My head hit the pillow with a resounding “thud” after a long day of parenting and mothering four little beings. The house had been quiet for some time. You know, the kind of eerie silence that makes you miss the kids’ daytime noisiness. I was drifting off into a sweet dream when an all too familiar sound yanked me back to reality. Jonah, our toddler, didn’t just wake up, nor was he just stirring in his bed. He was full-on thrashing and screaming. The scream sent chills down my spine. It was the sound he reserved for extreme tragedies, like when I turn off Barney in the middle of an episode he has only watched 34 times. Jonah was having a night terror – again. I decided it was time to put an end to his nightmares and night terror.
Jonah has been having these episodes a few times a week, and it is starting to wear on me. We recently transitioned “the babies” (aka a toddler and a preschooler) out of our family bed into a room they share. Usually shortly after midnight, Jonah conveniently enough has a night terror episode – and thereafter he ends up in our bed (again again) because I don’t have the heart to leave him in the bed.Put an end to #Nightmares and #NightTerror. Help your #child sleep soundly tonight. #Parenting Click To Tweet
As with all my sleep-related parenting questions, I turned to my friend Melissa. Founder of The Cradle Coach. She wrote a great post on how to tell the difference between a nightmare and night terror, which answered a lot of my questions. However, I also wanted to know what I can proactively do to reduce the frequency of these nightly episodes. They scare the heck out of me, and I am SURE they can’t be fun for the baby (aka toddler).
I asked Melissa how I should handle “in the middle of the night wakings.” I wasn’t sure how to comfort him – AND continue to keep him in his bed. (Something I have clearly “failed” at up until now.)
Handle Night Wakings & Keep the Kids in Their Bed:
- If they have a bad dream, by all means go right to them and reassure them.
- If you need to stay in the room, grab a chair and sit in the chair.
- But if you are noticing that it has become “a habit”, and that the kids are trying to get you to stay, walk out after you have comforted them.
- Evaluate the situation and see how they can handle things from there.
Put an End to Nightmares and Night Terror:
- Limit television, iPads, video games, anything that can cause high stimulation during the day.
- Turn off the electronics at least an hour or two before bed.
- During the day, get the kids outside! Sun exposure gives the body the proper amount of Melatonin, which helps the body to fall asleep. Giving them some fresh air, keeping their bodies active, and a nice dose of sunlight will only help give them a goodnight’s rest.
- Limit their sugar intake. Sugar, food dyes, and other processed foods can play a huge role in how your children sleep at night.
- Get them to bed on the earlier side so they aren’t overtired. Staying up later can create your body to produce more Cortisol, also known as an adrenaline rush, making it harder for your child to settle to sleep.
Since speaking with Melissa from The Cradle Coach, I have made an effort to get the kids started on their bed time routine a little earlier and we are limiting their sugar and processed food intake, all with great success. Getting a good night’s sleep not only does wonders for the kids, but it sure revitalizes the parents.
What are your sleep-related concerns? (I will reach out to The Cradle Coach for assistance, if you share a question in the comments.)
Melissa from The Cradle Coach has shared her awesome wisdom with us before!