Night terrors - time to seek help?

(3 Posts)
LittleLionMansMummy Tue 30-Aug-16 16:55:32

Ds is 6 in November. He's always had them but lately they've got really bad - every night and sometimes twice a night. I think they've been exacerbated by some late nights on holiday and over tiredness though over the last few weeks. He will literally sit there shaking and crying out for me or his dad, clearly not awake but 'seeing things' - sometimes for up to ten minutes. It's horrible to see and be unable to help. He normally eventually wakes up fully and settles back down again. By day he's an exceptionally confident and happy little boy, no obvious anxieties about anything, very open with us about his feelings and emotions (which we strongly encourage) and there are no obvious causes of stress that I can see. His dad, my dh, however, also suffers from them. Should I be asking for him to see a sleep consultant or something?

The latest phase seems to have coincided with some kind of separation anxiety (perhaps because we've been in a foreign country?) because one night while he was being looked after for a few hours by my sister and brother in law in France I returned home and he was crying and saying he wanted me and threw his arms around me like he thought he'd never see me again! He was fully awake and able to tell me he hadn't had a nightmare, he just woke up and wanted me. We'd only been gone a few hours and only leave him once in a blue moon, always with close family (grandparents or aunties). Apparently he'd been fine all evening, went to bed no trouble and only woke when he heard my voice, but he was properly distressed and relieved to see me. But this is practically unheard of - he's never had any kind of separation anxiety before and never when being cared for by close family.

I hate seeing him like it as he's normally such a laid back little boy.

Any ideas or experiences?

DoItTooJulia Tue 30-Aug-16 17:13:14

No experience as such, although my dbro has narcolepsy, so strange sleep stuff I know a tiny bit about.

I would make a diary note of everything. I would also film him during episodes. And I would take it all to the GP and talk to them about a referral to a sleep clinic or a sleep medicine department. The gp may feel it's not warranted, but at least you'll have discussed it and if it gets no better you can go back and say we're still having the same problems.

Sleep paralysis and hypnogagic hallucinations are a part of my dbros condition, but they exist on their own without narcolepsy too. You could google it, but that's not always a source of comfort in the absence of a proper diagnosis. In fact I have really dithered over posting this reply because I don't want to armchair diagnose or bandy things about.

Otherwise, has he got a night light or comforters of any kind? flowers for him and you.

ChunkyHare Tue 30-Aug-16 21:31:32

When Ds1 was younger we worked out roughly what time after going to sleep he would wake shouting in distress and we would actually partially wake him shortly beforehand to disturb his sleep pattern.

He still has them but they are much shorter, wakes for maybe 30 seconds and is quite shirty with you because it is like you have woken him rather than the other way round.

He doesn't have any recollection the next day, but he is now 13 and has had a sleep app on his phone that recorded him so he is completely aware of what he sounds like grin

It is horrific, but we found Ds is worse when he is tired and more likely to have more than one episode per night. Ds2 just sleeps through it, even when they are in the same bed (ie in a hotel on holiday)

I would keep a diary to see if there is any pattern to them, so the time you put him to bed and the times and duration of the episodes. You could try the sleep disruption technique. I am not sure what a GP would do for them. They are quite common. I had them until university!

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