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Could he be scared of the dark?

(11 Posts)
ElusiveMoose Wed 07-Oct-09 08:58:10

DS has just turned two and has always been a fantastic sleeper (well, for the last year, anyway). Over the last week or two he's been waking up repeatedly, crying and screaming; always in the early part of the night (between 8 and 11pm) and often 3 or 4 times a night. There's no build-up of the crying - he goes from asleep to hysterical almost instantly, and when I went in last night he was shaking and trembling. We're baffled as to what might be causing it. He's very articulate for a 2YO, but when I ask him what's wrong he can't say. He doesn't appear to be teething, and although he had a bad cold a couple of weeks ago, he's fine now. He's always had a dummy to sleep with, which we take out once he's fallen asleep, and normally if he does occasionally wake up, his dummy will instantly soothe him. But now he's waking up regardless of whether he's still got his dummy in, which is very unusual. Another thing that's odd is that when I first go in, he shouts 'no, no' if I try to pick him up out of bed, though when I persevere a couple of minutes later, he's really glad to have a cuddle.

I thought he might be having nightmares, but it seems too frequent for that. So, my only thought is that perhaps he could be scared of the dark. Is it too young for that, and if not, does what he's experiencing sound like what anyone else has experienced with their DC?

MmeGoblindt Wed 07-Oct-09 09:05:22

Sounds like nightterrors, my DS has them occasionally. He is not responsive to me for the first couple of minutes then gradually he calms down.

A nightlight (or light on in the hall) helps. He has almost grown out of them now.

Is he doing this every night?

3littlefrogs Wed 07-Oct-09 09:06:06

It sounds like night terrors, common at this age. The reason he shouts "No, No" is because he doesn't recognise you or know who you are because he isn't properly awake.

He could well be frightened of the dark - if he is waking with night terrors and can't see that will make the experience worse for him.

There is loads of info on the internet about night terrors - just google.

giveloveachance Wed 07-Oct-09 09:11:42

huge sympathies its awful isnt it? My dd is the same, I think some of it is that their imaginations are very active and they 'see' all sorts of things in the dark, and dream too. My dd was shouting at a whale to go away the other night, would not be stop until I also said go away whale and told her it was gone - had tried to tell her there wasn't one there, but she was convinced there was!. She will settle for me but is hysterical if her dad comes in.

Gateau Wed 07-Oct-09 09:28:06

Sympathies here too.
My DS (2.5) hasn't been a great sleeper over the past ten months or so, but recently when he wakes up - or even before he goes to bed - he's been talking about Spiderman being outside or monkeys in the trees. Something is firing that little imagination!
Different from your situation though, is that DS is usually fully awake when we go into him and is usally responsive to us. Last time it took about an hour to get him back to sleep. He was just chattering and wanting drinks - and talking about Spiderman being outside. In my DS's case, I think he is SCARED when on his own at nighttime, although I could be wrong.. As far as yours is concerned, have a closer look at night terrors.

ElusiveMoose Wed 07-Oct-09 13:12:41

Thanks so much for all your replies - it really helps to know that other people are going through the same thing. From what you've described, DS's experiences sort of fit with night terrors and sort of don't - he is unresponsive, but only for a few seconds rather than several minutes, and he's having a couple of these episodes almost every night, whereas most of the things I've now read on the internet suggest that night terrors are relatively infrequent. But I guess every child is different; perhaps he's had a few genuine night terrors, and these have made him more unsettled at night generally and scared of being on his own in the dark, so that he's also waking up crying at other times?? I think I'll try leaving the landing light on tonight and see if that makes a difference, and if it does I might invest in a night light.

MmeGoblindt Thu 08-Oct-09 07:11:20

How did he sleep last night?

ElusiveMoose Thu 08-Oct-09 08:08:33

That's very sweet of you to ask! He only woke once last night, around 10.30pm, and then it was more of a 'normal' waking up, I think perhaps related to the fact that he's still got a bit of a cough. I tried leaving a light on for him last night, but he demanded to have it dark. But then he was very upset when he woke up this morning, and immediately started howling, I think because it was still dark and he didn't really realise it was morning (normally when he wakes in the morning he sings and babbles to himself for a while). When I asked him why he was crying he said 'want light on'. Grrr. It seems he wants it dark while he's asleep but wants the light on the second he wakes up. But I've just remembered he's got some little star lights on his monitor, so I might see if he'll accept having those on tonight and see how we get on.

MmeGoblindt Thu 08-Oct-09 08:11:54

Poor wee soul, sounds like he is a bit confused. I wonder if it would help him to have a bedside lamp that he could put on himself.

We had wall lamps from Ikea (the moon and flower ones) with a really low wattage bulb in them. They were attached to the wall, and the cable was too with the switch just to the side of the bed.

ElusiveMoose Thu 08-Oct-09 08:19:26

I like the idea, but he's still in a cot at the moment, which might make it a bit tricky to operate, I guess. Definitely something to bear in mind for the future, though, thanks.

3littlefrogs Thu 08-Oct-09 08:47:19

Argos do a bedside lamp that works just by touching the base. Would that be an option? A "magic light"!

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