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sleepwalking and night terrors

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

dd#2 is 5 yo and for the past year she has been having sleep disturbances, particularly night terrors and sleepwalking that occurs simultaneously between 9-11pm at night 2-3 times a week. She's already an extremely sensitive child and even shows like Arthur (PBS) can scare or upset her. On the nights she doesn't sleep walk or have night terrors she will come into my room around 3am b/c of bad dreams (these she remembers). She says she's scared to go to bed at night b/c she's afraid of her bad dreams. She's told me at times her bad dreams and they're not your usual childhood nightmares. They would be enough to scare me. She has a pretty big imagination so I can imagine this could be the culprit. I.e. she made up a story that a man had sat on the couch and left a crease/imprint where he was sitting. And then left foot imprints where he walked away. It was much creepier how she explained it to me. 

 

I'm worried about keeping her safe while she's sleepwalking. Last night I caught her in the garage, in the past she's always gone to the living room, kitchen, or her sister's room. I also worry about her possibly falling down the stairs (we have a long straight flight of stairs that leads to the 2nd floor where the bedrooms are). If I were to put a baby gate in her bedroom doorway would she be able to climb over it in her sleep? Or do sleepwalkers just wonder/walk around in their sleep?

 

Just wondering if anybody else's gifted child has issues with sleep walking and/or night terrors. 

post #2 of 18

Being over tired always seemed to be a primary culprit in my ds's sleep disturbances...  He hasn't has a night terror in a good long while but he has started sleep walking more.  He still co sleeps and I wake up easily so he's never gone out of the room.  I've been a bit worried about his starting to sleep in his own room because of the sleep walking.  I think he'd really be freaked out if he woke up in some strange part of the house, like the basement or the garage.  I've thought of one of those door alarms on the bedroom door, something that just chimes, not a scary noise, but that wouldn't wake me up.  I'd need a remote device so I hear the chime in my room...  Maybe someone else will have a good idea...

post #3 of 18

My eldest had recurrent night terrors from about 18 months to age 5. The sleep walking developed around 11 and 12 but seems to have gone away. Her last walk was almost a year ago (she's 14 now.)

 

For DD, it was all about sleep. She's always needed a lot of sleep and even missing as little as 4 hours over 3 days would result in night terrors. This means she could skip nap Monday, wake up early on Teusday and inevitably, night terrors Wednesday and Thursday (even if she were getting full sleep those days.) We really paid attention to her sleep when she was little. We had a bell on her door when the sleep walking started. I'm a light sleeper and so would wake with the bell and could be aware that she was roaming the house. Sleep walkers are pretty much capable of anything asleep that they can do away. My DD has taken showers (and woken up with the water hits her.) She's come into our room and searched our drawers, she's gone up and down the stairs to do various tasks, put things in odd places, ect. I was a sleep walker as a kid too and I know I did a few things like fed the dog (can opener and all) sat in the bathroom sobbing because I was trying to put on my little brothers pants and they didn't fit. Hooks and eyes can be good placed up high on doors leading to the outside but I'd be hesistant to do anything that also makes your house into a fire trap.

 

Your situation sounds different. For starters, that's pretty early in the evening for night terrors. While it's common for those with night terrors to eventually develop into sleep walkers, the fact that she's doing both AND having recurrent night mares is different. I'd probably seek some outside help. Have you talked to her medical doctor?

post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by whatsnextmom View Post

 

Your situation sounds different. For starters, that's pretty early in the evening for night terrors. While it's common for those with night terrors to eventually develop into sleep walkers, the fact that she's doing both AND having recurrent night mares is different. I'd probably seek some outside help. Have you talked to her medical doctor?

 

 


The interesting part is she is always crying/upset when sleep walking. Sometimes it is just a little crying and other times I can see the terror on her face. Once she came out with a look of terror on her face and was looking at her feet saying she was hurt. And would cry and scream intermittently. But she never sleep walks without some degree of crying. I usually walk her back to her room and tell her that she is safe and mommy is with her. The next day she'll have no memory of any of it. And I know if she were really awake she would have a memory of it. I know this b/c sometimes I will go into her room and carry her to my bed to bring her to sleep with me and the next day she will tell me she remembers me taking her to my bed. Or on the rare occasion I've taken her to the toilet during the night she will tell me she remembers that. Or when she comes into my room around 3am b/c of a bad dream she'll remember coming into the room and she'll remember the bad dream. So it's only the crying/sleepwalking episodes that occur between 9pm-11pm (sometimes as late as midnight) that she will have no recollection of it happening.

