One minute, you’re all snuggled up fast asleep and the next, your baby is screaming blue murder and thrashing about like a madman. When you try to comfort her, she seems completely oblivious to your presence and there’s absolutely nothing you can do to calm her down. If this sounds familiar, your baby may be experiencing night terrors.
What is a night terror?
Night terrors are thought to affect around 6% of children. Unlike a nightmare, night terrors don’t make it into our memory stores. Night terrors occur during the stage between periods of deep to light sleep. And they can be pretty distressing to witness because there’s not much you can do to help. They are most likely to occur during the first few hours of sleep.
During a night terror, your child may:
- Seem scared
- Be aggressive
- Wet the bed
- Get out of bed and move around
- Not respond to you
- Generally, act like a possessed child from a horror movie
The good news is, unlike a nightmare which will leave your child with an unpleasant memory, your child won’t remember the night terror and so will probably go straight back to sleep again after. Leaving you lying awake wondering whether it’s possible your child could be possessed (highly unlikely).
What can you do if your baby had a night terror
Nothing, really. Your baby won’t have any idea that you’re even there, you won’t be able to soothe her or offer words of reassurance. Trying to cuddle her or lift her up will probably leave her feeling even more distressed. All you can do is sit with her, make sure she’s safe and wait until the night terror stops (oh, and hope your neighbors aren’t annoyed at the rude awakening).
Night terrors are more likely to occur when your child is overtired. You may find that bringing your child’s bedtime forward slightly or encouraging more naps during the day helps to reduce the number of night terrors. Your baby should grow out of night terrors in time. If you are concerned about your child’s night terrors, speak to your healthcare provider for advice.
Does your baby experience night terrors?
Written by Fiona (@Fiona_Peacock), mother, writer and lover of all things baby related.
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2016. All rights reserved.