Mike and I both had sleep “issues” when we were growing up…and it appears we’ve passed this trait on to at least one of our children.
Mike sleepwalked when he was a kid. Sometimes he’d wake up in different places in the house (like the living room couch or the dining room floor) and have no idea how he got there. Other times he’d walk into his sister’s room or parents’ room and scare the bejesus out of everyone. His parents used to try waking him up, but that always ended with Mike completely freaking out, confused. Luckily, I’ve only seen Mike sleepwalk once in the twelve years we’ve been together, so I think he’s pretty much outgrown this.
I, on the other hand, started talking in my sleep when I was a child, and I haven’t stopped. Occasionally it’s random words, but most of the time it’s full-on conversations. When I was little, my parents would constantly go into my room in the middle of the night, convinced someone was in there with me. My friends LOVED sleepovers because they said I was hilarious. My college roommates delighted in having conversations with me when I was unconscious. Mike cannot stand it – he says it’s freaky because I always sound completely awake, but my eyes are closed. I have never once remembered a conversation I’ve had while sleeping. Kind of a rip off.
Annabel talks in her sleep. It makes sense – she’s exactly like me on the inside, and the girl loves talking more than life itself (when I asked her to stop talking while I was on the phone, she replied, “Mommy, I can’t stop talking, I have too much to say.”). She hasn’t graduated to full conversations yet and mostly just shouts out words and phrases. So far my favorite is, “GET OFF THE SWINGS!”
The shouting at night segues into her more recent nighttime activity: night terrors. At least, I think they’re night terrors…is screaming for thirty-plus minutes for no reason while thrashing about with your eyes closed night terrors? I feel so bad for Annie when she’s in the middle of one because there’s no getting to her. I’ve tried gently patting her cheeks and talking to her in a soothing voice, but nothing seems to calm her down. Unfortunately, she almost always wakes up James, so then Mike has to get up to help calm Annie while I get James back to sleep. The next morning, Annie remembers nothing but the rest of us are zombies. It’s no fun at all but I feel powerless to stop the terrors.
It remains to be seen if James will inherit any of our weird sleep quirks. I’m hoping he doesn’t get any of them, but if he has to get one I certainly know which one I hope he does not get. I can’t imagine two kids with this! I think Rigby would seriously move out.
Our 20 year old was a sleepwalker and he had those night terrors. There is nothing that we tried that would stop his screaming. Eventually, they just stopped. It’s scary because you want to comfort them, but it wasn’t a doable thing. That little guy was younger than Annie. He was around two. If Annie seems her normal self in the morning or overtired, just have her do a little quiet time. And don’t tell her why. I’m guessing it will scare her and that would keep her awake and afraid because she is old enough to ask the right questions.
Night terrors are scary! Any chance she’s taking allergy medicine (benedryl, zyrtec, claratin)? My son developed night terrors around Annabel’s same age and after making notes for a while, we were able to pinpoint it to his allergy medicine. We talked with his pediatrician who acknowledged that yes, that can be a side effect of these medicines and we’ve sense stayed away from them (he takes singulair which works differently than the others). He hasn’t had any more night terrors and we all sleep a bit better.
Amy W says:
We had a similar issue. My oldest would have night terrors, to the point where he would look wide awake but wasn’t. But we eliminated red dye from his diet and that helped a lot. He has grown out of the need to eliminate red dye in everything except medication.
Night terror are so scary on the loved ones around the person having them. The other thing that helped us get Ethan out of his was TV. I would put on a show he liked, for him it ended up being Mickey Mouse Club House. The music was able to get through to him in the night terror.
I hope these help.
Wow, I never heard that. Benedryl??? My kids did not experience it but I always find it interesting to hear stuff like this that I know I didn’t hear from the doctor.
We had the same thing, except my daughter’s reaction was to singulair. I think any of the allergy meds can have this side effect. Since we stopped the singular she hasn’t had one night terror.
Yup yup yup. Tried Benadryl one time for my son’s heavy-duty pollen allergy, he woke up screaming. Never again. He takes Claritin and it works fine.
My 4 year old little girl suffers night terrors aswell, and just like in your household I have a little boy too (he’s 1) and she ends up waking him up too.
We have seen a pattern of them happening when she is over tired and has had quite abit of sugar. So as much fun as kids birthday parties are, often that night she will have one So hard to deal with!
