You run in because your little one is screaming. You check to make sure there is nothing majorly wrong, only to see that it seems like they are still asleep. You try to soothe him, but he just screams louder. You pick her up, but then she starts flailing and trying to hit you.
This is the reality for so many people. I know it was our reality for nearly a year when our oldest was young. We were living in an apartment and attributed it to maybe the comings and goings of the downstairs neighbors.
This led us to investigate what may cause these terrible episodes. When you can find the cause and prevent these from the start, there is no longer a need to find how to deal with them. Here is what we have found.
While some night terrors can be caused by epileptic episodes, they can also be triggered by various nutritional imbalances as well as environment and lifestyle problems.
It is amazing what happens when our body doesn’t get what it needs. Cells do not work correctly, which means organs do not work correctly. It also means you do not have the building blocks for the various chemicals your body creates. This can account for many problems where there are chemical imbalances.
Magnesium is an incredibly important mineral to the human body. It is responsible for over 300 enzymatic reactions.1 This means that without it, there is a lot our body cannot do properly.
One of the things studies have shown is that a lack of magnesium in the body has a neurological impact, which can include night terrors.2 Giving a little extra magnesium is perfectly safe, and may be a good option to see if it helps. If you do supplement, be sure to go slow, as magnesium can also cause loose stools.
Like Magnesium, Vimatin B is extremely important to cellular function. Unfortunately, there are typically eight different B vitamins explored when discussing nutritional profiles. Normally when we think of B vitamins, we think of staying awake. However, they can also be imperative in sleep when taken earlier in the day.
Some research shows Vitamin B6, others show Vitmain B12, even folate have possible links to night terrors. Why? These vitamins peform a host of functions in the body, including:
- Helps break down carbohydrates and provide energy to the brain.
- Supporing the central nervous system.
- Proper haemoglobin to transport oxygen through the body.
- Supporting various organs including the thymus, lymph nodes, and spleen.3
- Keeping the blood and nerve cells healthy.
- Making DNA.
Many of these functions may have an impact on sleep. If the brain isn’t getting the right amount of energy, or the right amount of oxygen, then it will certainly affect sleep.
Zinc and vitamin B6 are important to the development of serotonin. Not only is this hormone important for mental health, but also to sleep. Here’s the connection.
Serotonin is the precursor to melatonin. That means that if you do not have enough, you will not be able to sleep the way you need to. So that means if your body is deficient in what it needs to create serotonin, it cannot make melatonin.
While you could consider a melatonin supplement to see if it helps, there are many other complications when you are dificent in one of these important areas. So I recommend trying to get to the root rather than simply attempting at a symptom.
In addition to the various nutrients you may be lacking, there are also several factors that may increase occurance of sleep terrors.
Stressors in Media
Stressors in Media
Media can have an incredible impact on the body. I’m not just talking television either. It can be television, YouTube, music, movies....so much could be considered media. So what does this do to sleep?
When you experience something that excites you (think about the last movie that kept you on the edge of your seat), your body produces the stress hormone cortisol.
When cortisol increases, it disrupts many bodily functions, including sleep. This is not limited to cortisol related to media.
However, how many of us let our kids watch something as they are winding down for the night? If it’s “exciting” it could very well disrupt sleep.
Wireless devices emit high-frequency radio waves. Energy waves are also known as radiation, though not the kind everyone thinks about. However, various waves can affect how the body works.
The brain works on energy waves as well. When scientists study brain activity, this is what they are measuring. It stands to reason then, that the energy waves created by electrical devices may affect how the waves in our brain work.
The research on the exact impact is lacking, with no conclusive results on what the waves do to our body. However, people have reported anecdotally about the effects of various wireless signals. In my own family we find that when we turn off the wifi before going to bed, we all tend to sleep better.
It doesn’t hurt to try, consider turning off your wifi, and see if it reduces episodes of night terrors.
Bedtime Screen Time
In addition to the challenges of wifi and possible stressors from media, the final nail in the coffin may be blue light emitted by electrical screens.
The reason why this is important when we consider sleep is because this particular light wave disrupts the body’s production of melatonin. This makes it harder to fall asleep, and research also shows that people experience less REM sleep.4
Consider reducing screen time by an hour or more before trying to sleep. If that is not an option, consider buying a high-quality pair of blue light glasses.
Answers Are In Reach
If you are willing to do a little work, you can certainly find the cause of the night terrors. Test and try, and experience quality sleep as a parent once again.
I’d love to hear about your experiences. Have you tried any of these? Were they a success for your child? Share your story in the comments below.