Waking nightmares???

nettasauraSeptember 23, 2006

Our four year old has re-entered a period of waking nightmares and we don't know what to do. He had a problem for almost 9 months about a year ago, but stopped and was sleeping through the night. Now he is back to having these waking nightmares. His crying is horrid, like he's absolutely terrified and sometimes it will take him a full five minutes to wake from the dream. Usually he is completely soaked in sweat. When we question him about what his dreams are about(immediately upon coming out of dream state) he either won't talk or says he doesn't know or remember. But I know he does because one night he was fully awake, but I could tell he was remembering because every few minutes he would start crying like he was scared again. We try to censor what he sees on TV because he seems to be very sensitive to visual imagery so I can't for the life of me figure out what is causing the nightmares. It's even more frustrating because he is actually old enough to talk and tell us what's going on this time. When it comes down to it he is afraid of everything and our two and a half year old is a daredevil like nothing else (yeah, that one broke his arm on Mother's Day, when he was 18 months and proceeded to come home from the ER, march up to the very same chair he fell off of and try to climb right back up on it, big clunky cast and all - we are in big trouble with this one!)

Anyway, does anyone have any suggestions on how to coax our son into telling us what his dreams are about?

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My 4 yo has had them on and on for the past couple of years. They are called 'night terrors'. THey seem to occur when we disrupt his schedule like when we went camping or something. We tried waking him up and that didn't help. In one night terror he seemed to be fighting with his older brother. I got in bed with him, snuggled, and told him big brother was being naughty. That seemed to calm him down. I've had a few other successes by just agreeing with him and telling he was a good boy even though I don't know what the particular night terror he was having was. My understanding is that the kids don't always remember what upset them. They may just remember that they are upset. My son never seems to remember that he woke the entire family when we ask what upset him the next day.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2006 at 7:56PM
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Good call Adellabedella. There's a lot of good information on the web about 'night terrors' now that you know what to Google.

My older son used to have them sometimes -- freaky, but not so bad once you understand what's going on.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2006 at 6:09PM
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I am so glad that I found this forum...we have just finished with another "night terror" as of a few minutes ago. I am glad I know what they are now. I guess now we have to identify what his possible triggers are. One good thing is that it has never taken us more than a few minutes to get him fully awake...I don't know if I could handle a thirty minute episode. We are going to try the "sleep disruption method" I found on a few websites by waking him up a little bit about thirty minutes after he's gone to sleep. He seems to have the majority of his "night terrors" about 45min to 1.5 hours after he goes to sleep. Wish us luck!

    Bookmark   September 25, 2006 at 12:01AM
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My daughter had night terrors, when she was about 7.

We found they would start fairly early on in her sleep, particularly if she was hot in bed.

She would start off slowly moaning, then work up to a crescendo of screaming, with contorted face. We didnt know what was going on and found it very upsetting, and didnt know what to do.

Just calm talking worked best, the terror had to work its course.

Although upsetting for the parent, the child does grow out of it, so keep that in mind.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2006 at 2:24AM
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