Em from Australia
My eldest (now 13) had night terrors at the same age as Annie.She would scream sitting up in bed with her eyes WIDE open and look at me like I was a monster. It amazed me how strong she was when she had these terrors.If I tried to comfort her she would kick me and run to hide in her cupboard.I could never get her to wake up.It was terrifying for me and (I’m ashamed to say) I would start freaking out and yell at her to calm down.Eventually I learned to let her “ride it out”. She never remembered anything in the morning and her pediatrician explained that when I was trying to wake her all she would think was that I was something attacking her.My middle daughter is a sleep walker (but does so rarely) .I wasnt thrilled the time I found her sitting in the driver seat of my car parked in the drive way in the middle of the night!Conversations with her while she’s sleepwalking are hilarious though.My youngest is now three and has had one night terror a few months ago.I’m hoping that it doesn’t happen again.My eldest grew out of it quite quickly.Good luck with Annie… I know how terrifying it is as a parent to witness your child going through it.
I never experienced night terrors. I hope she outgrows them quickly.
My husband talks in his sleep – full conversations, even laughing, but he doesn’t really open his mouth fully so it’s mumbly. I still strain to hear something juicy but so far, nada.
Our oldest has those – and has since she was supposed to be too young for them – they happen when she needs more sleep (ie when she began transitioning from 3 to 2 than to 1 nap or if she goes to bed an hour late). I don’t know if that is related to Annie’s night terrors, but if you could swing an earlier bedtime, it *might* help. Good luck. They suck.
Both of my girls had night terrors, and the name is 100% right, they are terrifying…for parents.
The good thing about is that the kids don’t remember and both of them just grew out of them one day. But sheesh..MY HEART. I hope Annie grows out of this stage quickly gaaaaaah.
My nephew was having sleep terrors and my sister thought he might be overtired. She started putting him to bed earlier and they went away. Won’t necessarily work for you, but you could try it! Good luck! I’m really glad my kids didn’t have them.
My son had night terrors when he was around 8 months old. His were all with his eyes open and that was creepy and terrifying in itself! He would scream, and I’d go to his crib and he would look at me like I was a stranger! I’d pick him up and try to comfort him and he’d push away at me, kicking and screaming harder! Our doctor said it was normal and to just make sure he didn’t hurt himself, because he was thrashing around, kicking and banging his head! They went away after about 2 months, but almost 15 years later, I still remember how awful they were!
Girl’s Gone Child Becca recently posted about her daughter having night terrors. The family changed the diet by eliminating sugar and food dyes. Now the terrors have stopped. Worth looking into. Good luck!
My daughter has the night terrors from time to time. I figured out that they seem to happen more often and are worse on days she has a lot of sugar. They are really scary and hard to watch. I hope Annie outgrows them really soon.
Try cold water on the bottoms of Annie’s feet to wake her from a night terror. Worked for us.
Missy K says:
My oldest (now 25) used to have night terrors. They were awful! He used to come flying out of the bed screaming like the devil himself was on his heels. We used to have to run to intercept him because he would head straight for the front door & out if we were a second too late. It was worse when we moved to a townhouse with stairs. I was terrified he would pitch headfirst down the stairs.
We were never able to figure out what was causing them. A friend gave us a suggestion…a dreamcatcher. We bought an inexpensive dreamcatcher from a local flea market & we told my son that it had special magic on it put there by a very special medicine man & as long as neither of them touched it (kept curious fingers OFF) that the magic would stay and keep the bad dreams from coming into the room. We hung it over the window. It may sound really silly, but it seemed to work for a really long time.
I had one child with night terrors. Not much helps, but we did feel like we were able to somewhat minimize them. We found that playing lullabies or preschool TV shows seemed to calm him a bit.
My six year old son has been having night terrors for a couple of years now. They’re so hard on the parents, but the kids truly don’t remember a thing, even often after they’ve come out of it and talked to you before falling back asleep. We haven’t found a magic cure, but find that they’re most likely when he’s overtired or stressed, regular bedtimes help a lot, as did naps when he still took them.
My nephew had nighter terrors and after doing some research, his mom began to look for patterns in them. When he would have them, they would normally come around the same time every night. Her doctor told her to wake her son about 30 minutes before they came on. Just wake him lightly, ask him to take a sip of water, and go back to sleep. Apparently this would reset the sleep pattern and eliminate the terrorist from happening. She had good luck with this! Best of luck!
I have heard that this is the best way to deal with pattern night terrors as well. Keep a diary, figure out the cycle, and wake them 15-30 minutes before they go into the night terror cycle with a drink of water, a check to see if they have to go potty, then rub their back as they go back to sleep. Usually breaks the pattern.
Also, this seems to be the age that night terrors strike. And Annie has such a vivid imagination, that I would imagine she would have vivid dreams as well!