 

I just asked her if she had a bad dream last night and that is why she came into my room later in the night after the whole sleepwalking incident (after 2am) and she said yes, she had a bad dream a monster was choking her. 

 

 

post #5 of 18

I feel very sorry for your child. Through my childhood and teenhood, I had bad dreams, and often woke up feeling as if I was being choked. It was a really bad feeling, and occasionally painful, and I would be gasping for breath when I awoke. Sometimes I felt as if I was being dragged off my bed, there was also a year when I would have very vivid dreams of being spun around in the air in my bed and I hear indistinct chattering in the background. It got to the point when I went from terrified to just being tired and resigned and told myself I would just wait it out and fall back to sleep. I could always remember everything the next day.  

 

Fast forward to adulthood, I don't get them anymore. But my two children do have vivid dreams when they cry,talk or hit out. For my elder one, I've noticed a connection between a physically exciting time at the playground and his violent dreams. When I cut down on playground time, his sleep improves. My younger one just seems to be very sensitive and is very afraid of the dark. I co-sleep with him for that reason.   

 

Last year I met a mum who had a child who used to sleepwalk chronically and also had eczema until he was about 5. She took him to a homeopath for his ezcema, and noticed that his sleepwalking receded with the eczema - she believed it's the overall balancing properties of homeopathy. When he was about 9, he began sleepwalking again and his eczema also began coming back. She took him back to the homeopath and again, both the sleepwalking and eczema receded. Just something else to consider if you are feeling desperate. I know I would have tried anything that would take away the bad dreams as a child. :)

post #6 of 18

This may be over simplifying it in your case, but for us it worked.

 

My DD 2.5 now has had a handful (5-10) of night terrors.  I came across a similar post in a different part if this forum and one Mom talked about how when she was doing research years ago she found a compilation of research that was done by parents themselves on what could possibly be causing night terrors.  One thing that was pointed out and that she passed on was that if the children were hot - particularly their feet, they had the night terrors.  I kid you not that this turned out to be EXACTLY the cause for my daughter.  Since an infant she has slept in just a diaper or panties and whenever she had a night terror it was because it was cold and I felt she need clothes on and someone had given us feety pajamas.  I ditched the feety pajamas after reading this and all was great.  One night she saw that I had socks on and decided she wanted to wear some too.  I forgot all about them when she went to bed and low and behold she had another terror that night.  Actually 2 before I remembered the socks and took them off!

 

I was so grateful for this information so while it may not help everyone I feel compelled to pass it on.

 

If this in itself does not help you maybe you could keep a diary of instances and what was eaten, worn, activities, temperature, etc etc and see if there is not a similar pattern for you child.

 

Reading some of this has made ME a lil scared to go to sleep at night, I feel just awful that kids are dealing with these thoughts when they should be resting!

post #7 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by deminc View Post

I feel very sorry for your child. Through my childhood and teenhood, I had bad dreams, and often woke up feeling as if I was being choked. It was a really bad feeling, and occasionally painful, and I would be gasping for breath when I awoke. Sometimes I felt as if I was being dragged off my bed, there was also a year when I would have very vivid dreams of being spun around in the air in my bed and I hear indistinct chattering in the background. It got to the point when I went from terrified to just being tired and resigned and told myself I would just wait it out and fall back to sleep. I could always remember everything the next day.  

 

Fast forward to adulthood, I don't get them anymore. But my two children do have vivid dreams when they cry,talk or hit out. For my elder one, I've noticed a connection between a physically exciting time at the playground and his violent dreams. When I cut down on playground time, his sleep improves. My younger one just seems to be very sensitive and is very afraid of the dark. I co-sleep with him for that reason.   

 

Last year I met a mum who had a child who used to sleepwalk chronically and also had eczema until he was about 5. She took him to a homeopath for his ezcema, and noticed that his sleepwalking receded with the eczema - she believed it's the overall balancing properties of homeopathy. When he was about 9, he began sleepwalking again and his eczema also began coming back. She took him back to the homeopath and again, both the sleepwalking and eczema receded. Just something else to consider if you are feeling desperate. I know I would have tried anything that would take away the bad dreams as a child. :)


So sorry you have had to go through this personally. Makes me sad to watch my dd be afraid to go to sleep at night and it is so scary when she's having a night terror b/c i can see the terror in her eyes and there is nothing i can do for her really. :( I will look into homeopathy options, never heard of that before for sleep disturbances.

