Night Terrors & Meditation:
Night Terrors in children are noticeably different than a normal nightmare.
A typical nightmare may include a wet bed, a short fit of panic, refusing bed time, endless asking for water bits, and more often than not, results in your bed being overly crowded. Fortunately, as we grow older, we come to accept that sometimes nightmares just happen, and we are able to cope with them, because we are able to distinguish reality from our dreams. Nightmares, are also easily avoided by dietary changes, and taking extra time before bed to decompress.
Night Terrors, are distinctively unique from the common night mare. Night Terrors, present themselves far more dramatically, and though it may seem cause to panic, or consider a serious health issue, it rarely is. Night Terrors happen when the body transitions from deep non-REM sleep to lighter REM sleep where dreams typically occur. This transition is normally smooth. However, when it occurs too quickly, the child will have a fearful reaction, resulting in a racing heart, screaming, frantic body movements, and distress. Because the brain has not fully made the transition to REM sleep, it is likely the child will have no recollection of the Night Terror, and will fall back to sleep with ease. If this is the case, and the child is easily soothed after the event, it is best not to fully wake the child.
Many children who suffer from Night Terrors rarely recall the events the following morning, as the brain is still asleep when the Night Terror occurs. Unlike, night mares, that occur later in the night or early morning, and happened only during REM sleep.
Night terrors are caused by over-arousal of the central nervous system during sleep. This may happen because the CNS (which regulates sleep and waking brain activity) is still maturing. Some kids may inherit a tendency for this over-arousal — about 80% who have night terrors have a family member who also experienced them or sleepwalking.
Unfortunately, there is not a cure for night terrors, but there are several causing factors that could be connected with them.
A child who is overtired or ill, stressed, or fatigued.
A child that is taking a new medication.
And/or a child who is sleeping in a new environment or away from home.
A natural remedy that could possibly help your child gain a better night’s sleep is guided meditation or for younger children Story Meditation.
Story Meditation, is an imaginative and self-explorative meditation, and can be done easily.
After your child has completed their bedtime routine, and they have been relaxing in bed for a few moments, you may try a guided or story meditation.
-Tell your child to take a deep breath, in and out. In and out. You may also try taking deep breaths with them.
- After several deep breaths tell your child to close or “turn off” their eyes.
-Begin the story by explaining in detail a relaxing space while reminding your child to also take deep breaths and turning off body parts in soothing soft tones. You might also take this opportunity to expand your child’s vocabulary by using descriptive adjectives.
You are lying in warm summer grass, watching enormous, white feathery clouds dance across the blue summer sky. Take a deep breath in, turn off your toes, and breathe out. You can feel the warm grass tickling your body, you hear birds chirping. Take a deep breath in, turn off your legs, and breathe out. Your body is warm, and you feel happy, you feel safe, you feel loved. Take a deep breath in, and out. A cool breeze starts to sway the grass, back, and forth. Take a deep breath in, and turn off your tummy. Thunderous gray clouds begin to roll in, and sweep out the white feathery clouds. Take a deep breath in and out. You feel tiny rain drops trickle over your body, washing away the day, and giving the grass nutrients. The wind is blowing, the rain is falling, and you feel safe, you feel happy, you feel loved. The thunderous clouds begin to part, and the sun shines through, and warms your body. Take a deep breath in, turn off your arms, and breathe out. You have everything that you need. Your tummy is full, your body is strong, you have people who love you. The sun begins to shine, and dries the grass, and you can feel the earth beneath your body. Take a deep breath in, turn off your fingers, breath out. You have everything that you need. You are safe. You are loved. You are happy. Take a deep breathe in, turn off your head, breathe out. Your body needs rest. Take a deep breath in and out. Your body is ready for sleep.
-If your child is still awake, you can try massage, calming essential oils, or soft music.
Night terrors are most common in children, and they are often outgrown. Often times, we don’t recognize that children are able to feel stress, worry, anxiety, and can understand our emotions based on how we interact with them. Be mindful of yourself, and take the time to create a stress free night time routine to help your child have the best rest possible.