Good luck to you all.
I have night terrors as an adult and my husband would tell you the best thing is to not try to intercept but get a light on and console but don’t try to tell them that what they are seeing or saying isn’t actually true. When I am having a night terror I am dreaming but my eyes are open so it blurs with the real things in the room. When the lights are on I begin to see what is really in the room. When my husband tries to tell me that what I am seeing or afraid of is not there it just makes me mad because I can see it.
Speaking of Rigby, how is the little guy. I haven’t seen any pictures of him lately. Hi Rigby!
She’s good! She was in one of James’ preschool pictures last week! http://thespohrsaremultiplying.com/wywap/while-you-were-at-preschool-50/
Well duh! I knew Rigby was a girl. Sorry Rigby!
My 5 year old used to get them. I also noticed a pattern with sleep and sugar as a correlation. But also, I noticed that he suffered from them if he was too hot. He still has them, but they transitioned to night laughing. He laughs hysterically for about 10 minutes, then goes back to sleep. I much prefer this…
I feel your angst. When my daughter was about the same age she would get night terrors. So hard to watch! What worked for us was to get her a cup of water and get her to take a few sips. I had to rub her back and talk to her calmly. She didn’t thrash around though so maybe this might not work for you guys. I’m not sure why the specific act of drinking water worked, but it did! Good luck!
My favorite thing my daughter has told me while sleeping us about an apple pizza she was going to make!!! She unfortunetly inherited my talking in sleep and sleep walking. She has had night terrors but has outgrown them, I found a wet cold washcloth presser against her face gently of course did work wonders and she would stop never really fully awaken but go right back to sleep. I did discover one thing about her sleepwalking and that is any heavy duty medication i.e. melatonin (my pediatrician suggested it because she inherited my insomnia) will make her sleepwalk, benadryl I still give in half does due to the same issue. I did discover that the few times I slept walked in the last ten years was also when I had taken heavy medication to sleep before bed. Annie will outgrow the night terrors eventually!! It is no fun but there is an end to them!! The sleep talking can be used to your advantage when she is a teenager….my mother used to have complete conversations with me and learned how to find out anything I had done or thought about doing while I was asleep!! Lol good luck!
Just an idea to try-we couldn’t “reach” my daughter during a night terror, but once I was in a hotel with her and I turned on the TV. One of her favorite movies was playing, and she “woke up” quietly and stopped crying when her brain recognized the music. Worth a try!
My oldest son had night terrors. It was horrible he would look wide awake and run around the house screaming no and stop. It broke my heart because there was really nothing we could do about it. Unfortunately they lasted about two years. The good part was he didn’t remember anything in the morning. I hope Annie grows out of it quickly.
I walked in my sleep AND talked when I was younger. Actually, I did up through college. My daughter had night terrors when was little and they were awful. I would hold her and rock her and even try putting her favorite video on (Blues Clues) and nothing seemed to help. I am glad she outgrew that but she does sleepwalk and talk in her sleep. Luckily, cept for a few nightmares here and there, my son didn’t inherit any of that.
Sarah Q says:
My daughter has night terrors. They get worse when she’s going through some type of developmental change or there’s increased stress in her environment. They suck, a lot.
My 8 yr old still has night terrors occasionally. What helps is I pick him up and rock him and sing to him. The singing gets through to him some how and I also sing songs that I sang to him as a baby (so maybe that helps). I slept walked as a child (used to carry things out of my room downstairs and then wonder the next morning where they were) and my mom (who was a nurse) said the worse thing you can do is wake a sleepwalker up. She would just turn me around and tell me to go back to my bed.
My daughter used to have night terrors. They suck. There really is nothing you can do. They say not to interact with them too much, cause that makes it worse. If it helps, my daughter quickly outgrew them (a couple of months). Good luck!
Barbara DeRousseau says:
Hi Heather –
So scary and exhausting! Do you know Becca Wolfe from Girl’s Gone Child? She is dealing with similar issues and has diminished the terrors with dietary changes…..not easy but might just be worth the try. Perhaps you could get some info by reaching out to her. These things are so hard on the whole family. Best of luck.
Sarah M. says:
Both our kids have gone through periods of night terrors. They are horrible, but with many kids you can spot a pattern. A lot of people have mentioned overtired as a cause and we have seen this with our kiddos too. The telltale sign for us is when we know they are overtired and then they fight going to sleep. Being too hot or cold is another one here. There are lots of theories as to what might cause them from food to food dyes to medication. Both my kiddos are on singulair for asthma and it is known to produce horrendous night terrors and hallucinations, but we’ve seen no change since adding it other than for the reason it was prescribed. Melatonin can be a trigger for some kids too that many people don’t know about.
