Friday, August 1, 2008

Fractured Sleep

By the time your child is 6 years old, you have come to expect to be able to sleep through the night for the most part. So when your night time slumber is interrupted it seems much harder to recover from then it did 6 years ago when you were getting up every 2 hours EVERY night.

Liam had 2 episodes last night that woke Hilary and I up.

The first happened at 12:39 (for some reason I always have to check the clock for the exact time when I get up). He was crying and calling out for me, and when I realized that he wasn’t stopping, I hauled myself out of bed to go and comfort him. Have you ever noticed that being woken up only a couple of hours into your sleep is so much harder then being woken up at say 4:00 AM? I stumbled, I bumped into the wall, my eyes wouldn’t focus, I fell like I was drunk, but I did eventually find my way to his bedside. I climbed in with him to cuddle up as is my normal habit for soothing nighttime fears. Except this time it wasn’t working.

Once my foggy brain started to wake up I realized that this wasn’t a nightmare but a night terror.


• Your child seems frightened, but cannot be awakened or consoled.
• Your child may sit up in bed, or walk around the room, screaming or talkings enselessly.
• Your child doesn't acknowledge you, his eyes may be open but he seems to stare right through you.
• Objects or persons in the room might be mistaken for dangers.
• Episodes usually last between 10 and 30 minutes.
• Usually occur in children 1 to 8 years old.
• Your child cannot remember the episode in the morning.
• Usually happens within 2 hours of falling asleep.
• Night terrors are harmless and each episode will end on its own.

Last night’s terror lasted nearly 20 minutes, with Liam alternating between sobbing and screaming, all the while thrashing about.

We went through a period of night terrors when Liam was younger, so I was familiar with the symptoms (and thus not freaking out that I couldn’t wake him up). It’s been about 2 years since his last one. The only cause we ever found was they tended to occur on days when he was up and active way past his bedtime. But even then it wasn’t always the case. However, since the summer started, Liam’s bedtime has gotten later (from 7:00 this spring to 9:00 for the summer) and he wasn’t up late last night (he was actually in bed by 8:30). Maybe this is just the accumulation of a sleep deficit rearing its head. Or more likely there is no cause at all.

And like all night terror episodes, it suddenly stopped. He went from screaming and thrashing to rolling over, sucking his thumb and being fully asleep. I waited a moment and made my way back to bed. Of course I can never just fall back to sleep so easily. Hilary had woken up when the screaming started, but once she knew that I was on it, she somehow managed to roll over and go back to sleep. She never even heard me come back to bed.

I did fall back to sleep, unfortunately not for very long.

At 3:18 I heard Liam call out. It sounded like he had to go pee. Our house is a storey and a half, so the upstairs is just 2 bedrooms separated by stairs. It makes for a long trek for night time bathroom needs, so one of us usually goes with Liam to make sure he doesn’t trip and fall and actually finds the toilet and uses it (as opposed to going the wrong way and mistaking the garbage can in the dining room for a toilet)

As I made it to the top of the stairs, so did he. But he was moving FAST. He flew past me into our room and I finally figured out what he was saying. “I don’t want to go to JAIL!” Okay then. I told him that he wasn’t going to jail, he was safe and should go back to sleep. He looked towards me, but mostly through me, mumbled something and bee-lined it back to his bed. By the time I got in there to check on him he was out cold!

I’m pretty sure the jail nightmare comes from having visited the police station this week with camp. For whatever reason, adults feel the need to tease young children with such gems as “better behave while you’re there or they might throw you in jail!” Nice. He says he had fun on the trip, but did not want anyone else to ask him if he had been in the jail, so I’m guessing it came up more then once. He did say that they didn’t get to see the jail on this trip because there were bad people in it and the police officer said that they couldn’t go there because the bad people might say bad words to them. Cause that’s not nightmare inducing for the 5-8 year old crowd.

He woke up this morning as chipper as can be, with no recollection of any of his night time escapades. If only I could be so blissfully unaware and refreshed!


The Szareks said...

Oh no! That sounds exhausting for both of you :-( How are you doing today?

Anonymous said...

What a long night...lately I have had Griffin coming in at about 3-4 AM...he sneaks in and snuggles right up to his dad!!! YEAH...

You might want to get a gate for those stairs for at night time..if he is going t be walking and talking like that it might just be safer..

Sleep well tonight Liam mommies need good sleep too...and Kick Hillary tonight if it happens again...

Aunt Becky said...

Alex has been having those lately. Makes you feel so terrible because you can't do anything to help 'em. Poor kidlets.