Friday, September 29, 2017

Dealing with Night Terrors

If there is a me-time activity I hold sacred, it is sleeping. Unfortunately for me my baby girl is not a straight sleeper. For one, bed time is a hit or miss for us. She either goes to sleep easily by 9 pm, or it takes forever for her to settle down because she is just bouncing with energy. It is during those times that I employ every way I know to get her to fall asleep (singing, reading, stroking her hair, Reiki, homeopathy, even a bottle of milk which I know is not ideal).

Those moments she easily falls asleep are some of the most successful feelings in the world. Until one evening the night terrors came. It didn’t happen just once. It happened many times. My husband and I didn’t know how to deal with it so we did our research.

What are Night Terrors?

Night Terrors are very different from nightmares. Nightmares usually occur when the child is in the REM state of sleep, meaning he is in a dream state and is about to wake up. Night terrors occur during the first few hours of deep sleep. It seems like they are awake because sometimes they open their eyes. They scream and cry and are very inconsolable. It’s difficult to awaken a child who is having night terrors. And when they do, they don’t usually remember anything and it is as if nothing happened.

Night terrors (even nightmares) tend to occur when a child is over stimulated just before bedtime. It can also occur when a child is lacking in nap time sleep or when he is overtired.

My little girl would “wake up” at around midnight screaming and crying. Sometimes she would scream, “Don’t like! Carry, mommy, carry!” My first instinct would be to pick her up and carry her, but she would scream and cry even harder when I do and would kick so that I would put her down. Then she would repeat screaming, “Carry, mommy, carry!” I would pick her up again and she would scream, “Don’t like!” and struggle to be put down.

Happy after a good sleep!
As terrifying as it might be for her while it is going on, it was also terrifying for me as it would go on for a whole 20 minutes or so. She would scream even harder when my husband would be the one to pick her up. It’s one of those times when she loses all coherence. It’s like she knows and doesn’t know what she wants, is asleep but is awake at the same time.

Over time and after further reading on the subject, we learned that slightly waking her up a few hours into her sleep prevents the night terrors from coming. We noticed that it usually happens at around 11:30 pm, around the time we are about to go to sleep. So before my husband and I settle down for the night we change her diaper. It doesn’t wake her up, but it is enough to disrupt her sleep cycle and reset when we settle her back down in her crib or on our bed. Thankfully, we have not had an episode since we started doing that. Good bye, night terrors!

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