This is going to be a pictureless post.
It's also a post with no resolution.
But I feel like both of these things fit with our current situation. Dark, unresolved, and very unsatisfying.
Thatbaby hasn't been a phenomenal sleeper for a while now. I'm pretty sure I jinxed myself early on by saying out loud that he was a child who could sleep anywhere at anytime. And he did...for the first four months.
Nevertheless, we thought we had turned a corner earlier this year, when he was sleeping through the night more often. But what we're currently dealing with, goes beyond "bad sleep." I think. Maybe I'm being dramatic. It's easy to be dramatic when you've had interrupted sleep for a while. This started with Thatbaby's ear infection, and I'm not sure if that's the source, or a coincidence, but we're currently dealing with night terrors. Or confusional arousals. Or bad dreams. Or some weird combination of the three.
When it first started it occurred in the first half of the evening, before midnight, and involved him waking, hysterical, unable to be comforted, and awake for hours before he was finally able to settle down enough to fall asleep. Which sounds like a nightmare, except nightmares usually occur during the second half of the evening, during longer REM cycles.
I've been doing a lot of reading up on this subject, so let me share some of that with you. Your REM cycles, (or Rapid Eye Movement) is the light period of sleep wherein you dream. You cycle in and out of REM into deeper sleep. And the length of your REM sleep increases as the night goes on. So most nightmares occur later in the night, during these longer REM periods. Many young children have trouble going back to sleep after nightmares, because they associate sleep with this feeling of being scared.
Night terrors, occur in the first half of the night, and usually involve hysterical screaming, where the child is unable to be comforted, because they are not fully awake. They usually last a short time, and the child goes back to sleep easily after the occurrence. The child has no memory of the occurrence in the morning.
This past week, he's started sleep talking before his wakes, about 90 minutes after he falls asleep. Shouting out things like "No!" and then crying out for Thatboy or I. And then awake for hours before he is finally able to settle and go to sleep, either with me in the guest bed in his room, or our room. Which is more like confusional episodes/arousals, except for the inability to fall back to sleep.
Confusional arousals occur during the first half of the evening, during the transition between the deeper sleep and the REM sleep. It's a confusion in the body between sleep and wakefulness. Often the child murmurs, fidget, moans, or cries out during this period. They are not comforted by their parents and this state could last 1-45 minutes. After this time, they fall back to sleep easily.
So timing? Night Terror/Confusional Arousal
Behavior? Confusional Arousal/Nightmare
We've tried almost everything you have read or heard about in relation to this. We've tried not comforting him, we've tried comforting him. We've put him on a strict bedtime schedule. We've let him stay up later. We've spoken to his doctor who has no answers, other than to rock him and speak to him in gentle tones. We even tried Benadryl, which his doctor suggested because it has a side-effect of blocking REM sleep.
Like everything else, I know this is a phase, and one that won't last forever, so our current strategy is the one which involves him sleeping in bed with us, which allows us a good 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep.