The Terror Of Night Terrors & What To Do If They Strike


Alexander, 5, experienced two night terrors recently and I was left shaken-up by them truth be told. I stayed calm whilst they were happening but inside I was completely freaking out. Thank goodness for Twitter and FB and everyone’s reassuring words. As many of your kids seem to experience them too I thought I’d blog about it as a means to help others.

Xander’s seem to have coincided with flu and high temperatures and I myself suffer from nightmares when I’m under great stress.

Alexander would appear awake during the terrors, screaming and crying. I would hold and rock him and sometimes give him a spray of Rescue Remedy too to soothe him. Once it was over (the longest few minutes of my life), I’d distract him with a funny cartoon. He would have no recollection of the terror although I was affected for days.

My wonderful friend, the GP and author Juliet McGrattan offers insight into the night terrors,

‘Night terrors in children are common, they often run in families. I know how distressing they can be as my own son had them. When your child is scared or upset, your natural instinct is to do everything you can to help them. The hard thing about night terrors is that they make you feel helpless. Your child looks as if they are awake as their eyes are open but they may not recognise you or even be aware of your presence. They can lash out and shout, be disorientated and confused and your usual soothing tricks that you use when they are awake and upset don’t work. Just understanding this can help you cope. Don’t try to wake them up and if your physical touch is making things worse, then just move away. Keep them safe so they don’t hurt themselves and wait for the terror to pass. Reassuringly your child will have no memory of the terror.

If you find there’s a pattern to the terrors and they happen at a predictable time then you can try waking your child ten minutes before you anticipate it will happen. You need to do this for a few nights in a row to break the habit. Similarly, if you find that your child tends to have more than one in a night then after the initial terror has subsided, you can try waking your child fully before they go back to sleep.

Sometimes night terrors just happen but they may be more likely if something is stressing or worrying your child. If they are unwell, have a temperature or are just over-tired that can trigger them too. The most reassuring thing is to remember that it is no reflection on your parenting and that they will grow out of them’.

Reassuring advice for us all. Here’s to no more night terrors or at least remembering Juliet’s words if they strike.


Photo by Lionello DelPiccolo on Unsplash

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The Terror Of Night Terrors & What To Do If They Strike

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