About Me

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Nightmares vs Night Terrors...

For almost a week now, my little girl has been waking up middle of the night screaming at the top of her lungs angrily with bouts of kicking and punching her pillows. I thought she was having a nightmare so I always go to her bed during fits like these and try to comfort her. But oftentimes, the more I give her attention, the more she resorts to screaming and kicking. 

I had no idea what my little girl was going through. I am not only losing sleep but getting worried whenever she has nightmares. Then, just last night, she was having another episode.
This time, she was really angry and her eyes were really flashing and her mouth pouted in her "angry tiger look". For a time, I got really scared of her. Whats worse, I couldn't understand her. It was like she was a totally different kid altogether.

All I ever did to calm not only her but myself was to pray for her. And yet I never really understood what it was in her dreams that bothered her since in the morning when I ask her about her dream, she doesn't remember anything or the fact that she was screaming and kicking with her eyes open (seeming awake to me). 

Until I came upon an article about "Night Terrors". So here are a few articles differentiating nightmares from night terrors that I would like to share with you in case you also find yourself in the same situation as I was last night. :)

What are nightmares?

Nightmares are scary dreams. Most children have them from time to time. Most nightmares happen very late in the sleep period (usually between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m.). Your child may wake up and come to you for comfort. Usually, he or she will be able to tell you what happened in the dream and why it was scary. Your child may have trouble going back to sleep. Your child might have the same dream again on other nights.

What are night terrors?

Some children have a different kind of scary dream called a "night terror." Night terrors happen during deep sleep (usually between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m.). A child having a night terror will often wake up screaming. He or she may be sweating and breathing fast. Your child's pupils (the black center of the eye) may look larger than normal. At this point, your child may still be asleep, with open eyes. He or she will be confused and might not answer when you ask what's wrong. Your child may be difficult to wake. When your child wakes, he or she usually won't remember what happened. Children who have night terrors may also sleepwalk. 

Info from www.familydoctor.com 

How are night terrors different from nightmares?

Unlike a night terror, a nightmare leaves your child truly awake — he can remember his dream and sometimes talk about it, and he'll seek out and feel comforted by your presence. Also, kids have nightmares during dream (REM) sleep, often in the early morning hours between 2 and 6 a.m. They commonly have night terrors, on the other hand, in the first few hours of the night, during deep non-dream (non-REM) sleep.

The easiest way to tell the difference between a night terror and a nightmare, according to BabyCenter sleep expert Jodi A. Mindell, author of Sleeping Through the Night, is to ask yourself who's more upset about it the next morning. "If your child is more agitated, he had a nightmare. If you're the one who's disturbed, he probably had a night terror." Rest assured, the "terror" of a night terror lingers far longer in the parent who watched it than in the child who lived it.

What should I do if my child has a night terror?

Don't try to wake him. And expect that your efforts to comfort him will be rebuffed — a child having a night terror really can't be calmed down, and if you try to hold him it may make him wilder. Unless he's in danger of hurting himself, don't attempt to physically comfort him. Just speak calmly, put yourself between him and anything dangerous (the headboard of his bed, for instance), and wait for the storm to pass. Before you go to bed, take the same precautions you would for a sleepwalker, since children in the grip of a night terror often stumble out of bed: Pick up any toys or objects on the floor that he could trip on, fasten a gate at the top of the stairs, and make sure windows and outside doors are locked.

What causes night terrors, and can they be prevented?

There's no definitive way to prevent night terrors because no one knows exactly what causes them. What is known is that night terrors, on their own, do not mean a child has a psychological problem or is even upset about something. Night terrors can result from an erratic or insufficient sleep schedule or any type of sleep deprivation. Solving any other sleep problems your child has (such as getting up in the middle of the night) and making sure he has a regular bedtime with a calming routine and gets enough hours of sleep can help ward off night terrors. In certain cases, night terrors can be triggered by sleep apnea, a serious but correctable disorder in which enlarged tonsils and adenoids (normal tissue in the throat) block airway passages during sleep, making it difficult to breathe and prompting a child to partially awaken.

Info from www. babycenter.com


  1. This is some great information. My son also had night terrors when he was growing up. my husband and I tried techniques to get our son to go to sleep that we found at http://onlineceucredit.com/edu/social-work-ceus-sd. I hope that your little girl is able to overcome the night terrors soon.

  2. thanks for reading my blog angelia.. we're okay now :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...