Why is 4yo waking up inconsolable

(20 Posts)
Hurryupbaby11 Sun 20-Sep-20 20:50:23

4 yo DS is going through a phase of waking up crying uncontrollably and unable to calm down. Thus happens after being asleep for an hour or so. Will eventually settle but then the same happens again a short while later and he's pretty unsettled all night.

He goes to bed fine and happy and has been a good sleeper until now.

When we ask what's wrong, he won't say anything or will say various things hurt (last night was cheek). He's recently started school.

Has anyone experienced this or have any thoughts on why this is happening/what we can do?

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arewethereyetmum78 Sun 20-Sep-20 20:53:05

Has he mentioned sore ears? My youngest dd used to do this when she had an ear infection. Thankfully she's grown out of them now but for about 18 months had quite a few.

Hurryupbaby11 Sun 20-Sep-20 20:59:17

I did question ears last night when he said his cheek hurt. We gave him some calpol just in case but he's not mentioned them again all day and seemed right as rain until an hour or so after he has fallen asleep again.

Could ears flare up at night whilst not causing any problems during the day?

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Aquamarine1029 Sun 20-Sep-20 21:00:55

Sounds like a night terror to me. Very common at his age and the phase usually doesn't last too long.

MJMG2015 Sun 20-Sep-20 21:01:31

Oh God we had a LONG period of this, it's just processing of a big life event and certainly starting school (especially after lockdown) would definitely count.

Finding ways to help them process things before bed can help a little bit, but not a huge amount. I think it's something they just need to work through.

I would suggest being reassuring, rather than asking questions is a better option and not saying 'Mummy's here' etc - rather help him learn to settle more independently. 'You're in bed at home, here's teddy, back to sleep now' things he can learn to resettle himself with (in the future). Learning to self settle us a life skill!

Good luck, it's no fun.

UnaMujer Sun 20-Sep-20 21:01:45


Sounds like a night terror to me. Very common at his age and the phase usually doesn't last too long.

I agree.

Hiremee Sun 20-Sep-20 21:02:15

Definitely a Night terror. My kids always got it an hour after falling asleep so we gently woke them up for ‘water’ after 45 mins. We did this religiously for a month or so and they stopped.


Scautish Sun 20-Sep-20 21:06:00

I agree re night terrors. Ask him if he remembers in the morning- if he doesn’t then night terror (if he does then nightmare)

We used to get our son our by playing a cartoon on the iPad (something he’d never seen before - I always used to put on secret squirrel as I loved it as a child). Don’t ask what they want to watch as they will just say no. We’d put it on, he’d protest a bit then gradually start watching, the. Laughing - the. Be totally normal but a bit confused as to why he was in our bed watching tv!

It’s horrible as they seem so upset but if it’s night terrors they don’t remember.

Hurryupbaby11 Sun 20-Sep-20 23:28:13

Night terrors could be it but not sure if hes a bit too aware of what's going on for that? DH tried to get him to watch something earlier when it happened and it didn't calm him which is unusual, although he did seem to be watching. He calmed down when I went up and did seem to be aware I was there. I counted down from 5 for him to try and stop crying and take deep breaths whilst giving a cuddle and that worked.

He was happy to go back to bed with a nightlight on which he doesn't normally use and hasn't stirred since. Definitely want to encourage self settling!

Another night it happened, he was saying things that made no sense which sounds more like night terrors? He said 'I don't want to use the hairdryer' - a few days later he referred to the handryer in his school toilets as a hairdryer and know he's scared of the noise it makes. So maybe it's all part of processing the changes with school as a pp mentions.

Good idea about stirring him before it happens - will see how he gets on tomorrow and then perhaps give that a go.

Thanks all!

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Aquamarine1029 Mon 21-Sep-20 01:43:16

Night terrors could be it but not sure if hes a bit too aware of what's going on for that? DH tried to get him to watch something earlier when it happened and it didn't calm him which is unusual, although he did seem to be watching.

