Monday, March 1, 2010

Night Terrors R Us

So, how many of you know the difference between a nightmare and a night terror? More than likely not many. Most people use the term night terror as if it synonymous with nightmare, which it's not. True, they are similar, but they are also very different, and unless you or your child suffer from them a lot of people think they are just one of those "made up" things.
Night terrors are very real and very scary.
I have never had night terrors, or at least not that I know of. However, Zach has suffered with them his whole life. The first night I found him screaming and crying in his sleep, he was only a few months old at the time, I was terrified. Nothing I did could make him stop. It wasn't just like a "I'm angry/hungry/sad" type sound, it was a pure "I'm terrified, make it stop" sound. And I couldn't make it stop. It was one of the scariest moments in my life and it just kept going for about 15 minutes.
Ever since that night Zach has had them repeatedly. Until he was about 18 months he had about 3-4 a week; then until he was about 2 1/2 years it was about once a week. Since then he has maybe 1 or 2 a month. That would seem like a good thing, but for the past almost 2 years (since he turned 4) he has started getting out of his bed, standing next to it, and alternating screaming "Stop," "Mommy/Daddy," and "No" between just screaming and crying. We're terrified he'll progress to walking and doing things during one also.
We were afraid Ryan might also suffer from them, but so far we haven't seen a sign of them.
Bella, however, has had two so far, both in the past month. She doesn't seem to be having them with the same frequency as Zach, but this isn't a set thing you can really map out a trajectory of. We just hope it won't be like with Zach.
Here is a surefire to tell a night terror from a night mare from KidsHealth.org:
"Kids don't respond to efforts to comfort or reassure them, and won't remember having a night terror."
This is the definition of a night terror from WebMD:
"Night terrors are characterized by frequent recurrent episodes of intense crying and fear during sleep, with difficulty arousing the child."
And lastly, again from WebMD, the most important fact I have seen in my research:
"Night terrors are frightening episodes that disrupt family life."
You might think its harsh of me to think that's the most important fact, but it is. When Zach has a night terror he wakes up everyone in the house. He frightens Ryan. I mean Ryan ends up just as upset and scared as his brother.
If you'd like to read more on night terrors here are a few sites that you might find helpful:
I hope you all understand that night terrors are a very real thing now. Zach's doctor diagnosed him with them, so if you feel you or your child might have them I would definitely recommend talking to your doctor about it.

1 comment:

Ramona said...

My eldest went through it, as well! Just like you, I noticed it the first time when he was only a few months old. Scared me to death! They continued, off and on for several years, but as far as I know he doesn't continue to have them. He's almost 13 now, and yes, like you described, they are completely different from a nightmare!