We went through a sleep study with our 6 year old daughter before having her tonsils and adenoids out and she had one there. They said the best thing is to actually leave them alone. They are caught in a weird place between being asleep and awake and that interacting just prolongs it and often makes things in the dream seem real because now there are voices, light, and touch. We make sure they are safe, but rarely touch or talk to them (although if we think they are hot or cold, we will attempt to fix that). We’ve seen the time drop from 30+ minutes to 5-10 most times it happens and they don’t escalate to full on screaming. The good news is most kids outgrow them by late elementary school.
I wish I had realized the Melatonin trigger before I tried it!!My poor daughter!! and me!! LOL !!
It’s so interesting to see all the tips here! My son has night terrors as well. We see them much more frequently when he is overtired and/or sick, we have yet to notice a relationship with diet. We actually find that the key is to wake him completely. We take him out of his bed and bring him back to a full wake, and then put him back to sleep. If we don’t do this, we’ll sometimes find that he’ll ‘wake’ every 45 minutes and have another terror. My husband still has them occasionally too (fun for me!), and this is what I do with him. Good luck finding an approach that works for you!
My brother had them when he was little. My parents figured out it was wheat. I don’t remember when they stopped. But they eventually did.
Sounds like night terrors. Our younger son (now 5) has had them off and on. It’s been a while since he has had one, but he had them for a good stretch around 10 months-1 year, and again around 3-4. It’s so hard to deal with because there’s no way to comfort them, but I too, found that the best way is to just let them be. My husband and I had both tried singing, soothing, rubbing his back, etc. but to no avail. I hope Annie gets through these quickly and you guys can get some solid sleep soon!
I am so sorry! That’s so scary!
For our (many) sleep issues, we have found lots of help from the Isis child sleep team in Boston. Now they have their own website, and here is something from them on night terrors:
They say that night terrors are most often caused by a child not getting enough sleep. They suggest trying to have the child sleep more (earlier bedtime, especially if Annie doesn’t nap) and writing down how many hours of day and night sleep the child is getting. That can help you track what’s going on and see if there is a connection.
They also say there’s just not much you can do when she’s having the night terror. So sorry!
My nephew Ty had night terrors from 8 months to 2 years old. My mum and sister always just picked him up, snuggled him and rubbed his back and it seemed to help stop the screaming and crying without actually waking him fully. Hope it helps!
Poor darlings–all of you! May these end quickly!!!!!
Would it be too weird to have Mike record you? I would need to hear myself to squelch my curiosity if it were me! I apparently get up and press snooze for my husband quite often. Not really the same thing as you all but it is strange to be told you’ve done something you don’t remember!
My girl had night terrors – nothing recently but she is a loud dreamer! With the terrors the first time I tried to hold her and comfort her and got a thunk on the nose. After that and done googling I would turn on the lamp, sit across the room, and just shhh her or quietly sing a song. Awful things!
My son had night terrors for a couple of years. It definately freaked me out when he would call out for me (never Dad!!), but then would not really recognize me. He wouldn’t scream but would clap his hands over his ears and look absolutely terrified and mumble to himself. Sometimes he would remember these events the next day and we would talk about it. He said he would hear bad noises that scared him and that he could see me but felt like he couldn’t reach me. Then he started sleep walking, which would scare me to death when I would look up and he was suddenly there. I realized he often had to go to the bathroom at those times, and was able to gently walk him over and monitor what he was doing so he was safe and didn’t make a mess (since he was really still asleep). Too hot, having to pee, and stressful times were often his triggers. The most interesting thing was when I figured out that he was going to finally sleep after an episode when he would yawn very huge and loud. Then I knew I could go back to sleep.
No night terrors around here, but I used to talk in my sleep and sleepwalk. I hope Annie outgrows the terrors. How frightening! What I really want to say, though, is if Rigby needs to leave, please send her to me.
Night terrors are defiantly scary for parents. Our son started having them when he was around 4 years old. He is 10 now and they happen a lot less. We found, as others have mentioned, that being over tired was a trigger, if he was sick (especially with a fever), and getting too hot. They usually happened about 1.5 hours after he fell asleep. In the beginning he would get so worked up that he would often vomit. So we quickly would get him to the bathroom. Doing so we also noticed that having him go potty would wake him. Hope they don’t progress but know they are normal.
