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Hysterical tantrum night awakenings... Anyone else experienced this

(11 Posts)
justlookatthatbooty Mon 07-Sep-09 16:27:32

19 month old DS has started waking very suddenly (we co-sleep so we wake very if he does) with really hysterical tantrums in the middle of the night. We can't touch him, speak to him, offer him anything, without his full force raging becoming dangerous as he throws himself all over the place, literally thrashing about with all limbs. It was so extreme last night I was really frightened. Lasted more than 45 minutes at full force, we were up for a couple of hours. Can't figure out what is wrong or what he needs. It might be trigered by a bad dream but doesn't seem to be dream fright and lasts far too long to be a dream reaction outright. In the end, I had to carry him kicking and screaming and rigid to another room and we put some raisins on a little plate and eventually he took interest (after taking them and throwing them down again a few times) and ate a few and snapped out of it almost as fast as he snapped into it. It can't be pure hunger as he feeds well before bed etc. It seems and feels really psychological, a processing of sorts but I must say I'm really concerned as it's very frightening to witness. He's had a nasty fall a couple of weeks ago resulting in loss of consciousness but these episodes were happenning before that albeit less intensely and he has a five week old sibling which is a huge change for him but he has been nothing but utter sweetness with her and seemingly unperturbed. I realise however that on a different level he might be processing the change in family dynamics which is no small thing in his world.
Someone I know had a similar experience with her LO and went to psychologist but with her it was a peculiar sort of sleep hysteria, and I'm quite sure that our DS is very awake. Unless he was also in a sleep tantrum of some sort and only woke up with the raisins were in front of him? But there is nothing sleep like whatsoever about his very forceful thrashing and blood curdling screaming.... Just thinking out loud here.
Can anyone offer any insight? Rather freaked out about it....


JimmyMcNulty Mon 07-Sep-09 16:36:52

Night terrors? Have a google and see if you think it sounds like those.

Ds1 has them from time to time and they are awful, really awful. He doesn't recognise me or dh when we go to him, won't be held, won't stop screaming. Longest he's had is 20 mins though - 45 mins must have been horrid for you. If it is night terrors you are supposed to not do anything but just be close by to stop them hurting themselves.

Bearing in mind the recent fall and loss of consciousness however, if it were me I would probably mention it to a GP just in case.

snickersnack Mon 07-Sep-09 16:39:46

Yes, we have this sometimes. The only thing that calms ds down is In The Night Garden - thank heavens for Sky Plus. It's horrible, but hasn't happened for a couple of months now.

snickersnack Mon 07-Sep-09 16:41:18

I meant to add that in ds's case he's definitely awake, but in a world of his own. We ruled out night terrors though think it is triggered by nightmares.

countrybump Mon 07-Sep-09 17:01:10

I've had this a few times over the last six months or so with my DS, who has just turned 3. He wakes in the night and has an all-out tantrum, worse than any he has ever had during the day, and hits out and throws toys that are usually a comfort etc etc. It's really horrible to watch and sometimes lasts a long time, but then, as you said, he just snaps back out of it, and then generally just wants a drink and a cuddle, or a story and goes back off to sleep.

I've found no real cause of these episodes, they tend to come for two or three nights in a row and then not again for weeks or even months. I could link them to things changing in our routine - the last time they happened we were on holiday, and they have happened when we've been staying with grandparents, but I'm not sure that this is definitely the real reason for them, and they aren't just linked to some dream. My DS doesn't seem quite awake when they are happening, and certainly doesn't respond to me as he usually would, and then the snapping out of it is so sudden, and after this has happened he seems to respond to me normally again.

Sorry, not sure if this is helpful to you or not!

ilikesunshine Mon 07-Sep-09 17:30:37

Yes, DS1 had episodes exactly like this at around the same age. It probably happened about 6 or 7 times in total and was terribly frightening to witness. I couldn't really pinpoint any cause, and didn't find a way of getting him out of them other than letting them run their course (anything from 10 mins to up to an hour). Holding/ trying to restrain in any way seemed to make it worse. I think they stopped when he was about 2.5, but he has had a couple of incidences that were similiar when he was nearly 4. I'm not sure there's much you can do other than try to find what helps in your particular case - sometimes a change of scene helped my ds (ie taking him into a different room and turnign on the light). Good luck!

justlookatthatbooty Mon 07-Sep-09 17:43:24

oh Wow...your responses are so much of a comfort. Have googled Night Terrors and it seems that this is it. Just helps to know that it's fairly normal, though in no way easy to deal with. It must be such hell for them, if it's that bad to witness, what's it like to experience? The thought of it happening again tonight is putting me off going to bed, but I guess now I know that others experience this it'll be easier to stay calm and the change of scene thing seems like good advice. I've read it's recommended not to wake them, but surely it's better to snap them out of it? God knows how long it would go on for otherwise. Does anyone know what the contributing factors are? I wonder what developmental psychologists make of it? Food intolerances a factor? He had two big fat sugary cookies an hour before bedtime (stupid I know)as we had company round and he was having so much fun and I didn't feel like being boring/strict. Thinking out loud again. So relieved to read your posts, thankyou.

JimmyMcNulty Mon 07-Sep-09 17:57:31

With ds it's definitely more likely to happen if he's overtired.

Be comforted by the fact that with night terrors they have no memory of them afterwards.

I would personally recommend against trying to wake him - have done this with ds and it was very, very hard to get him out of it - have also read that it can prolong the episode as they just experience it as more disturbance.

katiek123 Mon 07-Sep-09 18:00:58

justlook - my daughter has these occasionally, has done for years, and i feel your pain!! try (this sounds VERY hmm but bear with me!!) over-the-counter homeopathic BELLADONNA in the 30c (or 6c) strength. abolishes my DD's within a minute - when previously it took anything up to 45 minutes. i have been really astonished by its effect - have tried other remedies and been much less impressed, so am not a massive homeo-fan in all circs, but this is definitely worth a go, given it's cheap and cheerful - and no harm done if doesn't work. it's a sugary tablet to be sucked, so kids normally take to it quite well, admittedly my daughter was 5 when they were at their worst so have never tried this on a 19mth old! good luck!

justlookatthatbooty Tue 08-Sep-09 06:18:55

Happened again but not til 6am and he is definately very awake, i..e non of this staring past me business. He doesn't appear to be afraid just very very angry. He responds to papa coming in and out of room etc so it doesn't appear to be night terrors at all, he thrashes about in anger and accepts then immediately rejects forcefully all that is offered to him. He is not in any way asleep. Now I'm double worried. Anyone?

countrybump Tue 08-Sep-09 09:52:51

With my DS he does seem to be awake, and recognises things and people, but at the same time he's not responding to things as he normally would. He'll also accept a beaker of milk or his favourite toy etc, but then throw them across the floor. He'll ask for Daddy, and then scream when he comes in the room etc. Then suddenly it all goes calm and he wants a cuddle, his drink and to go back to bed.

If you're really worried and this is happening every night, maybe it would be worth having a chat with your GP?

My DS has these episodes every now and again, sometimes for a few nights running, but then not again for weeks or even months. There doesn't seem to be any trigger for them though.

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