Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Night Terrors Are Killing Me

Someone said, "You sound tired." I replied, "The blond twin kept waking up last night." She wasn't sympathetic because she thought this meant the blond twin woke up and went right back to sleep. I wish that was how it happened.

The blond twin has night terrors. Anything can trigger them. I dread days when she watches a movie. Pick a movie, any movie. There is always a character that frightens her. The first fifteen or twenty times she watched The Little Mermaid, she woke up because Ursula frightened her. The new Barbie movie has a scary man named Wenlock. We've read the book a gazillion times, but the movie kept her up all night.  When she's watching a movie, you don't think she's afraid. It's not until she goes to sleep that the night terrors start.

She doesn't just wake up. She wakes up screaming at the top of her lungs. Sometimes she's also sitting up in bed. The hard part is she's not really awake.

We spend a lot of time trying to get her to calm down and go back to sleep. Once we do get her to sleep, we need to unwind and go to sleep. Let me just tell you it's really hard to go to sleep when you know your child is going to wake up screaming again any minute.

Since I know she's going to wake up screaming, I drift in and out of sleep waiting for the next event. It's a terrible way to spend a night.

If it gets really bad, I just crawl into bed with her. There is something about being really close to me (or Daddy or Sissy) that comforts her. She sleeps as close as possible to me. The important part is she does calm down and sleep.

Me? Not so much. It's hard to sleep with a six-year-old plastered against you.

In the morning, she doesn't remember any of it. I'm exhausted, of course, but happy that we made it through the night.

The big problem is we don't know what will trigger it. Sometimes it's a movie; other times it is because she is tired. And, we don't know how long it will last. Sometimes she wakes up a few times, but falls into a deep sleep before midnight. Other times it is an all night event.

The doctor says she'll outgrow it. I thought she said the blond twin would outgrow it by the time she was six. Given recent events, we need to go in and have that conversation again.


Missy said...

Usually going in a waking the child up before the night terror works to keep them at bay.

You might try going in and waking her slightly after she has been asleep for a few hours and see if that helps.

Rachel said...


My DD has had them, it would scare the crap out of me to hear her screaming in the middle of the night. Thankfully this last year they have seemed to diminished. Hopefully they will for her too.

Nicki said...

Night terrors definitely suck! My younger brother had them until he was about 8 or 9... he'd run around his room screaming that his head had been cut off. I had them as a teenager. I think they suck way more for parents than for kids, because the kids don't remember them... but sometimes you actually wake yourself up screaming, and then you are freaked out because you don't remember what you were so afraid of.
Have you tried putting a CD of relaxing music on at night, on repeat... or even leaving the TV on in their room, on a safe channel like the COoking channel or something? Sometimes the constant background noise can keep you subconsciously aware of your surroundings, even when you're asleep, so that you don't have as many nightmares or night terrors.

Lauren said...

I can relate! My 4 year old has them. They are always the worst when she is overtired. And I know what you mean about not knowing how bad they will be. She sometimes settles down after a few minutes, other times after an hour. Her screams are so loud she wakes up the whole house. One thing we have found that snaps her out of it is taking her into another room and/or having her use the bathroom. Seems to work!! Have you tried this?

dcr said...

gotta ditto everybody that says night terrors suck, because that's SO the case! my younger daughter had them for a couple of years. we had to WAKE her COMPLETELY up or she would do as you describe, scream, sleep some, scream more, sleep some.

we finally took to waking her entirely, like making her use the bathroom, drink water, answer questions (how much is 2+2? what is your favorite food? what do you want for breakfast? what's the cat's name? etc) she'd eventually get really mad and then we'd put her back to bed. once, we splashed a LOT of water on her face to wake her...sounds mean but whatever. she should grow out of it. we never did figure out what triggered them.

best of luck!

Dawn said...

My son had them starting at about 3yo, but by 5 had outgrown them.

My friend's son has them and her pediatrician said that it has to do with having to urinate. It sounded crazy to both of us, but the doc said that if you can get the child out of the bed and put them on the toilet and get them to pee, it will snap them out of it.

So, she has tried it several times now and swears by it.

I know it sounds crazy and illogical, but it's working for my friend. You might try it.

Good luck! I know how scary it is! It used to terrify me!