Does your child wake up screaming? - Mothering Forums
The Childhood Years > Does your child wake up screaming?
Beth F's Avatar Beth F 02:24 PM 08-13-2008
Our 4.5 yo ds often wakes up screaming during the night and in the morning. When he was a baby, he always woke up screaming.....each and every time he needed to nurse during the night (at least 10/times/night for two years), in the morning, during naps when he needed to nurse, and when he woke up from nap. He doesn't like transitions.

This morning, he was raging/meltingdown (again) from the moment he woke up.
On some level, I understand that he's having a hard time and not choosing to do this but on another level...I have become selfish (exhausted) and resent that the entire family is being woken up again. I get this image of the boy who called wolf too many times, and it has worn me down to be woken up thousands and thousands and thousands of times like this. I suppose that my response has to do with my upbringing and that I have to rise above it. sigh.

Does/did your child do this? How long will this "phase" last? What can I do to help him?

TIA

Girlprof's Avatar Girlprof 04:03 PM 08-13-2008
Yes, our DS does this! It's awful! I don't know when it started and it's not every night by any means. But when it happens, he wakes up in the middle of the night screaming. It's very hard to get him to stop. He does seem to know who we are and where he is so I don' tthink it's a night terror. I have no idea what to do, but if you find out, please post it! Last night papa marched him to the bathroom - he almost always goes potty when he wakes up at night. This did actually shorten the screaming time considerably.
TEAK's Mom's Avatar TEAK's Mom 05:43 PM 08-13-2008
My oldest was prone to night terrors and waking up screaming. I still shudder when I think about that time period. One thing that helped was to get something with protein into her before she even got out of bed. We also used a lot of Calms Forte and Rescue Remedy.

The good news is that, at 6, she doesn't have night terrors any more and hasn't for at least a year and a half.
LynnS6's Avatar LynnS6 07:41 PM 08-13-2008
Two different ideas:

1. Is he prone to low blood sugar at all? My kids need a bedtime snack with some fat/protein in it. Ds in particular used to wake up crying if he didn't get a snack.

Try getting him a little juice or something just as he wakes up in the morning. That might help.

2. My niece was like that. She would sob for about 30 min/1 hr. when she woke up. She outgrew it by about 6 or 7, I think. She's a happy, healthy 25 year old now!

As for the middle of the night waking, it's very common for kids to get nightmares at this age. Things that help: making sure he gets enough sleep (overtired kids have more nightmares), pay close attention to videos/media, especially before he goes to bed, make sure you have a calming bedtime routine, look at your day/his day to see if there's anything stressing him.
Beth F's Avatar Beth F 02:15 AM 08-14-2008
Sometimes, his screaming gets even worse when dh brings him to the bathroom....or, we ask him to stand up after he's gone to the bathroom because he's just sitting and sitting and sitting, and we are interested in getting back to bed. He jumps up and down, shakes, and screams like an animal being killed.........needless to say our adrenalin is high and sleep is illusive for everyone who woke up. For a while, we brought dd potty into our room so that he didn't have to travel so far and used the humidifier light to illuminate his activity. That did the trick for a short time but.............

He eats lots and lots of protein. We eat before we begin the wind down to bed, which sometimes takes a while. So, he's not going to sleep on a super full stomach. And, yes, he's overtired. He's always overtired. He has a hard time falling asleep, staying asleep during the night, and wakes too early. We try to make the routine, well, routine but he resists and resists. He doesn't want to do the various steps and screams. He wants to stay up all night and read. The visual chart makes him angry. Many nights, turning the lights out causes some screaming even if he's the one to turn out the light......we try to keep things calm but.....we have lavender essential oil in our room. His bed is next to ours. We've tried CalmForte without success. We've tried melatonin, and it didn't help him go to sleep any sooner. He seemed to have more nightmares with it.
pemja's Avatar pemja 08:05 AM 08-14-2008
My four year old daughter has never ever woken up happy in her life. Not even as a baby when others would just coo and play when waking up. She screams from the start, and takes anywhere from 10 minutes to 40 minutes to really get out of it. She has sensory issues (and sees an OT) and I think that's a lot of it. She's never been a "good sleeper" -- wakes up alot in the night and has trouble settling at night. The whole transition from sleep to wake is just really really hard. Things that have helped (slightly!) in the past have been a weighted blanket, remedies at night, and joint compressions throughout the day and before bed. Does your son suffer from any other types of sensory integration issues (textures, foods, etc)? If so, I'd suggest an OT eval. Good luck! I'm hoping like other posters that by 6 or 7 she will be done with it.
Shanana's Avatar Shanana 05:48 PM 08-14-2008
DD1 (3 yo) has been doing this at night for a while - can't remember exactly how long, it's all a blur, sigh. It's not night terrors, although sometimes I think she had a bad dream, and at least one time I'm fairly certain her hand had fallen asleep. She is either unable or unwilling to tell me what's going on, though. It takes years off my life every time it happens, and I have my lowest parenting moments during these times.

