Have you experienced waking up in the middle of the night with your child screaming yet sleeping intently? Better not wake him up nor touch him.
But of course, you’re a parent and you can’t help it. If you like to soothe him back to sleep, you may sing quietly and calmly or talk to him gently. You just need to let the night terror run its course.
Yes, such incident is referred to as a night terror. How is it different from a nightmare?
Night terrors explained
Clinical psychologists explained that a nightmare is an upsetting dream that occurs during dream sleep stage or REM. It is the last third of the night stage.
A night terror, on the other hand, happens at the first third of the night or approximately 90 minutes after falling asleep. This stage is usually the smooth transition between sleep or the deep non-dream sleep. Such is a type of sleep disturbance making one cry or scream, moan even, probably with his eyes wide open without being truly awake. An incident can continue from a few minutes to around an hour, and the person has no memory of the fearful sleep disturbance.
Night terror happens when one is under a great amount of stress. Others experience it because of the over-arousal of the central nervous system, which regulates brain activity. Studies suggest, too, that a night terror may happen in individuals who are prone to overtiredness. Those with fever may also experience night terrors.
Dealing with night terrors
What should a parent do when his child is experiencing a night terror? Also, what are the possible actions to prevent night terror from happening?
Your child may appear inconsolable but after such episode, he will not remember anything about it. The first thing a parent should do is to calm himself and not his child. He may give reassuring phrases and loving hugs if the kid permits.
Follow a regular sleeping time. Permitting a child to stay up late only lets him charge arousal hormones to keep him awake. Letting him sleep early not only gives him adequate sleep but also lessens the possibility of over-arousal and overstress.
Allow the night terror to run its course. Waking the child may only bring him confusion as to why you woke him up in the first place. He may also be left notably disoriented to the point of temporary amnesia. He has no recollection of what is happening so again, let the episode run its course.
You may also practice scheduled awakening. This means you wake your youngster about 15 minutes before his usual night terror attacks. This is only doable if you have seen a pattern and you have noticed your kid’s night terror happens about the same time each night. Waking him up means he is able to avoid the night terror.
Studies show that television programs can bring negative impact to a child’s developing brain. He may see the conflicts portrayed in those programs as real, thus stressing him out. If possible then, limit a child’s viewing time or his access to television programs especially if he is less than two years old.
Surviving children’s night terrors
Night terrors are more common in children between two 1/2 to six years old. As they age and reach teenage years, they usually grew out of them.
A night terror remains far longer in the parent who has seen the whole episode than in the child who lived it. Unless you see a possible danger, do not attempt to wake him. The episode will soon past without your youngster knowing it occurred. Let patience be on your side and have faith in God.