Night terrors. If you've never experienced them, you may think they are no big deal, similar to a bad dream. But if you are one of the many parents who have a toddler with night terrors, you understand why they are called "night terrors" because your child is out of their mind, inconsolable, and completely terrified.
Nobody really knows what causes night terrors. Typically, they happen around the same time every night, when the child is in a deep sleep. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics:
Night terrors occur most often in toddlers and preschoolers and take place during the deepest stages of sleep. Deepest sleep is usually early in the night, often before parents' bedtime. During a night terror, your child might:
*Sweat, shake, or breathe fast
*Have a terrified, confused, or glassy look
*Thrash around, scream, kick, or stare
*Not recognize you or realize you are there.
*Try to push you away, especially if you try to hold him.
The important thing to remember is that night terrors are temporary. Your child will go back to sleep and never know that the night terror happened. Still, it can be disturbing to see your child in so much distress.
My own sons had night terrors and they were awful. I remember thinking how out of control they were. Screaming, kicking and basically fighting like mad until they finally fell back to sleep. To say night terrors are dramatic is an understatement. So when I saw a product that claimed to help with night terrors, I was very curious. Since my boys are teenagers now, I decided to reach out to a mom of a toddler to give the Lully Sleep Guardian a try.
Emma is mom to Felix, who is 17 months and experiencing night terrors. Recently, Emma posted on a local mom's support forum:
"Any experience with toddler night terrors? I just spent 30 minutes trying to comfort an inconsolable, screeeeaming 17-month old to no avail. Things I've read said they will have a wild look in their eyes but his are shut tight and nothing we do calms him from his hysteria. Eventually he falls back asleep. This is the fourth time in 2 weeks that we've done this. Just another phase or something else??"
Emma was game to try out the Lully Sleep Guardian. When it came in the mail, we were surprised to see how simple it is. Basically, it is a small, flat, round vibrating device (called a pod) that you plug in and place under your child's mattress. Next, you download the Lully App from the App Store and plug your phone into the pod. You answer a few questions about your child and you are ready. The app will notify you when to deploy the vibrating pod. The vibration should not fully wake your child, merely disrupt his sleep cycle so that he can avoid night terrors.
Emma liked the simple directions and appealing illustrations. She also really liked the simplicity of the app. I downloaded it as well and it really is a no-brainer to use. Here are a few screenshots of the app:
Emma found the vibrating pod to be effective in rousing Felix without fully waking him. Once Felix moved, she was easily able to stop the vibration so he stayed asleep.
Emma did wonder about timing, as the app suggested that she rouse Felix 2.5 hours after he went to bed. Because Emma goes to bed early, she felt that she might already be sleeping at the time that the app's alarm went off. According to the Lully website, the product is built on the principal of scheduled awakening.
What's scheduled awakening? With the scheduled awakenings method, parents observe and record their child's natural waking times during the night for a week. A pattern of regular waking times should emerge. Then, following this schedule, parents wake the child 15 minutes before each of those natural awakening times and soothe the child back to sleep each time.
Night terrors happen during an unhealthy stage of deep sleep cycle. The scheduled awakenings method prevents your child from entering that unhealthy sleep stage...
There is an algorithm that is used to develop the scheduled awakening plan for your child according to the questions you answer. In Emma's case, the algorithm had her waking Felix a little later than she had planned. Emma decided to use the Lully before she went to bed and it did still work in preventing night terrors.
Emma and I were both under the impression that the app controlled the Lully pod remotely and the parent just set up the app and it did all the work. The reality is, even though the app prompts you to use the Lully at the appropriate time, you must be standing by the child's bed to deploy the vibrating pod. I found out that this was so the parent can monitor the child during the vibration to make sure he doesn't fully wake.
A few more things to know about the Lully:
*The recommended age is between 18 months and 12 years old.
*You should only use the Lully once each night (although you should keep records of all night terrors). This helps to train your child to manage his own sleep cycle.
*The Lully works with co-sleeping or different bed scenarios ( crib, mattress on the floor, etc)
*The Lully only works with iOS devices such the iPhone and iPad.
The Verdict: This can be an effective product for families struggling with night terrors. Not only is it simple and easy to use, it works (I was also very impressed with the content of the Lully Sleep Guardian website which provides a whole host of resources about night terrors). So if you are one of the many families dealing with night terrors, give the Lully a try. You may all sleep better.
Let Them Fly!