After reading some websites, we're concerned that our 17 month old daughter might have night terrors. She wakes up 2-3 times in the night.
What could be going on? What can we do?
Suddenly waking up hysterical or crying out in sleep can also be a sign of overtiredness. When a child becomes overtired it is more difficult for the child to sleep, but at the same time the child desperately needs and wants sleep. This leads to loud crying for up to several minutes in sleep or even wake-ups during which the child is very upset to be awake, but nothing else is wrong. The solution to this sort of crying is simply to adjust the daytime sleep schedule and ensure that it is age-appropriate.
Night Terrors tend to occur at predictable times during the night; Not that observing the child will tell if the night terror will occur, but rather that it forms a regular pattern. According to Wikipedia, the disorder will die off over time, and the issue will have been resolved. If it isn't, Wikipedia suggests psychotherapy or medication.
Night Terrors, distinct from Nightmares, occur at the Stage 3 - Stage 4 junction. According to AP Psychology classes, during Stage 4 sleep, it appears as if they are completely unresponsive to stimuli. Although these may be frightening for the parents, in the vast majority of cases there is no harm done to the child.
TLDR Record when the night terrors occur in relation to bedtime, then wake up the child up 15 minutes before anticipated occurrence. Source (WebMD) If the TLDR section doesn't solve the issue, you may want to contact a doctor for an examination, although damage is not likely.
WebMD Suggests removing items that may harm the child from the vicinity of the bed, as these are probably more likely to harm your child than the night terror itself.