I often hear about parents discussing night terrors, but unless your child has suffered with night terrors you maybe unsure how they differ from nightmares. I wasn't too sure myself until a couple of weeks ago, Trudy began to wake and scream each night at about 9pm. It was awful to watch her scream and try and climb out of bed. I brought her downstairs as no amount of cuddles would stop the screams. Then suddenly she would stop, flop into me and go back to sleep like nothing had happened. I was left traumatised at this worrying scene of her screaming at me like I was a monster, and she was snoring in my arms peacefully. I then realised 10 minutes later that she wasn't awake in the first place, so me trying to soothe her was going to have no affect. This occurred a few nights in a row so I turned to google to see what I could find out....
What are Night Terrors?
Night terrors occur in deep, non dream sleep (NREM) which is usually the first part of the night. The child may appear awake with their eyes open and scream, thrash around, hit out or leap out of bed. However the child isn't awake and cannot be comforted. The episode can last up to 15 minutes.
Why do they occur?
They usually affect children from the ages of 3 up to 8 years old, my little girl is 3 so this makes sense. It is believed that they can occur because your child is sleeping particularly deeply, meaning it is more likely to occur if they are overtired or unwell. It is thought they they may also occur if they are woken suddenly, by having a full bladder or a sudden noise, etc.
What to do during a night terror?
As the child is asleep and cannot recognise you, it is not advised that you wake them unless they are putting themselves in danger. Keep them safe if they are thrashing about or trying to leap out of bed. Unofrtunately knowing that it will pass and they will have no recollection of the episode is as much consolation that a parent will have.
Thankfully we seem to have managed to stop these night terrors by introducing a good night time routine. We begin our wind down time by doing a few yoga stretches together, followed by a warm bath and then a massage.
Upon a recommendation I purchased 'Sleepy' a body cream from Lush. It is infused with lavender, oatmeal and tonka beans. It smells dreamy and because it is made with coca butter Trudy's skin is moisturised too. The smell is lasting on her pyjamas and bedding, so the smell continues throughout the night.
Fingers crossed we have found a bedtime routine that relaxes her and soothes her into a good, comforting sleep without the disturbance of night terrors.
Becky is a baby massage and baby yoga instructor based on the Yorkshire Coast in Scarborough and Filey. She loves helping parents along on their new journey as parents encouraging bonding, love and helping with issues such as colic and sleep. Baby massage and baby yoga classes, workshops and one to one sessions are available to book.