During the school year my children went on a class trip to a wolf preserve. Both my 3 yr daughter & now 5 yr old son went on the trip with their preschool classmates from school. My daughter told me before the trip that she didn’t want to go. I just brushed it off and told her that there was nothing to be afraid of and that it would be like going to the zoo which we often go to.After the trip, my son came home all excited and showed me how he could make howling sounds just like the wolves, but my daughter didn’t say much.
That night my son teased her a lot with the howling and she started to get upset. I told him to stop and then we forgot about the wolves. After our nightly routine of brushing teeth, bedtime story, and prayer – everyone went to bed. Around 10:30pm, my daughter woke up screaming. I ran to her room and tried to console her. She just sat there in her bed rocking back and forth saying “I want my mommy” between cries. I tried everything to get her to stop crying and realize that I was there. But it seemed like she was stuck in her dream even though her eyes were open. It was the oddest thing.
After she calmed down (after about 20 minutes) I laid down with her in her bed and gently stroked her face and rubbed her back. I tried to ask her what happened and if she had a bad dream. She shook her head yes and then told me that she didn’t want the wolves to get her. I started to feel horrible, because I knew she didn’t want to go on the class trip, but at the same time I didn’t want her to back out because of fear. It is so much better to face your fear head on so you can get over it easily.
My daughter has always been a bit afraid of dogs and prior to the class trip her preschool teachers were teaching the class about wolves and doing crafts and things like that. So, she knew ahead of time what she was going to see and she was scared about it. I really had no idea though, that she would come home and start having nightmares about it.
It has been 2 or 3 months since the trip and still she has nightmares at least once a week. Sometimes they are just plain nightmares and sometimes they are night terrors.
I did some research on night terrors and found that they are actually a common sleep problem in children. 15% of young children have them occasionally and the most common ages are between 2 and 6 years old.
Here is info that I found on www.pediatrics.about.com
When you hear how most experts describe night terrors, it is easy to see why parents find them distressing. Children who have night terrors are usually described as ‘bolting upright’ with their eyes wide open, with a look of fear and panic, and letting out a ‘blood curdling scream’. These kids will usually also be sweating, breathing fast and have a rapid heart rate (autonomic signs). And although it will seem like they are awake, during a night terror, children will appear confused, will not be consolable and won’t recognize you.Typical night terrors last about 5 to 30 minutes and afterwards, children usually return to a regular sleep. If you are able to wake your child up during a night terror, he is likely to become scared and agitated, mostly because of your own reaction to the night terror, especially if you were shaking or yelling at him to wake up. Instead of trying to wake up a child having a night terror, it is usually better to just make sure he is safe, comfort him if you can, and help him return to sleep once it is over.
The diagnosis of night terrors is usually made by the history of a child ‘waking’ early in the night screaming and being inconsolable. Night terrors are most often confused with nightmares, but unlike night terrors, a child having a nightmare is usually easily woken up and comforted.The other worry for many parents is that these episodes are a type of seizure. Although different types of partial seizures, including temporal lobe and frontal lobe epilepsy, can appear similar to night terrors, they are usually brief (30 seconds to a few minutes) and are more common in older children and adults.
No treatment is usually necessary for routine night terrors. Since they are often triggered in children who are overtired, sticking to a good bedtime routine and making sure your child is getting enough rest can help to prevent them. For children who get frequent night terrors, it might help to wake your child up before the time that he usually has a night terror. This is thought to interrupt or alter the sleep cycle and prevent night terrors from occurring (it also works for sleepwalking).
What you Need to Know
- Rarely, sleep medications might be used for a short time if your child gets very frequent night terrors.
- Night terrors are also called sleep terrors or pavor nocturnus.
- Similar to sleepwalking and sleeptalking, night terrors are considered to be a disorder of arousal and are a partial arousal from non-REM sleep.
- Unlike a nightmare, children usually don’t recall having a night terror. Also unlike nightmares, night terrors usually occur in the early part of the night, about 1 to 4 hours after going to sleep.
- If your child gets night terrors, make sure that baby sitters and other caregivers are aware of them and know what they should do if one occurs.
- Most children outgrow night terrors as they get older.
The odd thing is that my daughter is not really over tired, because she does nap during the day. But I might try waking her up and see if that works. Because my daughter has no recollection of the nightmares then they would be considered night terrors. They also happen about 2 hours after she falls asleep – never any later than that. I am really hoping that she will grow out of this. We have been praying over her each night as well.