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Thread: How do you know when it's a night terror?

  1. #1

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    Default How do you know when it's a night terror?

    How can you define a night terror with something else??

    My DS is almost 26 months old and the last few nights he has been waking up crying and begging to be let out (we have a baby gate on his door).

    Last night was the worst! He went to bed at 8.30, woke up at 12.30 crying, and 5 am crying... this may be normal to some others, but my son has slept through since he was 1 month old (except a few nights when he's been unwell)

    Nothing seems to work to make him go back to sleep except a bottle of milk- which I really don't like doing!! His room isn't too dark, we leave the door open a little and the bathroom has a night light.

    Is this a night terror??


  2. #2

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    Is he crying or is he hysterically screaming? When he it's happening, can you comfort him? Does he seem to still be asleep, not really there or is he awake & aware of his surroundings?

    Night Terrors as compared to nightmares & other things are characterised by the child not being able to respond to their surrounds. Basically until the terror is over, they are stuck in it & no amount of comforting will help them, it may even make them worse.

  3. #3

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    It is also unusual for them to wake fully from a night terror - when it is over, they usually go straight back to sleep. If your little one is waking for a bottle, then I'd say it's probably a nightmare, as opposed to a night terror.

    He's little for nightmares, but perhaps he has seen something scary recently and this is his way of processing it. At that age they are like sponges, and all sorts of things can set nightmares off - even a glimpse of something scary on the television from the corner of their eye, or a story someone told him that had some sort of scary significance that they didn't understand, or something like that.

  4. #4

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    Night terrors are really horrible things to go through. They will not respond to you and nothing you can do will settle then down till they go back to a restful sleep, which they just kind of fall into all of a sudden. Touch wood, we haven't had one in our house for a looong time!


  5. #5

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    I had a similar experience last night with ds - went to sleep as usual at 7.30, then started screaming at 9.30. He was sitting up in bed when I went in, but would not stop crying and screaming - wouldn't look at me or calm down when I cuddled him. I was thinking night terror, but after about 25 mins he finally calmed down enough to talk and he said "ear hurts". I asked which ear and he started rubbing his left one. He didn't want to lie back down, kept crying when I lay him down, so i gave him some panadol and let him fall asleep sitting on my lap on the couch. Put him back to bed and he was fine till woke at normal time this morning.

    So, if he hadn't told me his ear hurt I would have guessed night terror. It's so hard to tell sometimes when they can't tell you what's wrong.

  6. #6

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    Nick used to get night terrors at that age and it was awful, he would scream for ages, but we were told not to touch him from the dr because it can make it worse.
    He never woke up though, once it was over he would lie back down and go straight back to sleep, he didn't even know i was there.
    It sounds like your little one is just unsettled at the moment, all my boys went through this at some stage, i hope it doesn't last long for you though

  7. #7

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    Thank you so much everyone!

    He woke up again at 3.30 and I'm pretty sure he's awake, only because he comes to the gate and can see mum and dad's bed from there and moans and wants to be let out.

    I honestly don't know if it's nightmares or not! we really haven't been watching anything on tv lately, and he just sticks to kids shows. I still don't fully understand a night terror!

    so it's like sleep walking or something? When I wake up so comfort him he just screams and cries. I'd say he screams more- I mean I'm half asleep and blind as a bat when I wake up to see him.. so it just seems like a tantrum to me. I just don't know!

    He's never had this problem before and as I said, he's slept through since 1 month, so it's really getting to me, especially having his baby sister right next door!!

    maybe he's not well, but once he gets up, he's fine!!

  8. #8

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    Ohhhhhh, I feel your pain!!

    We are going through the same thing with DD, although she is older than your son, she turned 3 in Jan.

    We were thinking night terrors too but it's now been going on for 3 weeks and we know it's not.

    She has slept through without incident since 8 months (she was sleeping through earlier but not every single night iykwim) so it's a rude shock when they suddenly start waking again.

    She had said some strange things about flies in her ears so I took her to the drs to have her checked over and after speaking to him and mentioning that she's also been having accidents at home (which she hasn't done since TT) he thinks its separation anxiety

    He said it was common around her age, especially because she's just started pre school, has a new baby brother, has changed bedrooms and moved to a big bed, all in the last 6 months.

    We're trying to ride it out and hope it passes soon but I admit getting up to 2 of them is wearing me out and at times (like last night) I lose my patience with her especially when she wakes her brother (like last night!).

  9. #9

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    Oh Willow, I hope it gets better soon for you!!

    I'm just going to bed now, so fingers crossed that he sleeps through (although it is boiling hot Melbourne weather at the moment, so probably not!)

    Yes maybe the whole experience of having a new big bed is getting to him... I don't see how a bottle of milk helps that though?! lol

    I wish he could communicate properly.. I think that's the main thing that gets to me.. I never know what he wants.

    Oh well ! Wish me luck tonight LOL

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