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2/20/13blog post

things that go bump in the night...night terrors

Mary has been doing great sleeping through the night – sometimes up to 12 hours – gotta love toddlers!

However, a few weeks ago (while battling a cold) she woke up just screaming. I went into her room, picked her up but nothing would comfort her. She was kicking and thrashing and when my husband tried to comfort her she kicked him too. We put her down and she kicked and screamed on the floor and then got up and nearly ran out of her bedroom. The scariest part was that she didn’t seem to recognize us and kept yelling “no!”

What a horrible feeling – not being able to comfort your child. She is normally really good if we can give her a hug and hold her – but not this night.

Luckily, my father-in-law who happened to be staying with us that evening came into Mary’s room and said, “You know, I bet she is having a night terror.” Great – breath- holding and now night terrors!

I took Mary downstairs and let her sit by me until she settled down. Then she fell back asleep. Then the research began…

According to KidsHealth, a night terror is a sleep disruption that seems similar to a nightmare, but with a far more dramatic presentation. I would call it drama. And as we found out – night terrors aren’t dreams. They happen during deep non-REM sleep. Unlike nightmares (which occur during REM sleep), a night terror is not technically a dream, but more like a sudden reaction of fear that happens during the transition from one sleep phase to another.

That clears things up.

During the next well-child visit we talked to Mary’s pediatrician about the night terror and he said should it happen again, which it probably will, not to take her out of the crib and just let her work her way through it. For me, the safety implication comes into play when we move Mary into a big girl bed (don’t know when this will happen yet) and if she gets out of bed and runs into something in her bedroom or falls down the stairs. This may require putting the baby gate back up if she’s getting the terrors a lot…I guess another bridge to cross when the time comes.