Dealing with Night Terrors

Aiden has suffered from night terrors since he was about 6 months old, which is apparently quite young for terrors to begin. He wakes with a night terror 1-3 times each week, and we’ve learned a lot about them since. Each night terror involves Aiden waking and screaming, often with him sitting but facing the wall or acting confused. If he talks, it’s usually gibberish or makes no sense. There’s a lot of calling for “Mommy,” even if I’m the one hold him. He seems to see you, and sometimes respond with a “No!”, but often is not really responding. He never remembers them. 

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We know that Aiden’s night terrors are often predictable, based on how he seems during the day. Night terrors, for him, are triggered by being overtired, which can come from a late night or a series of grumpy days where it’s apparent he’s feeling a sleep deficit, despite a 11.5-12 hour night on a regular basis. When he was younger, a longer awake period was also a trigger for him. He’s more likely to have a night terror if he’s dealing with anything on an emotional level. Now that he’s older, he’ll also have a night terror if he needs to pee. 

Aiden’s night terrors are always 1-1.5 hours from when he goes to sleep, but not at a consistent time. We don’t know how many are related to a full bladder, or how far back that goes, but that’s definitely been a pattern we’ve established lately. Aiden doesn’t hold his bladder for long periods of time, so his body is trying to get him out of a deep sleep to pee and it’s resulting in a night terror. Aiden feels everything very passionately, and there has been one night terror where he was lucid enough to tell me he felt “mad”, but for no reason, so it’s obviously his body’s way of releasing pent up emotions as well. 

To get Aiden back to sleep, we have to wait out the most irrational point of his night terrors. We quickly take him pee, since that solves his body’s issue as well as gets the screaming further from Damien. We didn’t used to do this, but have found it shortens the duration of the night terror. Offering water or asking a question that requires an answer (vs a yes/no), can sometimes shake him out of it. Waiting them out without engaging doesn’t shorten the terror, in our experience.