Night Terrors

When I read “The Horror of Night Terrors”, it brought back the distant memory of my own experience with them and how impossible they are for a new parent to cope with. You will never again experience anything comparable to the fight flight response the screams of your child will place inside of you. It will let you understand the real sound of fear and pain, as the only noise your child will ever make again that comes close, is if they break a bone.

My oldest son used to get night terrors. They started out when he was an older toddler and continued until he was about 7, after which he only had one more at about age 8 1/2. These were brutal episodes to endure as a parent. You are awakened from a dead sleep to a child screaming a primitive noise that enters through your spine and bowels. The panic fuels your adrenaline system and keeps it there for the duration of the child’s episode.

Even once you know what’s happening, even when you know your child is safe, the sounds of terror they are making triggers something deep inside of your brain and you simply can not believe what you physically see as an otherwise, peaceful room. Your brain is screaming at you that your child is dying by the most horrific experience imaginable. You can visualize them being torn limb from limb by thousands of demon teeth while you stand to side doing nothing.

There is nothing to compare the sound of a child screaming during a night terror. Nothing. It will make you cry and make it impossible for you to go back to sleep for hours. It will haunt you during the day in a way that will make any nightmare you have ever had seem like a Disney movie. The longer they continue in your child, the more you start to fear putting them to bed and going to sleep yourself, because you dread the possibility of hearing those sounds coming from your little one so much.

You can not comfort a child experiencing a night terror. You have to watch them endure what appears to be a demonic possession, alone. If you touch them or try to wake them they become combative and start to fight for their very lives; which makes the situation exponentially worse. The only thing you can do as parents is to comfort EACH OTHER in the hopes of calming down yourselves and enduring this brutal time during your child’s life.

This fear of your child’s night terrors, places you in the midst of a combat role and prolonged mental torture the likes of which is almost impossible to explain to a parent who has not experienced it personally. The most important factor to understand is that night terrors eventually start happening less and less and eventually go away, leaving you with another parental scar and the confidence that you survived another challenge you never thought to have when you decided on having a family.

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7 Responses to Night Terrors

  1. Ray says:

    My son had them too. Used to take about 2 hours to get him back to a sleep state. I think the only good thing that came out of the whole situation is that my son NEVER recalled any of them. My pediatrician said the only thing (as a parent) that I could do was to just make sure he didn’t hurt himself unintentionally.

    So many nights I would go in and just hold him and talk gently to him and rock him trying to get him to ”snap out of it.”

    Not easy.

    • rougedmount says:

      i remember…eyes wide open and clearly not awake. i was grateful he had no memory of it either.I was the one who suffered from him having You were lucky you could hold your son…mine was combative if you touched him or he touched anything …

  2. Reblogged this on and commented:
    A wonderful first-hand accounting of night terrors from a fellow blogger. Thanks, rougedmount.

  3. Thank you for making the post come alive. I hope all is well.

    • rougedmount says:

      life has been busy it seems. we have selective memory as parents. when i read your post, oh my goodness i remembered. they traumatize the adult seeing and hearing them as the child remembers nothing. it is the only saving grace when it happens to your child.

  4. Dawn D says:

    I had rad a wonderful book about sleep that explained the difference between night terrors and nightmares. My kids used to get them too, but because I knew what they were, I didn’t feel as hardly hit as you have. Or maybe my kids’ night terrors were not as bad.
    I remember, the hardest thing was to get my spouse to understand what they were. I don’t think he has to this day.
    And then, I would gently stroke their brow, singing their lullabies to them. Not hoping to get them to snap out of it, but because I realised I needed something to soothe myself, and singing was something that seemed to not be bothering them, even maybe subconsciously soothing them, and it sure soothed me!

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