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Are these night terrors? DS (4) waking and totally inconsolable/irrational - HELP!

(13 Posts)
NotSoRampantRabbit Tue 20-Oct-09 14:38:10

Not sure what's going on with DS.

For the last week he has been waking between 10 and 11pm and losing it. He is awake but not himself. He is impossible to reason with and very difficult to comfort. It is really upsetting and has meant over an hour of screaming and crying before we can settle him.

Because he is crying so much he gets a snotty nose which he then wants us to blow but in a weirdly specific way: 2 pieces of toilet roll, not folded, placed gently over the nose, not too hard, not too soft, 2 blows then wipe. If we get this wrong he melts down again and so it goes on.

After sharing a bottle of wine on Friday eve DH and I found the nose thing hilarious. But it's not it's quite worrying.

Any ideas?


NotSoRampantRabbit Tue 20-Oct-09 14:40:01

Sorry forgot to add, I'm fairly certain I know WHY this is happening. He has just started school and has a new sister to contend with.

I'm just at a loss as to how to deal with it. Nothing seems to work.


PrettyCandles Tue 20-Oct-09 14:48:04

Apart from the nose-wiping, it does sound like night terrors. Have you tried not comforting him, just sitting by him and letting him blow himself out?

I know that seems unkind, but it really is better than trying to wake a sleeper undergoing a night terror. Take it from someone who had night terrors on and off well into adulthood, the sleeper is not suffering. In a true night terror the sleeper is entirely unaware of what they are doing, is not having a nightmare, and is not upset by it. What is upsetting is being woken by frantic - though well-meaning - people, and picking up on their distress.

He may (or may not) wake as the nt abates, so it would be nice for your ds to find you next to him. Especially if he needs his nose wiped.

Nts do tend to happen at times of stress, so this is 'perfect' timing.

Another thing you can do is to disturb him slightly when you think he is likely to start the nt. That will change his level of sleep, though he may stay asleep, and may prevent the nt happening.

Doyouthinktheysaurus Tue 20-Oct-09 14:52:19

Is he remembering it in the morning? I think if he has no memory so isn't aware of it happening it probably is night terrors.

DS1 went through similar after he was ill a year or so ago and the first couple of times really frightened me. He was awake and eyes open but just screaming anf flailing about, not responsive to us at all. One of us just sat with him until he calmed, then he would go back to sleep and know nothing of it in the morning.

I think after searching the internet we decided it probably was night terrors, he certainly wasn't aware of it happening so it didn't bother him at all although it was very upsetting to watch.

DS1 has only had one more epsiode since, hopefully your DS will settle down soon and they will get less frequent.

iheartdusty Tue 20-Oct-09 14:54:40

we had this with DD for a while, and the only thing that worked was to sit her on the loo - she would be screaming 'no' and fighting, but she weed every time, and calmed down straight away afterwards.

NotSoRampantRabbit Tue 20-Oct-09 15:03:57

Thanks for replies.

He does seem to be awake - if disorientated - which is why I am unsure if it is nt. And he does respond to us - just in a very screamy way.

He usually gets out of bed and is coming out of his room by the time we get to him. He will not let us take him straight back to bed so that we can sit with him.

Last night he came out saying he wanted to come downstairs and watch TV. I let him come down but kept TV off and he eventually allowed me to cuddle him to sleep. When I took him back up he woke and really freaked out with the nose thing.

It's hard to know if he remembers it in the morning.

I think we are probably trying too hard to get him to settle and perhaps we need to let it run its course. Difficult though since the whole street can hear him and I am feeding 4 month old every 3 hours at night. We all need sleep!

inthesticks Tue 20-Oct-09 15:18:05

My DS2 used to have night terrors until he was about 8 or 9. The key features seemed to be
Inconsolable screaming
A look of sheer terror
No response to any comforting.
Suddenly comes round and is perfectly normal.
Regular times for it ( about every 3 hours)
No memory whatsoever afterwards.

I researched it eventually and the best tactic was to gently disturb him just before his normal NT time as PrettyCandles said. Having said that I don't think yours sounds quite like my experience of night terrors.

Having a new baby sibling AND starting school must be very stressful for him. This is not for everyone but when we had a new baby DH slept with DS1 in the spare room for a while. They both got sleep while I did the night shift with the baby.

Gracie123 Tue 20-Oct-09 15:27:21

I still have night terrors (sucks for dh, but I dontknow itshappening) and so does my ds. We find setting an alarm to disturb me at a specific time is really helpful. Annoying to be woken, but better than dh sitting through up to 10 minsof me screaming the place down ;)
it is horrible to watch your ds go through this, but I can honestly assure you that he has no idea it's happening. Try reassuring him throughout the day, let him be really involved in the care of little sister. It will help ease them if they are stress related.

NotSoRampantRabbit Tue 20-Oct-09 15:33:36

inthesticks he has been sleeping with DH quite a bit since DD was born - neither of us have a problem with that given everything he's going through at the moment. We did offer him that last night but he couldn't get past the nose blowing ishoo.

Maybe we should just put him to bed in spare room for a while rather than putting him in his own room.

I also think I need to organise the evening routine so that I get to do his stories etc. The one night last week when he didn't wake I put him to bed. It's usually DH because I am feeding/settling DD.

I just want to be able to reassure him. And I don't want to get angry with him (which I have done after an hour of ranting and raving). Poor little chap is just overwhelmed at the moment.

PrettyCandles Tue 20-Oct-09 15:59:15

Sleep disturbances can sometimes be caused by over-tiredness. Have a chat with his teacher, explain what is happening at night, see whether she has any ideas. Is he any different at different times of the week? If he is getting too tired, maybe he could go home after lunch on, say, Thursdays and Fridays, and have a nap, or at least quiet time.

The school might not be particularly keen on this, but if he has just started this term then he will not be of statutory school-age until Jan 2010 at the earliest, so they cannot force him to stay at school.

NotSoRampantRabbit Tue 20-Oct-09 16:07:44

I did talk to his teacher last week PC. She was lovely and very understanding. School allowed summer borns to go fulltime a couple of weeks ago (he's June) anf everyone went for it. Their policy is that they either go until 1.30pm or full-time but the teacher said she would look at this since he might cope better if he has a couple of 1.3o finishes.

I dpn'y really want him leaving at 1.30 every day because he will be the only one in the class doing so.

Will see how he goes during half term and push for a more flexible week on his return.

He enjoys school but is not remotely interested in the formal lit/num stuff. Very caught up in best friend issues!

inthesticks Tue 20-Oct-09 18:32:21

Have you changed his bedtime since he started school?
We had major problems with DS1 when he started, screaming, crying and totally unreasonable. I eventually brought his bedtime forward from 7pm to 6pm and it did help.

mrshouse Tue 20-Oct-09 20:07:14

I could have written your post. Sounds absolutely identical to us (same age, new sibling although had them before as well). They stopped suddenly. We learnt absolutely not to settle, just sit by the bed and be there for when the calm down eventually came.

DD did seem to remember them vaguely in the morning but I still think they were night terrors as she absolutely wasn't with it or lucid during the episode. Trying to settle her just resulted in her screaming even more at anything we did. Left to her own devices she usually did a massive yawn and calmed down.

Much sympathy - they are very hard to deal with and much more so when you're dealing with a newborn too.

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