Sleep, Toddler

Sleep, Toddler

How to Make Night Terrors Less Terrifying

Screaming, thrashing and yelling in the night can put any parent on edge, but keeping calm is key.

12.9.2019

While night terrors can be scary for parents, they’re perfectly normal and aren’t traumatizing for — or a sign of trauma in — children

Screaming, thrashing and yelling in the night can put any parent on edge, but keeping calm is key.

“As a parent, you feel very helpless because there’s really nothing you can do to make them feel safe,” said Cary, a photographer and mother of five in Madison, Wis. “If it was a nightmare, you could wake them up and give them hugs and tell them everything’s O.K. and they’d realize that they’re O.K. But with a night terror you can’t do that.”

Science does offer clues, however, to common triggers for these episodes and appropriate ways for parents to handle them.

While children pass through this phase, they sleep more deeply than adults, which means they’re even harder to wake, and they stay in deep sleep longer, said Dr. Rafael Pelayo, M.D., a clinical professor in the Division of Sleep Medicine at Stanford University. Night terrors occur during this deep sleep stage, generally during the first half of the night. During these episodes, some parts of the brain, including the limbic system — which helps regulate the body’s sleep-wake cycle, among other functions — stay in deep sleep while the parts of the brain that operate movement and motor functions transition out, creating a situation where the child is “caught in between the awake world and sleep world,” Dr. Pelayo said.

Dr. Sachin Relia, M.D., a child and adolescent psychiatrist and sleep physician at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., recommended removing any sharp or dangerous objects from your child’s room before bedtime, and quietly watching to make sure she self-soothes during an episode and returns to sleep on her own. If she gets out of bed, gently guide her back without trying to wake her up.

Read more: The New York Times

Yes they are normal and can be worrisome for parents, but they are not for no reason. they are a sign of what’s going on in the child’s head… They get these “terrors” which is trying to resolve fears they have in their own minds… My oldest — now 15 — had these as a toddler. They were absolutely terrifying, WTF experiences. But they passed.

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