With night terrors, you really shouldn't do anything too stimulating like putting on the telly or tablet. He might seem like he's awake, but he's really not. You need to keep him calm, speak softly, keep the lights low, and just let him naturally calm down. Anything stimulating can make the situation worse.

MrsMaglev Mon 21-Sep-20 01:54:57

Just to add if it's related to ears etc then lying down can exacerbate - I was told that lying down slightly increased pressure in the jaw so could make ears/teeth/jaw a bit sore etc (which is why teething is such a bastard for them at night time)

Good luck op it doesn't sound fun at all

blowyernose Mon 21-Sep-20 02:14:59

It does sound like a night terror and my 3 year old has them. She tends to have them when she's too hot and although she seems awAke, she is not. She does come to, but as her terror has begun says that she can't stop. I find talking to her or touching makes it far worse and instead I stay close, keep the room dim and quiet and make sure she doesn't hurt herself. This makes it pass faster but can last a good 20 minutes. When she comes to, she will come to me when she's ready. It's distressing I know, I just hope they grow out of it. She is a very deep sleeper and I think that's one of the causes.

Bunnymumy Mon 21-Sep-20 02:17:50

Nightmares. I still remember vivid dreams of bri g chased through a tunnel by monsters night after night back around that time. A night night light by his head that he can turn on himself might help.

Bunnymumy Mon 21-Sep-20 02:18:20

*night light by his bed

Hurryupbaby11 Mon 21-Sep-20 19:03:35

@Aquamarine1029 and @blowyernose - definitely taking on board what you've said about not interfering too much when it's happening, I have been asking what's wrong and trying to cuddle him but it doesn't seem to help so will try a different approach if it happens again tonight.

Interesting you mention about it happening when your DD was too hot - DS has been quite sweaty when he's woken up. We try to take his duvet off once he's asleep as he seems to get overly hot but he always seems to pull it back on again! And insists on sleeping with a teddy on top of his head... confused

We've got the nightlight on tonight so hopefully that might help too.

Fingers crossed for a more restful night!

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EarthSight Mon 21-Sep-20 20:33:06

It sounds like some kind of parasomnia which display in quite a few symptoms and can settle themselves over time. They may not manifest in classic night terror symptoms you see online.

I've actually suffered from something like this and it's horrible and enough to seriously panic an adult nevermind a child. I'll be asleep and then it's like something has jolted me back to life. When it was at its worst it was really powerful......like being brought being back to life via a CPR machine to the chest!! Sometimes I used to hear a loud noise, like cymbals or a clanging that would preclude this, and other times not. Could this be what he's hearing? It's called 'exploding head syndrome' - yes it's actually called that and it's a parasomnia. His could be a hairdryer sound!

A night light might not work. Even low light levels are enough to disturb a person's melatonin production. If you have to have one, make sure it's low on the ground and an orange light.

EarthSight Mon 21-Sep-20 20:33:56

Oh, and mine definitely happens more often when I'm too hot!

Iminaglasscaseofemotion Mon 21-Sep-20 20:35:51

Night terrors. My eldest used to get them all the time. Both my boys went through periods of waking up during the night and crying uncontrollably about their lags being sore. Apparently that can happen after they have had a cold.

madametomato Mon 21-Sep-20 20:42:44

Definitely night terrors / sleep walking related. DS used to screen the house down and talk all sorts of wierd stuff. Actually there not much you can do but hold them or stroke them until it subsides because they're really not awake. DP used to try and resin with him or offer a drink of water, but ultimately you just have to wait for it to subside. I'm sure it's starting school and all you can do is make sure he's as settled as possible in the rest of his day.

Hurryupbaby11 Tue 22-Sep-20 12:40:18

DS slept through last night with no upset. He has recently had a cold @Iminaglasscaseofemotion so that could explain it. Hopefully it was just a bad phase due to cold/school starting but I feel a bit more equipped to deal with it now if it does happen again.

Thanks for all of the advice!

OP’s posts: |

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