If you've ever woken up to the sound of screaming coming from the other bedroom, chances are you're all too familiar with night or sleep terrors. While many of us treat them as if they're paranormal, seeming odd and unfamiliar to our daily lives, night terrors are actually pretty common and affect almost 40 percent of children and a smaller percentage of adults. However, it's never fun to see your little one suffer through bouts of confusion, screaming and odd behavior in the middle of the night. To help you understand a little bit more about these daunting episodes, SHEEX is here to give you some insight on into what night terrors actually are, how to distinguish the signs of a night terror and what you can do as a parent to help your little one rest easier at night.
What Are Night terrors?
According to Medical News Today, "night terrors," or sleep terrors, are common terms for episodes that cause fear at night, especially in children." Differing from nightmares, an unpleasant dream that you can unfortunately remember, night terrors are present in the first few hours of sleep, sharing similar elements to REM sleep behavior disorder — a disorder that consists of unusual action during the rapid eye movement phase of sleep. In night terrors, sleepers — often children but sometimes adults — become stuck at the intersection of deep sleep and what should be their next, lighter stage of sleep. Unable to continue right along, they stall out and experience a period of partial arousal. Dr. Alan Greene explains that partial arousal states happen in three different ways: that being sleepwalking, confusion arousal and true sleep terrors. Confusional arousal is the most important as it is the proclaimed nature of night terrors. During the confusion arousal state, a person that is sleeping begins to act unusual and strange — and most of the time they don't remember any of it when they wake up or come to.
How To Know If Someone Is Having A Night Terror?
The signs of someone experiencing a night terror vary from person to person. You may see someone flailing their limbs, shouting at something, sweating, breathing fast and displaying confusion. Other times, a person could seem wide awake even though they're asleep. Seeming possessed or not recognizing who is in the room, are common symptoms of someone experiencing a night terror. No matter what the signs are, though, this behavior tends to last between 1 minute to half an hour. During this time, it's important not to wake a person that's deep in the throes of an episode — no matter how concerned you are, even if they're shouting your name. It can ultimately prolong the episode and cause stress on to whomever is experiencing it, as well as yourself. This can be pretty exhausting for someone who has night terrors at a frequent rate. According to Night Terrors Resource Center, these events can become chronic, occurring nightly. They can also be sporadic, occurring less frequently as the child ages.
So, What Is The Common Age For Night Terrors?
According to PsychCentral®, night terrors occur in children from the ages of 2 to 6 years old and are more common in females. Although most children outgrow them by the time they become teenagers, but that doesn't mean you can't get them at just about any age. The Night Terrors Resource Center says that "1.5 million children each year in the U.S. will develop night terrors." While you may see the number of night terrors decrease as you get older, you can still run the risk of experiencing them if you're an adult who sleeps on their back. In other words, children experience night terrors whereas adults just experience, well, daily terrors.
Who Are The Unsung Heroes Of The Night Terror Attack?
All jokes aside, while children experiencing night terrors is frightening for the child — parents also have to deal with the petrifying situation. Having to deal with a crying and screaming child may throw you back into the woes of those long nights as early parents, but dealing with night terrors presents more than just restlessness. Parent's often find themselves concerned with the wonder of these occurrences, while the children wake up with no recollection. While there is no cure for something that has no definitive explanation for their presence in your child's sleep habits, there are ways to hopefully help your kiddos (and you!) sleep easier at night.
How Can You Prevent Night Terrors?
To attempt to prevent night terrors is to understand what causes them in the first place. However, just as life's greatest challenges can be out of our control — so can the cause of night terrors. Especially when they are oftentimes hereditary. That's right, somewhere down the line your great, great grandparents had them and your parents could have had them and now your young one has them. Although, if it's not hereditary — it can be as a result of a case of exhaustion, stress, irregular sleep schedules or fever. To make sure you're acting to assist with these terrors, make sure you're helping your little one practice good sleep hygiene. The National Sleep Foundation suggests that you maintain a consistent sleep schedule as well as take part in calming nighttime activities including giving your child a bath or reading a book. It's important to remember that night terrors are not a mental illness, and what triggers them lies at what triggers most restless nights. Lack of sleep, irregular sleep schedules and even your family tree can contribute to this phenomenon. However, just as all things get better with time, night terrors tend to dwindle over the years. Until then, make sure you and your family are practicing good sleeping habits. And while our SHEEX may not cure terrors, it can provide some assistance in ensuring that you Sleep Cool. Sleep Dry. Sleep Comfortable.™