The terror of it all!

So, it’s been over a week now that we have been having these fun* night terrors. While they have been occurring on and off ever since Daisy was about 1, for some reason they are peaking at the moment and coming on more, and more often.

So what the hell am I whinging about? Let me give you a little background:

What is a night terror?

A night terror is when your child suddenly becomes very agitated while in a state of deep sleep. She may sit or stand up, shake, move about, and cry or scream loudly. Your child may look like she is in extreme panic. During a night terror, your child’s eyes may be open – but despite all the activity and movement, she is in fact still in a state of deep sleep. A child having a night terror is inconsolable and will not respond to attempts to soothe or comfort her. A night terror can last from a few minutes up to 40 minutes.

Night terrors are less common than nightmares – only around 1-6% of children will experience night terrors. Generally they are seen in children more than 18 months old and should disappear by six years of age. Night terrors can run in families, suggesting that there is a genetic component to whether children will experience them.

Night terrors seem scary to you but they don’t hurt or scare your child. Children do not remember the event in the morning, and are not conscious of having had a bad dream or a fright. If wakened during a night terror, they will typically be confused and disorientated.
You do not need to be concerned about night terrors. They do not mean there is anything wrong with your child. Night terrors are natural events associated with the normal development of sleep in children. They disappear as children develop more mature forms of deep sleep.
Night terrors are different from nightmares. Night terrors happen during the first few hours of sleep when your child is sleeping very deeply (nightmares tend to happen in the second half of the night during phases of REM sleep). Managing nightmares is quite different because children have woken and might remember and feel upset by the dream.


So while they apparently NOT a concern for her, and totally harmless they are freaking the fuck out of Rob and I (and now my mother who just called me in tears about another one she had this afternoon). This week they have had Rob, me and now Mum in tears – and we are pretty together people. We don’t get phased by much. Daisy is my Mum’s 6th grandchild and she had 4 kids herself and has never seen anything like them. They are AWFUL. They are exhausting for poor Daisy and they are slowly driving me insane.

I wrote in desperation to almost every mother/female/friend and family member that I know asking if anyone had any firsthand experience with them. If you were one of the women that took the time out to help me, or just offer your sympathy, thank you. It meant a lot to me. I am lucky to have such supportive, fab women just there ready to help me. I have spoken with doctors, read a gazillion things about them, spoke to Tresillian, emailed child psychologists and the common answer is that there really isn’t anything we can do. We just have to ride them out, manage them and her, look for triggers and try not to make her over tired. (I would try that if she wasn’t waking every fucking night having another terror that disrupts her sleep making her even more tired!!!!!). I had a great conversation this afternoon with a real person whose daughter did the same thing. I am going to try what she did and wake Daisy tonight just before they occur (say 2.5 hours into her sleep) and then let her go back to sleep. I am terrified of doing this because a) I am scared that if I wake her she will flip out on me and bring it on even if she wasn’t going to do it and b) who wakes a sleeping child? and c) because who wakes a sleeping child who is in desperate need for sleep? But I will do because I will try anything to help her. I have considered sleep clinics (yeah that will down well – what with being hooked up hundreds of electrodes strapped to her head…sure she will have no issues at all with sleep after that!)

I had some great advice from Kate who said that I need to try and be objective about it all. Try and remove the whole how is this making me feel and react that way to thinking how can I help her through this. This is difficult for me because it’s always about me (!) but mostly because it is SO awful and makes me feel the worst I can feel – helpless- but I will try, because I will try anything.

So this is where we are at. Pretty shitty, and yes I have come in here to complain about it and I wasn’t going to come in here until I had something nice to say, but nevertheless here I am. I am trying to process it all, work out solutions, get advice and just vent. I am exhausted. Mentally from the anxiety and stress of it. Physically from the lack of sleep and oh that’s right being 4 months pregnant and working 4 days a week. And mostly just over it. And looking for a break. For the poor little lady who needs to sleep.

Do you think I am being punished for losing my virginity at 16, or lying to my parents far too often as a teenager? Oh let me just add a side serve of catholic guilt into the mix!

Let there be sleep….but uninterrupted/poltergeist free sleep…

*not so much. Actually these are the worst things I have ever had to endure as a mother. Worse than labour, mastitis AND a breast abscess. They SUCK.


  1. I actually like the idea of waking her right before they occur-to reset her sleep cycle? Is that the theory?

    If she’s tired (since you woke her up) she should fall right back to sleep (she may not even fully wake up at all but it could break her out of whatever cycle she’s in?).

    DON’T beat yourself up. It’s a mother’s first instinct to “fix it” and it’s horrible and heartbreaking to see your child in terror even if she doesn’t know she’s in terror.

    I think I forgot to mention that my sister (with the son who has night terrors) ALSO had night terrors. My Mom said they were HORRENDOUS.

    Hang in, you’re a terrific Mom and Daisy will move through this eventually like everything else.

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