"A night terror is a sleep disruption that seems similar to a nightmare, but with a far more dramatic presentation. Though night terrors can be alarming for parents who witness them, they're not usually cause for concern or a sign of a deeper medical issue."
Jesse has for the most part never been a great sleeper in fact he only started sleeping though at around 18 months and even then he has remained a very restless and light sleeper, but we co sleep and that makes it a lot easier because if he does wake or rouse from sleep he can feel or knows that we are there and he goes back to sleep easily.
However tonight was the 4th or so time we have had to go through an episode of night terrors as a parent this is a really awful thing to have to go through because as we have experienced in Jesse's case your child will scream out alarmingly and when you go to pick them up you can see that they are still very much sleep and nothing you do will wake or calm them, it is incredibly distressing and Jesse literally sobbed in his sleep and thrashed about in our arms for about 10 minutes only after just holding him tightly and closely for that time did he eventually settle and wake somewhat and then we had to lie with him while he fell back to sleep.
Night terrors are unlike nightmares with a nightmare the child will wake when soothed as well as nightmares generally occur during the early hours of the morning or after an extended period of sleep whilst a night terror will occur earlier in the evening and the child will remain in a deep sleep and will not be comforted by a parent when attended to or soother.
Experts believe that night terrors might be caused by the over-arousal of a child's immature central nervous system during sleep. Some kids may inherit a tendency for this over-arousal — about 80% who have night terrors have a family member who also had them or sleepwalking (a similar type of sleep disturbance).
I know I have never been a great sleeper and suffer with insomnia and often have extremely vivid dreams, however there are also some who believe that night terrors can be caused by over stimulation through tv viewing or even food or over tiredness, considering Jesse only watches maybe 45 minutes of tv a day and he doesn't sit still and watch for that full time and we make sure to keep him away from rich foods in the evenings, he also eats at least an hour before sleeping and he is not a big night time eater so I am not sure why it happens but considering it doesn't happen frequently only every now and then I am not overly concerned it is just a really unpleasant thing to go through and not being able to soothe your child is so incredibly heartbreaking.