Could It Be Night Terrors

Updated on September 30, 2008
J.M. asks from Tewksbury, MA
12 answers

A little back ground...
My one and a half year old daughter has what I thought to be night terrors.. It started at about two and a half to 3 months old, right around the time she started sleeping through the night which would have been great had her 15 month old brother not had them too.. He, however, would belt out this shriek of a cry and cry for anywhere from 5-15 minutes and then silence.. But the doctor told me they were night terrors and would go away.. they did.... Oct 2007.. anyway... my daughter is completely different.. She just cries.. from 30 minutes to 4 hours in her sleep.. Only occasionally would she scream. She also had a mild ace of acid reflux.. so because she didn't scream, I thought it was acid.. Well she had grown out of the acid issue but is still doing the crying all night.. but the past 2 weeks she actually started screaming during her naps and has been standing up, shaking all over.. she was trembling so intensely I thought she could have had a heart attack.. Not likely I know.. but it just seemed so intense.. One time she was pointing at something that she thought was there.. This has only happened four times... I picked her up and just held her until she was all calm. I can't tell she if she is sleeping or awake.... At night.. her eyes are closed and she doesn't get up.. but because it is so much more intense during those episodes I just cant tell.. Now I have been told by the doctor that all these things that both kids were doing was night terrors.. but after reading what other parents have been through, I am not so sure.. Could this be a milder case of it or could this be something else..
Oh and to top it all off... we are undergoing construction so both babies are in our room!!! No idea what sleep is anymore..LOL..

Thanks in advance for any thoughts,
Tired but chipper,

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answers from Burlington on

Hi J.,

My son would have bad dreams 3 - 5 times per night every night when he was 3 - 5 years old. (Not much sleep for me either.) When he had fevers it seemed like he was hallucinating -- he didn't know who we were. I later discovered he had food intolerances. I put him on the Neanderthin diet. He rarely has bad dreams anymore. He also doesn't get sick as frequently as he used to -- which seemed like every other week! Nor does he vomit for unexplained reasons anymore. Wheat was the main culprit if you want to try eliminating one thing instead of multiple things from his diet if you so choose.

Good luck! I hope you all get good night sleeps soon!
: ) Maureen

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answers from Boston on

MY son (3 1/2) has been having night terrors for over a year and a half now. In the begining it was every night now it is only when he does not nap. He sits up and calls me shaking all over and his body is rigid and he cries for almost exactly 20 minutes every time. I hold him and sit with him until it stops and as soon as it does he is back to sleep adn relaxed. When my daughter had them she screamed and yelled and tried to climb me like a tree. She thought she was being attacked by bugs. My doctor feels they both had night terrors but feels it is really related to being over tired.



answers from Boston on

This happended to my son as well. My husband and I started to watch what we were watching on TV. I realized that when we watched things with vampires or shootings he would wake up screaming. (watching of course while he was sleeping) I think that he could here it even while he was sleeping. It would even happen when my husband and I would have an argument.

Needless to say, we watch what we see on TV now and how we use our words and raise our voices. The terrors stopped.

Babies and kids are so subseptable to many things more so than adults. After reading up on theese things and yes being a Christian woman I read my Bible and other books. It explained a lot.

Good luck and please let me know what happens.



answers from Boston on

What does your daughter watch on TV, if anything? Are there any 'negative' people that she encounters on a day to day basis? Children are very sensitive and sometimes feel more than adults do. Something you might consider normal and not scary may be terrifying to her subconsciously. Try to surround her with only positive emotions and experiences (though that's not always easy!).



answers from Springfield on


this sounds very difficult on a lot of levels. There are a lot of safe and natural herbal products and homeopathic products made for little ones your baby's age that will promote a more restful night's sleep. You can give it to her before bed.Chamomile, either as a tea, a homeopathic or a tincture is my herb of choice. It is very safe and also helps with teething. There are other homeopathic blended products made just for kids, e.g. Calm Forte. There is also Chamocalm (or something like that) made by Herbs for Kids--it is made with glycerin so kids love the taste.

You may want to check out Flower Essences, too. They are very mild, a vibrational therapy that works very subtly, and there are ones for nightmares. I have used Flower Essences (The brands are Flower Essence Society-FES or Bach makes a very nice "nighttime rescue" formula that promotes restful sleep but I don't know if it would work on nightmares, I suspect it would) very successfully with my 2-year old throughout his babydom to alleviate disorders such as separation anxiety and for weaning. Flower essences work to restore emotional balance. I love the regular Rescue Remedy for accidents and emotional trauma any time of the day. You could take it too, while this is happening, to give you extra perspective and emotional support. 4 drops every 15 mins until you feel better!

