Kids in the age bracket of 2 yrs to 10 years tend to have such episodes during sleep or nap time.
These are called sleep terrors and when at night, they are called Night Terrors. Usually they occur in earlier part of the sleep. Duration usually is 1-2 minutes but may continue for upto 15-20 minutes.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING A SLEEP/NIGHT TERROR
* Child may have increased heart rate, increased respiratory rate and excessive sweating during the episode
*A child having night terrors may scream and thrash around, and may not recognise you if you try to comfort them.
*Their eyes may be open, but they are not fully awake.
WHY DO THEY OCCUR?🤷
*Night terrors seem to happen more often when there is a stressful event such as toilet training, starting school, changing school, moving homes, arrival of new sibling at home, full bladder and often there may be no obvious stress in the child’s life.
* Environment at home…. Heated discussion (arguments) between parents, family members at home tends to cause such terrors as well. Environment at school similarly has a key role.
*Sometimes they occur on nights when a child is unwell.
*They seem to happen more often when a child is not getting enough sleep.
*Usually one of the parent also has such kind of history.
WHAT TO DO??🤷
-During the episode
*It’s best not to wake your child from a night terror since that may make him more agitated. He may be confused and take longer to settle. calm him down and just let him go back to sleep.
*A few kids tend to sleep walk during such episodes. Gently guide him back to bed if needed and if he is doing something unsafe, such as climbing onto furniture, you need to stop him, even if he fights you.
Stay with your child even if he doesn’t let you comfort him. Make sure he is safe.
*Usually talking gently and touching or cuddling the child may help him become calm, but if this causes him to be more distressed, just sit nearby.
*Don’t intervene or interact with them, unless they’re not safe. Night terrors can be frightening to witness, but they don’t harm your child.
-Before and After the episode
*In older children talking about it the next day may embarrass the child and make him get worried as well since they may not remember what happened. Make sure your child is not teased about it.
However a general chat to find out if anything is worrying him can be done to figure out the cause for triggering the episodes.
*If the night terror episodes are frequent and occur at a specific time every night, you may find that waking your child breaks the cycle of these terrors. In such cases waking the child 15 minutes before the anticipated time of the episode every night for 7 days tends to bring forth terror free nights.
*Make sure your child gets enough sleep, has a relaxing bedtime routine and goes to the toilet before bed.
Reading a book, telling stories usually helps
Consistent routine during the day and before bedtime often helps calm the children and ensure a proper sleep.
While these can frighten children and worry parents but children usually dont remember them when they wake up and most importantly they grow out of them in time.