wild caged animal, or walking about the house babbling, while still asleep, your child is ok, and you are not alone this is called a night terror and is fairly common. Most children will sometimes experience arousal while in a deep sleep, where they will look about the room and be quite confused, as if they are not comprehending what it is they are seeing. The child will usually go right back to sleep after this, and that will be it.
Although there are about 5% of children who suffer from this at an extreme level this is called a Night Terrror, it is important to remember as a parent, that the child is not awake, and is still sleeping, so he/she has no comprehension of what is taking place, this can be very frightening for parents and in extreme cases can happen on a regular basis like nightly, usually at around about the same time every night, there are some simple steps that can be taken to lessen the severity of these attacks, but night terrors are incurable with medication, instead they must be 'grown out of' by the child.
What happens is the child's brain gets 'stuck' between light and heavy levels of sleep, there are ways to cope with this when it happens, such as avoiding things that may trigger an attack, some things that may be triggers are,
- Over tiredness, make sure that your child goes to bed at a regular time, and doesn't stay up overly late especially after a big day that has been full of excitement.
- Radical changes in routine, although a radical change in routine cannot always be avoided it is important to warn your child of any major changes before they happen, the more you tell the child the less of an unconscious shock this will be to them.
- Fevers can cause night terrors, so if your child does have a fever make sure that the fever is reduced before the child goes to sleep.
- Stress is not good for the health of a child in any circumstance, if your child is feeling stressed you should do your best to help resolve the situation that is causing the stress.
- Beware of medications such as Antihistamines as they are known triggers for Night Terrors.
If your child has Night Terrors at a certain time every night, you can avoid an attack by simply waking the child quarter of an hour before an attack time this will stop the brain 'sticking' and stop the night terror from occurring.
Remember that your child is still asleep, it is important to keep calm during a night terror as your child will sense it if you are afraid or panicking and this will make the situation worse, be as soothing and calming as you can. Don't wake your child up during a night terror, this will just confuse and frighten the child. Keep your child safe by making sure there is nothing that can be fallen over or cause harm in the room, during a Night Terror.
The only thing that can remedy a Night Terror is patience on the parents behalf and time for the child to grow out of their Night Terrors, Soon night terrors will be a thing of the past, so remember that you are not alone, there are many parents in the same situation as you.