Night Terrors 411



night terrors 411They say the biggest act of love is when your child wakes you up in the middle of the night crying at the top of their lungs, yelping for help. There’s no greater love than that gesture from your child. Right?

Well, in my case, my two-year-old has been making this “loving gesture” ever since she was nine months old. I wanted to look into it because, to me, it didn’t seem normal and it wasn’t fair. What was making her cry? And why wasn’t she sleeping at least eight hours straight?

Night Terrors: What you need to know

In my research, I came across an article from the National Institute of Health which described my daughter’s condition, under the sleep disorder umbrella, as night terrors. The more I read, the more I realized that my child had a somewhat mild to sometimes aggressive form of this disorder.

So what is it? The National Institute of Health describes night terrors as a sleep disorder in which a person quickly awakens from sleep crying, but often just needs to be comforted.

What causes this is the simple lack of sleep, emotional tension, or stress and conflict. Now, I ask myself, what can be causing my nine-month-old (now two-year-old) to be stressed or emotionally disturbed? It wasn’t so much that she had bills to pay or errands to run or spousal disagreements, but maybe, at some point in the day, mom had to get after her for something — which caused her to internalize the situation.

I also believe that with her wild and hyper imagination, things like Frozen, PJ Masks, or a Bubble Guppies songs might make her restless and irritable in her sleep. I have noticed that when she does have a night terror it’s usually between midnight and 3 AM, and lasts about three seconds to five minutes before settling down. At first, my husband and I would rush to her side turn on the lights. But soon enough, we noticed she was not awake; rather, she was asleep and she wouldn’t even remember the episode later on.

What’s an exhausted parent to do?

How were we to deal with this, especially when she shares a room with her older sister? Those of us that have children sharing rooms know how sacred guarding sleep is. What we do is simply turn her over to her side, stroke her curls, give her a kiss on the cheek, cover her back up and, of course, give her her “Fufa” and “Lambie” to sleep with. Then, we head back to bed.

Mind you, this has been almost three years in the making, and we have just caught on to this disorder. It can be very difficult to understand that it’s just your child’s restless mind when you’re hearing her screaming as if someone is trying to take her away.  I’ve also made sure that before going to sleep there’s a positive environment, that she knows that it’s going to “be okay,” and that she needs to go to sleep to have another fun and exciting day tomorrow.  The article did state that night terrors usually run in families, and I do admit that I used to sleepwalk a few times, talk in my sleep, cry and awaken scared as well.

This changed my night cycle for a few days. I was waking up and thinking, “What is my toddler dreaming about? What is she feeling?” At times, I feel desperate and spray holy water on her bed and a little bit on her forehead before bedtime. But, above all, I want to reassure all the other mommies out there that go through this (or have gone through this) that it will pass, and that there’s absolutely no greater love than to know that your child needs a pat on the head and a kiss on the cheek at 3:00 AM.

Are you dealing with night terrors or a similar sleep disorder? What do you and your child do to cope?

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AnaLaura Ruiz
AnaLaura, born in Mexico City and raised in the RGV,is married and in love with husband Martin Ruiz. Together they have been blessed with three quesadilla eating girls Camila (4), Anabelen (2) and Gemma (3m). When she's not pinning,she's salsa dancing. When she's not dancing, she's facebooking,cooking,cleaning, volunteering or all at once and in between a "mami". As a former elementary teacher, this housewife and full time mummy's daily lesson plan changes by the minute! Somedays are hectic, some are adventurous but with endless hugs, kisses and diapers!!


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