Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Night Terrors

Joseph has never slept well. We go through phases of sleep issues, from not being able to fall asleep to waking numerous times in the small hours of the morning demanding 'cuddles and more milk'. His sleep problems started with acute reflux where he would wake often to projectile vomit his last bottle all over everywhere. Once we had that under control we discovered that he appears to be really sensitive to changes in temperature, too hot or too cold would result him waking many times during the night. Numerous trips back and forth to the UK during his first year highlighted that he didn't much like a changed environment, so that would affect his sleep. Several attempts at controlled crying, usually after each trip back to England and we would get into a few weeks where he would sleep well but something would happen to break the cycle.

Then he started nursery, cue lots and lots of colds. Each cold came with broken sleep patterns and I kept falling into bad parenting traps, anything to get him back to sleep with the minimum of fuss so I could maybe get some much needed rest myself.

A rare moment of blissful sleep...

Finally, about a month ago I realised that we'd gone a few weeks whereby he had gone to bed easily and slept through the night without waking once. Hurray, we'd cracked it, he'd obviously grown out of his sleep issues and had developed a good sleeping pattern. Then the night terrors started.

They really don't call them night terrors for nothing. They are truly terrifying. The first one he had almost had me getting everyone dressed and driving to A&E. He was thrashing about and screaming, tugging at his clothes and stomach so much that I thought he had a burst appendix or something equally horrible. Thankfully after 20 minutes the screaming subsided, he allowed me to give him some Calpol and after a cuddle on the sofa for a while all was well with the world. He has since had another 6 of these episodes, the last one being last night. They always occur with 1-2 hours of him going to sleep. You cannot console him at all, he pushes you away if you try and you can't reason him out of his hysterical state. He clutches and grabs at his clothes as if to try and pull them off him and screams so loudly it sounds as if he is in agony. Bizarrely, we have managed to find a way to snap him out of it. Joseph likes to play a PS3 game with his Daddy called Little Big Planet, although he has christened it 'zebby and pinky' after the characters in it. Somehow, just the mention of this game seems to bring him back into consciousness, although it takes him a while to truly settle and become calm again, he seems happy to play the game for half an hour, then go back to bed where he'll fall straight asleep.

I'm now keeping a sleep diary to try and establish if there is any pattern to the night terrors. I've read that episodes are more likely to occur when they are overtired. Certainly last night he was messing around a lot and didn't actually fall asleep until after 10pm so I'm guessing that this is a trigger for him. Sadly it means that he'll have to be in bed before t'husband gets home from work but he obviously needs a really tight routine, waiting up for his Daddy means that he gets overexcited at the time that he should be winding down.

Thankfully, once the incident is over Joseph is fine and remembers nothing of it the next day, unlike me. I think it's probably more stressful and scary for me than for him.