Night Terrors: Horror for the Whole Family

BooBoo, my 4 year old has been having night terrors lately.

I hope you’re sending me like mountains of virtual hugs right now because I really need them. These night terror things totally blow!

If you don’t know what night terrors (or sleep terrors) are, I’ll rely on the good people at the Mayo Clinic to fill you in:

“Sleep terrors are episodes of fear, flailing and screaming while asleep. Also known as night terrors, sleep terrors often are paired with sleepwalking.”

So what are the symptoms? According to the Mayo Clinic:

During a sleep terror episode, a person might:

  • Sit up in bed
  • Scream or shout
  • Kick and thrash
  • Sweat, breathe heavily and have a racing pulse
  • Be hard to awaken
  • Be inconsolable
  • Get out of bed and run around the house
  • Engage in violent behavior (more common in adults)
  • Stare wide-eyed

Allow me to fill you in on my personal experience with these frightening episodes:

8:00 pm: Good night; sweet dreams. Notice I didn’t say dreams that call for an exorcism. 

11:00 pm: [whimpering] I race into BooBoo’s room at the whimper cue to find him with his eyes wide open, jumping up and down trying desperately to outrun whatever is chasing him. His escape scenario quickly escalates to screaming and shaking from sheer terror of which I can do nothing to stop. He looks right through me, remains non-responsive to his name and doesn’t want to be held or touched.

Visions of Linda Blair race through my head (obvi) while my husband and I stand by and watch in horror, making sure he doesn’t hurt himself or anyone else.

11:10 pm: I’m able to lead him back into bed and where he falls back into a peaceful sleep almost immediately.

11:13 pm: I cry my eyes out and go online for support (and perhaps a shot of hard liquor to calm my nerves).

The next morning everything is fine. BooBoo is demon-free and as happily well-rested as ever. I wish I could say the same.

All the research and Facebook support has taught me that I’m not alone in the horror of night terrors. Although every child is different, there are several factors that can contribute to these sleep disturbances in children.

I’ve been doing everything I can to minimize the recurrence of sleep terrors but I’m hoping he outgrows this thing as quickly as he grew into it.

Please share, do your children experience night terrors?

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