Having a 2.5 year old I have now been able to experience some of these sleep parasomnias first hand. Sadly they can be scary and not fun to see your child go through, but are thankfully temporary. The most important thing to do when your child has one of these episodes is to ensure safety! Let the arousal or night terror run it’s course.

Confusional Arousals
–  Non-REM sleep arousal disorders that occurs when a person wakes up in a confusional state. This usually occurs in younger children, as they sleep very deeply; due to mechanisms that trigger an arousal at the end of deep sleep cycle are not enough to break the grip of a sleep state. This can occur only with illness or fevers, or taking medicines that can affect sleep, however it can also occur on normal healthy kids.
– Mild symptoms can present with waking with brief body movements, sleep talking, sitting up in bed, moaning, mumbling, or moving restlessly.
– Intense symptoms can present with waking to screaming, thrashing, and the child can appear agitated, confused, and upset.

Sleep or Night Terrors
–  Intense event in NREM sleep where the child appears and acts extremely frightened.  These episodes usually present with the child screaming with the appearance of fear or panic in the middle of the night. They may even thrash or run around wildly in their room. They don’t recognize or acknowledge you if you try to go in and stop them. Goal again is to keep safe. Do not try to wake them up. Try to let the screaming subside and allow the child to go back to bed. Don’t bring it up the next day, as they usually have no recollection of the event.

Sarah Caudle, PA-C