Monday, June 05, 2017

Mommy Mondays: In the Night

This is going to be a pictureless post.

It's also a post with no resolution.

Very unsatisfying.

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.


  1. I have no answer to this my friend but I will share with you my own experience with my son who woke up from day one up to 10 times during the night crying and yelling. For two years I was going back and forth like a zombie from our bedroom to his. I was trying to follow whatever all these stupid psychologists and books ordered. How wrong of me. At that time coincidentally we moved to a bigger house with larger bedroom and my hubby suggested to place his bed next to ours so I could be right next to him without having him in between us. And I did one of the best things to listen to him and we did that. It is not that he didn't wake up but when he did my hand was right next to him holding his. Probably this made him feel secure and after some time the ten times became four or five. I kept him with me since the age of six. When we found a trick and moved him back to his room, he started waking up again but no more than two or three times for water or to pie. As far as I remember his sleep became normal at the age of 7 or 7 1/2. But if something is wrong with him even now that he is 14 his sleep is the first thing that is influenced. Hang in there!

  2. S was the best sleeper as an infant, sleeping through the night at 8 weeks. And then we stopped nursing at 15 mths. It was a fight to get her to bed, but she usually stayed down. Until she started waking up on a regular basis. Which is when we just started putting her in our bed so that 3 people could get a good night's rest. We even bought a full bed for her room to see if that helped, nope. I think the underlying issue was that she needed the security of not being along, she fell right back to sleep once in our bed. She's 3.5 now, and I feel like it's only been in the last few months, that she's finally spending more nights in her bed than ours. You do what you need to survive. Good luck.

  3. That's terrible - for all of you! I hope it passes soon. My baby sister (8 years younger) used to wake up just about every night and crawl into bed with me because the said there were spiders every where. It took a while, but eventually it passed. I like to tease her about it now. ;)

  4. I have no answers as I'm the mother of a terrible sleeper also. But I do sympathize! R sleeps in our bed. Obviously not IDEAL, but at least we get some sleep!