Finally, I would talk to your daughter every night before sleep. Tell her how much you love sleeping and how restful and restorative it is. Talk to her about dreaming and help her "program" herself to have dreams that are filled with the images, experiences, people and things she loves. Reind her that she always has the choice to change her dream to something she likes, or she can wake up and ask for cuddles if she doesn't like a dream. If she wakes up from a dream, ask her what she was dreaming about. At 18months she probably won't be able to tell you, but it starts laying the ground for when she WILL be able to tell you in another 4-10 months.

Let me know if you try anything and if it works.

Best of luck,



answers from Boston on

Hi J.,

It does sound like night terrors. I have 4 children, 2 of them have had night terrors. The terror spells can vary from child to child, but a common thread is they appear very distressed, (at first I thought they were awake because they were walking and their eyes were open, but they didn't respond when I spoke to them) It was very scary to me initially and I tried to wake them but it was impossible. I learned that leading them back to bed and lying down with them and soothingly stroking them helped them fall back into what appeared a more relaxed sleep. They had no memory of the event the next day.

The most scary night terror occurred when my son was a junior in high school he had outgrown the night terrors for a few years but he had been really sick and vomiting so the doctor gave him a shot of vistaril and we went home and he went to bed. Later that night he sleepwalked into my room having what look like a night terror only this time he was a very strong, strapping high school boy. I was a single mom and I was actually afraid of him because he was kind of fighting me and I couldn't wake him I was thankfully able to get him to go back to bed. Again, the next morning he had no memory of the event.

I now have a 7 year old daughter who regularly has night terrors. I have learned to deal with them and I no longer find them very frightening though they are unsettling to witness. Sometimes she is laughing hysterically eyes wide open and sound asleep that is really creepy. My parents said I used to walk in my sleep also. Both of my children are high achieving and socially very well liked. It is only the night terrors that are troubling. I wish you the best and a good nights sleep.

J. L.



answers from Boston on


I would get a second medical opinion. I really think there may be something else going on. I had night terrors as a middle school child, and I was having other issues. It is just a suggestion. I hope it all goes well.




answers from Boston on

I have 2 teen daughters, but when the oldest was a toddler she had the night terrors and it sounds very similar to what you are experiencing. She would shake and scream and even run around! her eyes would be open, but she didn't respond to our attempts to soothe and reassure her, she looked terrified and tried to get away from us- even kicking and thrashing when we tried to hold her to comfort her. It was horrible, and nothing we did during the day stopped or changed it- whether she was well rested or over stimulated, it didn't matter. We never watched anything upsetting (no nightly news for us!) only PBS and Disney and TLC children's shows. No scary movies. My husband and I rarely disagree and never fight, so it wasn't that. It was just the night terrors and no matter what we let her eat or drink or how we restricted it, nothing changed until she outgrew it. so- go ahead and try stuff, but don't feel discouraged if nothing works. Your child will eventually just stop having them. Hang in there, and take lots of naps!



answers from Springfield on

If she isn't waking up its a night terror if she's waking its a nightmare. If its a night terror she may be getting too hot at night. Try leavinga fan on or cracking a window or uncovering her and putting her light pjs. My oldest had them especially when he got too hot. One winter he slept in onsies bc he is always warm. I don't think he's ever been cold. I feel your pain. My youngest is 18 months old and isn't sleeping well. Good luck with your daughter I hope it passes quickly.



answers from Boston on

Ok I have a couple of questions.
Have you live in the house long?
And have you ever exprienced anything that you couldn't explain?
I am not trying to scare you, but it could be something paranormal.
You said that you are under construction and that tends to disturb sprits sometimes if they have an attachment to the house.
Also small children will often see and hear things that adults can because they still have and open mine and are more in tune to paranormal activity.
There is no need to be alarmed most sprits can not harm you or your children.
If you do feel threatened in anyway I would suggest contacting Paranormal Investigators like TAPS or QVP they can help you and they do it for free.
I am not trying to scare you just throwing out the possiblities.



answers from Lewiston on

Both opf my little ones have had nigh terrors as well. Not as bad as this but I do know you ar enot alone with this. I knew what was going on with my kids becasue i has seen it before only more like what you describe. With a friends child. Worse than not sleeping is feeling helpless with your own child. The good news is that she will outgrow this. Inthe menatime try to get a good nap in your self when you can. Even if it means getting a babysitter.



answers from New London on

Sure sounds like night terrors/partial wakings. My son cries and sometimes kicks too.

The more tired a child is, the more likely to get night terrors.

If these episodes occur at about the same time each night - then the following approach might work: about 15-20 minutes before an episode usually occurs, gently wake your child until he/she is just barely awake. Then let him/her go back to sleep on their own. For some reason jump starting the next sleep cycle really helps. You won't get much sleep during this time - but will in the long run.

I don't like Dr. Ferber's approach to sleep problems, but his book has some great explanations of sleep cycles. I have the revised edition and know it covers some topics more clearly. The chapter on partial wakings/night terrors is helpful.

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