SETI at Home

Night terrors

Our two year old Anya suffers from night terrors. I didn’t even know till recently that there was such a term. She gets up with a jerk in the night, often several times a night, and sometimes she cries out and sometimes she whines. First we thought that it may be because of teething but she sleeps soundly during her naps in the day. There were no known causes that I found for this on the net though its supposed to be a common problem with many toddlers.

Medically she seems ok. No sinus problems (unlike her old man), no difficulty in breathing or anything else we could get diagnosed. One of the solutions seems to be to pick her up when she cries out and rock her on my shoulders till she falls asleep again. That takes less than a minute but it does disturb her sleep. Often even just patting her and singing her favorite nursery rhyme for a minute does the trick. The thing is that she doesn’t really seem awake when she cries out since her eyes aren’t even open most of the time and the few times they are open, she does not acknowledge me.

It’s a first for either me or Swati. When Eva was smaller, we never went through this though she used to keep very odd and irregular sleeping hours. In contrast, Anya sleeps at her regular times but her sleep is usually very light and the slightest noise will wake her. And if she’s forced awake before her time, she’s really cranky till her next sleep time. The first half of the night, when I’m usually awake anyway, is the worst. That’s when most of her episodes take place. The second half is more quiet as far as her sleep is concerned. And she’s an early riser – quarter to six every morning like an alarm clock. That bugs Swati more than it does me since by then its her turn to take care of the baby, :).

Though there is plenty of literature available which claims that its nightmares, and her symptoms seem to fit the bill, I really doubt that a two year old can have nightmares. Her memory would be nearly empty at her age. I can’t figure out what she could possibly have nightmares about. She hardly sees any TV and none of her story books have any kind of horror stories or pictures. We have never seen her scared of anything around her and so far she has never been without a competent grown-up for even five minutes since she was born. She sleeps in our room.

Our cleaning woman claims that it is residual memories from her past life… wow! I didn’t see that one coming. I really don’t believe in reincarnation but I did try to find a bit more about it. And in the end, it doesn’t seem likely. For starters, the different literature available on the phenomenon clearly states that at her age, if there were any chances of residual memories, then the child would be talking in a language different than what she has been exposed to so far in life – say the language from her previous life. And if her mother tongue was the same in this life as in the last one, then at least she would be using words and phrases we have not taught her.

This isn’t the case here at all, Anya is otherwise perfectly normal. So I guess we just have to wait till she grows out of them. That is the only consistent advice from medically sound sources. And it can’t be soon enough. I really don’t want her going through what ever it is.

Comments

  1. Queenie says:

    As a person who has suffered Night Terrors all of her life, all I can say to you is they will become less frequent. But I am 30 and I still suffer Night Terrors. The difference is now I can remember bits and pieces of them to describe them. And that is only because the Night Terrors are always the same and they have happened so often. Either it’s a man standing in the corner of my room threatening to kill me or it’s a arm reaching up the side of my bed thrashing at me to grab me. And these 2 night terrors have happened since I can recall.

    They usually occur when I am at the very end of a run of sleepless nights. If I have dedicated myself to projects where I have to work late into the night and wake up early in the morning. So I see the light at the end of the tunnel and I let myself finally get some rest, and that’s when the shit hits the fan.

    The major thing I would watch out for is if it continues like it did for me, make sure that there is no glass or anything that could possibly harm her between her bed and her door. That is always where I find myself after a Night Terror (One time I locked myself out of my own house, and when I woke up I scrambled to find the hidden set of keys in the darkness).

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