 

As for activity I haven't really noticed any correlation between her activity level and her sleepwalking/terrors. My dog has that problem though! lol If I take her to a dog park or an exciting hike that night she'll dream and bark and run in her sleep. 

 

post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shanny2032 View Post

This may be over simplifying it in your case, but for us it worked.

 

My DD 2.5 now has had a handful (5-10) of night terrors.  I came across a similar post in a different part if this forum and one Mom talked about how when she was doing research years ago she found a compilation of research that was done by parents themselves on what could possibly be causing night terrors.  One thing that was pointed out and that she passed on was that if the children were hot - particularly their feet, they had the night terrors.  I kid you not that this turned out to be EXACTLY the cause for my daughter.  Since an infant she has slept in just a diaper or panties and whenever she had a night terror it was because it was cold and I felt she need clothes on and someone had given us feety pajamas.  I ditched the feety pajamas after reading this and all was great.  One night she saw that I had socks on and decided she wanted to wear some too.  I forgot all about them when she went to bed and low and behold she had another terror that night.  Actually 2 before I remembered the socks and took them off!

 

I was so grateful for this information so while it may not help everyone I feel compelled to pass it on.

 

If this in itself does not help you maybe you could keep a diary of instances and what was eaten, worn, activities, temperature, etc etc and see if there is not a similar pattern for you child.

 

Reading some of this has made ME a lil scared to go to sleep at night, I feel just awful that kids are dealing with these thoughts when they should be resting!


It's an interesting theory re: temperature, but due to her clothing sensitivity she prefers to sleep naked (underwear is on of course). So I don't think she's too overheated. I think I will start to keep a log though of her days/food/activity, just to see if there is something I'm missing.

 

 

post #9 of 18
Thread Starter 

ugh. just had to go upstairs and comfort her, she's crying b/c she's scared to go to sleep. :(  i feel so bad for my baby. 

post #10 of 18

You may also want to check if her room makes any funny noises or if lights come in at strange angles that can further spook an already frightened child. The light from my dad's fishtank used to filter into my dreams in a very twilight-ish way. My little one was spooked by moving lights on the ceiling which were reflected headlights of passing cars. If your child tend to get the episodes at a certain time, try staying with her in that room throughout that period to observe.

 

re: hot feet - this is very interesting though doesn't relate to nightmares in our case! I've noticed that whenever my younger one has hot feet, his eczema will flare up. I will cool his feet with cold towels and he will go back to sleep quite soundly.   On the other hand, my elder one  will wear socks to bed when it's 24 degrees celsius! For him, it's definitely activities and images from the media (like Mars Need Mom!).

post #11 of 18

Another simple thought which may or may not be helpful: is it often a "choking" dream? Has sleep apnea been ruled out?

Hugs! This sounds very very hard. I hope you hit on some solutions that work.

post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tigerle View Post

Another simple thought which may or may not be helpful: is it often a "choking" dream? Has sleep apnea been ruled out?

Hugs! This sounds very very hard. I hope you hit on some solutions that work.



that is a very good thought.... this is the first time she's mentioned to me that she had a dream of someone choking her. but she is a mouth breather when sleeping and drools a lot. 

post #13 of 18

I was definitely battling sleep paralysis at that age but was not able to communicate this to my parents or even fully understand what was going on until my early teens.  I slept in my parents room on the floor many nights until I figured it out.  There were so many factors that seemed to cause episodes.  I just came to the conclusion that I just had to deal.  SP actually does not bother me at all anymore.  In fact sometimes I can control it and allow myself to go in and out of it for fun.  Certainly understanding what is going on can give you a lot of power over it.

 

Unfortunately, when I was nineteen I started having hallucinations coming out and going into a particular sleep cycle which is called hypnagogia.  My DH is away and for the last 6 months I have been having about 3 episodes a night on average.  This is actually somewhat debilitating.  I cosleep and have grabbed my DD to protect her a number of times.  I even run out of the room which looks and feels a lot like sleepwalking. A hallucination can last many minutes.  But, I do think it is rare for a child to suffer from hypnagogia.  I only remember one episode I had when I was 10.

