Night terror or sleep terror disorder is common especially in children. It is a very dramatic sequence that can disturb the peaceful sleep of not only the victim but also other members of the family. Almost 6% of children are subjects to night terrors and there is normally not need at all to view it as a complication. Usually this tendency ceases during the phase of adolescence.
We do not sleep as if traveling through a far stretching road. It has a specific pattern with two distinguished stages called the ‘Rapid eye movement stage’ and the ‘Non-rapid eye movement stage’. We often dream during the first stage and night terrors occur during the second stage. A night terror is by and large a frightening response to a disturbing phenomenon.
Symptoms of night terrors
In some cases, night terror might only bring a pause to sleeping, by causing an uncomfortable experience of a nightmare. But in some other cases, it could result in screaming, shouting and fearful gestures. This is likely to terrify the parents who witness the whole situation. When in a terror, the child might suddenly get up or shout loudly. They would sweat heavily and pulse rates would go high. There can also be an increase in the victim’s blood pressure.
Even with open eyes they may fail to recognize the family members or the place where they are. Attempts to console would not work for a few minutes since a sudden recovery from the fright is not likely. Once they overcome the situation they would feel better and even go back to sleep.
What causes night terrors?
Night terrors are very much related to stress and internal issues. In a child it can sprout from any of the reasons like the loss of a loved one, witnessing a road accident, a painful experience or humiliation, watching ghost movies or being in a threatening situation like falling into water.
Treating night terrors
Night terrors cause more distress to the parents than the victim. It is only a sleep disorder that can be successfully managed with patience. It’s natural for every child to have a nightmare once in a while and it gets eliminated when the child reaches his maturity. Managing the situation effectively is the best thing a parent can do. When you feel that the child is in a terror, don’t make a fuss about it. Don’t try to pull or push the child heavily. Let him wake up on his own. In the meanwhile make sure that he doesn’t hurt himself when he flings his limbs or falls down. In most cases, the child would be completely awake within minutes. To avoid the possibility of another terror, ensure that the child eats, enjoys and rests as required.
Though usually a night terror is not annoying, frequent occurrences may lead to physical and mental worries like frequent illness or withdrawal syndrome. Under such circumstances, you should seek medical assistance. An appropriate counseling or therapy would definitely work and medication is required only in the extreme conditions. All the more, be gentle and caring.