My oldest daughter had night terrors from age four to about seven. She would have eyes wide open, running from room to room, begging me to help her and save her. They lasted from 10 to 60 minutes. I came to realize that if she was too warm that might trigger it. Cool wash cloth on her head, face and hands helped. Also, keeping the ceiling fan on high. Hopefully Annie will outgrow it soon. I feel your pain over the sleep loss. My daughter would wake up all 3 younger siblings. And I still had to go to work in the mornings.
My daughter got night terrors with fevers. SOmeone suggested that I rouse her after an hour or so of sleep, as she transitions from one sleep cycle to another, have her go to the bathroom, and then take her back to bed. This worked! The night terrors were awful, I almost called 911 at first thinking she was having seizures. The bathroom thing really helped.
I can have (seemingly) completely coherent conversations while asleep. This has caused no end of trouble, since I apparently promise to do things which I then don’t do . . . but having an iPhone actually cut down on my answering-the-phone-while-asleep events, since it’s more difficult to manipulate a touch screen. I only sleepwalk when I’m sleeping alone, so I’m fine with Rosalind curled up next to me in bed (and she’ll wake me up if I worry her, she’s a very attentive dog).
In high school, my mom figured out that I couldn’t unlock doors while sleepwalking, so that meant I couldn’t go outside. I did end up sleeping on her bed much of the time, since I’d just go wake her up anyway.
I think night terrors might be an age-appropriate thing at Annie’s age (and hopefully just another passing phase!). We’ve been through them with both of our girls! So here’s to hoping this isn’t an ongoing sleep problem, just a part of her growing.
I talk in my sleep, but only in the light phases. If you do it a lot, your problem might be you’re not getting enough deep sleep. It won’t kill you, but it will affectionately call your quality of life in the long run.
Have you ever considered doing a sleep clinic? They’d hook you up to sensors and monitor your sleep overnight to pinpoint if there are any physical issues preventing you from getting restful sleep.
One of my favorite professors did this, and found out he had lived with sleep apnea most of his life, which is why he would be chronically tired no matter how long he slept. Afterward, with the aid of an oxigen mask, he was able to finally sleep “normally” for the first time in decades!
That should be “definitely” not “affectionately”.
My daughter had night terrors…sometimes she still does (she’ll be 4 in about a month). Our pediatrician suggested waking her just before it’d been two hours since she fell asleep to “reset” her sleep cycle and bypass the terrors. It worked pretty well. We would just wake her enough to have a little drink of water and she’d lay back down and sleep peacefully. In our case, she’d go to bed at 8, we’d wake her around 9:45.
Good luck…I hope it’s a short lived phase!
I had night terrors for awhile as a kid and they totally freaked my parents out. Sophie had some for awhile as a toddler-once on a PLANE, which was officially the worst, as everyone else thought I couldn’t control my kid and I knew that nothing would help the situation as she was totally asleep and unresponsive to anything I could say or do.
From what I’ve read about night terrors, they tend to happen when a kid is overtired (as Sophie was on the plane after a weekend trip where she didn’t get much nap time in), and sometimes changes in routine can cause them to occur. Might try putting Annie to bed 30 minutes earlier or having her have quiet time if she doesn’t nap any more? I don’t know. My poor parents were screwed because I never napped and wasn’t a great sleeper, so I had the night terrors for a long period of time. I got luckier with Sophie who just had them for a short while, as she was normally a good napper/sleeper.
They are awful because you feel so helpless though-good luck!
Lisa N says:
A close friend of ours son used to have night terrors. He has outgrown them now. They found that by turning on a favorite TV show would wake him non-traumatically. Later they figured out that if they read a book that had a catchy, rhyming pattern (for them it was “Hic-appotamus”) that would work too and make it easier to get him back in bed after he woke up (he wanted to keep watching TV, so even though he wasn’t screaming any more, there was a new problem to deal with). Anyway, after a while he would wake up calmly a page or two into the book. Good luck!
I haven’t read your other comments – apologies if this is a duplicate suggestion. My son had night terrors….ugh….totally feel your pain. My pediatrician asked if they occurred at the same time every night. They generally did. He suggested I wake him up around that time, have him walk to the bathroom and pee, and go back to bed. Once I got the timing down – i.e. before he started screaming his head off – the “cycle” was broken in about 2 weeks. He never had them again. Fairly easy, non-medication, fix. Hope it works out soon!
If the night terrors occur at the same time every night, you have to wake her up like 15 minutes before they happen, like fully rouse her enough so that she’s not in that part of the sleep cycle, then let her go back to sleep. It should break the cycle.