Night Terrors

You’ve probably heard of them, though I’ve learned recently that “Night/Sleep Terrors” actually affect adolescents more, and are starkly different than what most of us (or maybe just most parents?) have come to call similar events we experience with some of our children.  In fact, if you’re curious, what some toddlers struggle with is actually called “Confusion Arousal” and has to do with their inability to transition smoothly from deep, REM sleep to lighter sleep as they cycle throughout the night.  There is a great description of it here, including the distinction between it and Night Terrors that I totally never knew.  You know, if you’re into that sort of medical nonfiction. 🙂

Anyway, this isn’t new to us (other than the name).  Avery has been having them for probably a year and a half, if not earlier.  I actually remember discussing them with her doctor at either her 9-month or 1-year appointment, though we weren’t sure if it was truly the correct “diagnosis” since she was quite young.  “If it continues throughout toddlerhood,” Dr. B. said, “then yeah, I’d say that’s what is going on”.

It continues.  And continues.

In case you didn’t read, let me fill you on the light version.   Avery starts moaning or whining in her sleep.  No big deal, it happens all night, most nights.  It escalates.  No big deal, happens all night, most nights.  The difference is, after a set amount of time when I go in to console her, moving her a bit and re-situating her doesn’t snap her out of it.  Instead, she loses her mind.  She’s asleep, but seemingly terror-stricken.  Horrendous screaming, body stiffening, etc – all while completely asleep and unaware of who I am or where she is.  If a parent tries to wake a child in this situation, it gets worse.  This continues for anywhere from 10-25 minutes, often longer for us because I HAVE to arouse her some to get her out of the room without one of us getting hurt, which inevitably makes things worse.  It’s awful as a parent (though, admittedly (and sadly) you kind of get used to it, and simply annoyed by it), but thankfully the child apparently isn’t affected, other than lack of good sleep.  They don’t even remember it the next morning.

In many kids, this happens when they’re sleep deprived – with illness, after/during vacation, etc.  With a smaller percentage, it happens with much more frequency.  Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot you can do about it but make sure they’re getting to bed early enough, napping the best they can, keeping a solid bedtime routine, etc.  Since those things have been done to the best of our ability since Elise and Avery were about 4 months old, we just ride it out.  Praying, all the while, that she really does grow out of it (or decrease frequency) at about 5 or 6 years old.  And then praying we’ll last 4 more years! 😉

So why am I posting about this just now?  I don’t know.  Perhaps because I feel completely out of control of my household.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s fine and clean/organized “enough”, we’re still spending plenty of quality time together, I’m still remembering to feed my children, etc.  But all the stuff I’m usually meticulously organized about, instead, I think my God-given wiring is a little frayed right now.

All that to say, I know I’m not blogging.  And wow, if you could see my to do list regarding said website, you’d know there’s a lot to share.  We’ve of course been reading our Christmas bedtime stories each night, learning carols, counting down to Jesus’ birthday, watching Christmas specials, etc.  We’ve been going to a few Christmas-themed events, making yummy goodies in the kitchen… all the “normal” things of the season, and I swear you’ll hear about them someday.

But for now, I don’t wake up all chipper and ready to go like I usually have a tendency toward.  I don’t get to bed nearly as early as I would like, because I am too behind on all the things of life – and there are an extra load of them right now with church obligations, birthdays, traveling plans, and snow days.

For my sake more than anything, we’re GOING to get back on our routine – and long before the New Year.  And when we do, perhaps I’ll get you up to speed on my sweet girls, too.  In the meantime, don’t forget about us!


  1. Hard to forget about you when I check your blog for updates every day! 😛

    My cousin Michelle had night terrors as well. 🙁

    Sarah and Lamia simply would “wake up” and see things. Pointing to them, talking to us as if they were awake, etc… We never could decide if they were asleep or if they were actually awake and could see things we couldn’t see! They were like 1-3 years old and by God it seemed exactly like they were awake! They grew out of that as well. 🙂 However, Sarah is still very sensitive to things. Check this out. A couple of years ago Sarah and I had almost the exact same dream on the same night- for no reason at all, seriously! There was nothing that had happened to make it seem likely whatsoever. We both dreamed that a feral cat that hung around our house had red eyes and was acting very menacing. It stopped there for me as I woke up scared feeling that the cat was possessed, but Sarah’s dream apparently went on and the cat was throwing knives at her! The next morning I was like, jeez I had the worst dream last night. I dreamed Cyclops… And Sarah freaked out saying how she had the same dream but it went on further! Why I’m telling you this now? I have no idea! ;D

    Anyhow, take it easy girl. You don’t HAVE to get everything done that is on your list. RELAX! 😀 Virtual hugs to you and much love. <3

  2. you know, kyle (and my brothers too) actually did this once in a while…although not as often or as dramatic as avery..i actually forgot about it. it would usually be when about an hour after he went to sleep after being overly tired. would get out of bed and was like he was possessed…wild eyed and did not recognize anyone…would walk around the house, crying..scared. would actually seem to get better and would go back to sleep if i could get him to go to the bathroom. no wild cats, though. thank goodness!!!

  3. So sorry your sweet girl has night terrors and so sorry for you, mama! Allie had them when she was little and there were just no words to describe how scary it was! I remember trying to explain it to my sister who was babysitting incase she had to deal with it in the future, and then that night (I was there too) Allie had one and my sister was terrified! She said she was glad that I told her about it, but that she was really glad I was there for her first exposure to it. I seriously thought Allie was possessed and had never heard of a night terror. I would even try to sing “Jesus loves me” to her trying to calm her down and she would just scream and cry harder. I would be in tears with her! She didn’t have them as frequently as you describe with Avery, but one day she just stopped and now she’s almost 11. Praying for you and your sweet girl that she will grow out of these QUICKLY! Hang in there!