 

I think that my SP evolved into hypnogogia and that I am just predisposed to having a sleep disorder in some form.  I am also a crazy dreamer as far as quality and quantity.  I can lucid dream and can dream in the third person sometimes switching perspectives throughout the dream. I have even dreamed an entire original movie from introduction of characters to the happy ending.  I have an incredible visual memory and can remember in detail the layouts of many of my more elaborate dreams, some encompassing many city blocks in a made-up world.

 

This seems to be how sleep disorders work.  People who are susceptible to them struggle with them for life in one for or another.  They are also hereditary.  My father sleep walks like it is his job for one.  I would definitely look at triggers--stress, diet, room environment.  For me, SP never occurred on the floor in my parents' room.  It also never occurred when I was lying on my stomach.  Hypnagogia always occurs more when I am stressed out.  I have been having at least one episode a night for the last six months but I spent the night at my parents last night and did not have one single event.  I slept like a rock.

post #14 of 18

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ellemenope View Post

Unfortunately, when I was nineteen I started having hallucinations coming out and going into a particular sleep cycle which is called hypnagogia.  

...

 

I can lucid dream and can dream in the third person sometimes switching perspectives throughout the dream. I have even dreamed an entire original movie from introduction of characters to the happy ending. 


You mean these are not normal, ie lucid dream, third person, switching perspectives etc? I have had such dreams since  I was a preschooler and I must say I do regard my dreams as a source of ideas for many things. I still clearly remember a dream I had when I was about four or five of me looking down at myself sleeping, before drifting into a dream in a dream.

  

Thanks for the heads up for "hypnagogia"! I've never heard of that and I went to google it immediately. Interesting! Perhaps it is heditary, I understand that my father also gets vivid dreams, and some of my relatives as well. The texture of such dreams are always different.  And there is still a difference between the "inspiring" dreams and the scary ones though both are equally vivid.

 

I was going to suggest to OP that she could explore changing her daughter's sleeping place. I agree that there are places that seem to be more conducive to a good night's sleep. It's a terrible experience to go through nights, and eventually years, feeling tired and petrified.

 

 

post #15 of 18

Sleepwalking occurs more frequently when the child is over-tired to begin with.  So perhaps an earlier bedtime would help.  Also, if the child gets disturbed/slightly awakened about an hour after going to bed, that is the prime time to sleepwalk.  So perhaps making sure that the entire household is quiet/dark would help, too. And sleepwalkers have a hard time with coordination in their sleep, so I think that the gate at the stairs would stop her.  (Our stair gate stops my 8 yo. son when he occasionally sleepwalks.) I'd also put a chain link on the top of your door so she can't get out of the house. 

post #16 of 18

I am so sorry that you and your DD are dealing this this. My DD is almost 6 and we have been dealing with this since she was about 18 months. The night terrors and sleep walking are far less often than they used to be, but honestly, we tried everything we could (earlier bedtime, room temp., waking before they happen, diet modification) and nothing seemed to work. Trying to wake her or comfort her only made it worse. My heart goes out to you and I hope that you find something that helps. It is so difficult for the family as well as the child.

post #17 of 18

Kinda late in the game, but I recently came across a magazine article that discussed what's called imagery rehearsal therapy for dealing with mightmares (it's not in English, so no link, but I googled it and there appears to be lots of info). Not sure whether that's offered for kids, but maybe there is a way to fashion a DIY version for your daughter.

post #18 of 18

interesting my DS has started having night terrors again (they had pretty much gone away). When he was a toddler he had them mostly during naptime. They are around 9 or 9:30 (he usually is asleep by 7:15). I have noticed a hot room and tried no PJs last night and he didn't get them. I am going to look for a cal/mag liquid supp to have before bed- anyone tried that? I have tried valerian with him (he rises very early, frequently before 5AM, though usually closer to 5:30). It helped him sleep a bit longer but seemed to cause more night terrors. Getting tired is a good thought... its easy for this to happen since he is such an early riser. Lately he will read until his sister and I get up, so its not bothering ME as much as it used to, but I might not even be aware anymore when he's really gotten too little sleep.

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