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Old 01-03-2007, 10:54 AM   #1
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Night Terrors?

Have any of you had children or grandchildren that have had night terrors? Our daughter just started having them a few weeks ago. At first she'd have one every few nights but now it's nightly. She's only 13 1/2 months, which is early for them to start, but the doctor said it's possible. She said often it's a sign of a very bright, alert child. Some trade-off! They're awful--she'll scream and wail, sometimes calling "mama!" which breaks my heart, and toss and turn. Sometimes she'll wake up and then really freak out but a lot of times she stays at least somewhat asleep. Needless to say, they're providing for some long, tiring nights. The weird thing is that when she naps during the day (which still isn't a regular occurrence!), she's fine.

Any tips on what to do? I've heard that most kids grow out of them eventually but I just talked to someone yesterday whose niece is 6 years old and has been having them since she was a baby! They take their toll on all of us, but I really just feel so badly for Sofie.

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Old 01-03-2007, 10:58 AM   #2
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My son went thru them for about six months when he was 3 or so. The worst part of the whole thing was that we could not wake him from them--not even with a cold wash cloth on the face or a walk outdoors in the cold. He would just scream and cry for 10 or 15 minutes, and then gradually quiet down.

No tips, except that they will stop eventually.
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Old 01-03-2007, 11:27 AM   #3
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PA, Kate used to have such terrible night terrors and she would have her eyes open but still be asleep. It was tough to wake her. Poor Sofie and poor YOU!

One of my friends has been dealing with this and had wonderful success with a timing method. (They consulted a sleep specialist) Apparently, night terrors always begin at the same point in the sleep cycle so you can stop them if you wake the child and then settle them again. They begin at 90 minutes. So, when you put Sofie down, time her and wake her up at about 80 minutes, then settle her and start timing again. I know that will make for some seriously tired parents, but my friend tells me this worked wonders for her. Her daughter was considerably older than Sofie, but they have had no recurrance of the terrors since they did this. They did this for about a week, then one night they were so exhausted they forgot to wake her, but it was OK anyway, and they've had nothing since.
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Old 01-03-2007, 11:48 AM   #4
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Thanks, sparrow and Alix. Yes, we've had that, too, where I think she's awake since her eyes are open and I try talking to her or moving her only to start her screaming again. That's very confusing--and scary--when I'm half asleep myself!

The timing method is fascinating, Alix! I need to start paying attention to when they occur, but off the top of my head, I do think they start about 90 minutes after she goes down at night. She'll often wake up after 30-45 minutes, which I've heard is a standard sleep cycle at the start of sleep, but she doesn't have them then and it's usually easy to get her back to sleep. So that makes sense.
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Old 01-03-2007, 11:54 AM   #5
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I'm trying to remember the sleep cycle info I had and from what I remember a typical sleep cycle is about 90 minutes or so. Thats why it is better to sleep for 7.5 hours than 8. You wake more refreshed if you wake at the end of a cycle than in the middle of one. I think that the night terrors come just at the end of the sleep cycle in heavy REM sleep and if you can interrupt them before they start then you break the pattern and they don't recur.
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Old 01-03-2007, 02:05 PM   #6
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My mom used to have them as a baby also. She outgrew them. Billy I think even had them for a time. Or at least bad dreams and he'd open his eyes yet not be awake. After a few minutes we could get him calmed down. It was tough but we got through them. Just be patient.
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Old 01-03-2007, 02:15 PM   #7
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I have a friend in his mid 20's and suffers from night terrors. He(and his Dr.)have dialed the cause down to the sleep meds, like zoloft or something, and the extra release of seratonin.

Also, what you eat, especially if it is within an hour of going to bed, greatly effect your dreams and sleep. Cheese and Dairy can cause very vivid, and sometimes scary, dreams.
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Old 01-03-2007, 02:19 PM   #8
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Max had them too. I just know he outgrew them fairly quickly. A friend's child had them for longer. Alix's suggestion sounds like a winner!
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Old 01-03-2007, 10:40 PM   #9
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I never heard of babies having night terrors. How terrible! I hope Alix's suggestion helps. I have had night terrors for years. Other than the fact that some of them have scared the pants off of me, they can be kind of interesting (after the fact, not during!). Many of mine are simple things, like waking up (only not really being fully awake--asleep enough to be dreaming but awake enough to really believe it is real and to be able to get out of bed and move around, unlike during a nightmare) and seeing bees flying all over the bedroom or a snake coiled up around the light fixture. Some are silly, like a few weeks ago I saw my students from school under my bed working on a Social Studies project. Some are very simple, like dreaming that I was writing something and looking all over the bed for the pen. I had a repeat performance of my scariest one. I "woke up" and the bedroom floor had split and there were huge, about 20 feet high razor-sharp metal blades coming up out of the ground. For some reason I felt I had to get to the other side of the room and it terrified me because I didn't know how to get past them. When I married James I told him that I get these and that if he sees me get up and start acting funny, not to laugh at me because what I am seeing is extremely real to me at the time. Poor James! A few months ago I saw James standing over me with a knife or something, about to attack me! Of course he was sound asleep, UNTIL I whacked him very hard (to protect myself) and woke him up. I think I get my night terrors when I am over-stressed and over-tired. I don't get them as often as I used to.

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Old 01-04-2007, 09:20 AM   #10
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Thanks for your replies! If nothing else, you've assured me that we will get through this and that I won't die of exhaustion even though it sure feels like it most mornings!

Alix, Nathan started timing the cycles last night (picture him clutching his watch, a pen and paper, huddled by the baby monitor! ) and after she woke up 2ce within 30 minute spans (not upset) she lasted 70 minutes before she started tossing and moaning. I went in and picked her up, cuddled for a bit and she went back under without a problem. She only had one nasty one in the middle of the night--sat straight up in her crib, opened her eyes and started screaming "go! go!", so I don't know about that cycle. I'm wondering if hers might be shorter because of her age.

Barbara, our doc said taht babies have bad dreams just like grown-ups, but about fears relevant to them--really wet diapers, being hungry, not seeing Mama or Daddy...that kind of thing. Sounds like James better watch his back when he sleeps!
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