A baby lying on a bed with a teddy bear

How to deal with night terrors

April 12, 2017

Over the past few years, Tigger has been suffering from night terrors. We’ve tried to find a trigger for them, checking whether it is food related, environment, or had a bad day etc. However, the only link we have found is that they usually happen days before he comes down with an illness.

The first few times that they occurred I will be completely honest and tell you that I was terrified (they still do scare me but my mind goes onto autopilot as to how to help him through it). Hearing him call out, grunt and scream before walking into his room to find him covered in sweat and thrusting about his bed. I gather him up in my arms, I can feel his heart racing and his erratic breathing. I hold him close, gently stroking his head whispering – it’s OK, mummy is here, as I wait for the night terror to pass.

A baby lying on a bed with a teddy bear

Night terror symptoms

  • Calling out, grunting and screaming
  • Sweating from head to toe
  • Writhing and thrusting under the bed sheets
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Erratic breathing
  • Being inconsolable
  • Staring wide-eyed

How to deal with night terrors

Dealing with night terrors can at first feel daunting and make you feel very much out of your comfort zone. However, there are a few simple things you can do to help your children who suffer from night terrors.

  • Make sure that they are in a place of safety, i.e. they are not going to fall or injury themselves. Gathering them up in your arms and holding them close so that their writhing and thrusting is restricted can be a good support for them
  • Do not wake them – allow for the night terror to pass, as hard as this may be
  • Keep a note of the time that the night terror occurred
  • As soon as they have come round take them to the bathroom to urinate. It is believed that there is a link between a full bladder triggering night terrors and if they do not use the toilet they will wet themselves
  • Keep them awake for around 30 minutes after the night terror before settling them back to bed
  • Do not ask them about their night terror the morning after as they will not be able to recall the terror and you may distress them by asking about it
  • Wait to see if the night terror repeats again the following evening, noting the time it occurred.
    • If it does happen the following evening complete the steps above, however, the following evening gently wake them 30 minutes prior to the night terror times and take them to the toilet before settling them back to bed.
    • Continue to so this for 3-4 days to break the cycle.

Please note that the above advice is based on our own experiences with night terrors and you should always consult a health professional if you have any concerns

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