She has always fought sleep, although she doesn't sound as bad as your ds. I just don't understand why kids won't sleep when they're tired and eat when they're hungry. These are basic, human requirements. She will sometimes fall asleep in my arms while she is screaming that she doesn't want to go to sleep .

No solutions here, though. I know she will grow out of it eventually, although I have no idea when that might be. Thank the goddess that dd2 is turning out to be an awesome sleeper, and sometimes sleeps better than her much older sister.
Beth F's Avatar Beth F 02:15 AM 08-15-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by pemja View Post
My four year old daughter has never ever woken up happy in her life. Not even as a baby when others would just coo and play when waking up. She screams from the start, and takes anywhere from 10 minutes to 40 minutes to really get out of it. She has sensory issues (and sees an OT) and I think that's a lot of it. She's never been a "good sleeper" -- wakes up alot in the night and has trouble settling at night. The whole transition from sleep to wake is just really really hard. Things that have helped (slightly!) in the past have been a weighted blanket, remedies at night, and joint compressions throughout the day and before bed. Does your son suffer from any other types of sensory integration issues (textures, foods, etc)? If so, I'd suggest an OT eval. Good luck! I'm hoping like other posters that by 6 or 7 she will be done with it.
Ahhh. DS has sensory issues. We've been to two OT's. We didn't really see any improvement. Maybe, we need to revisit that again. Maybe, I need to work on his "sensory diet". I'm exhausted from all the wake ups and cooking for all of our family's food sensitivities. DS cooed once when he was 11 weeks when he first woke up. It was wonderful and never to happen again. I wondered if this was transition from asleep to awake. All tolled, we spend hours every day trying to transition from thing to another. Do you brush with the joint compression? We had until he refused. As for the weighted blanket, does it make your dd hot. DS is sensitive to temperature - our room must be between 72F-76F. He hasn't/can't sleep with covers since he was about 5mo.
Doe11's Avatar Doe11 11:36 AM 08-15-2008
I am also a father, this discussion is very use full for me, thanks to all.
LynnS6's Avatar LynnS6 06:09 PM 08-15-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Beth F View Post
Ahhh. DS has sensory issues. We've been to two OT's. We didn't really see any improvement. Maybe, we need to revisit that again. Maybe, I need to work on his "sensory diet". I'm exhausted from all the wake ups and cooking for all of our family's food sensitivities. .
DEFINITELY look into OT. A weighted blanket would be tops on my list too. But overall OT works on self regulation and that sounds like it's a huge issue for your ds.

Joint compression is key to the brushing, but you don't have to do it. Can you get him to do a few push-ups and jump up and down? That does it too!

From your description it sounds like it's time to call in some professionals - whether that's OT and someone else or a sleep specialist, I can't tell you. But when it's stretched your family resources too thin and the NONE of the things taht don't work for typical kids are working, it's time for outside help, IMO.
SabraMamma's Avatar SabraMamma 02:21 AM 08-16-2008
My DS is 4.5 yrs. As a baby he was a HORRIBLE sleeper. He NEVER slept through the night until he was 2plus years old. He still wakes up most nights, at least once if not more! I totally can relate to the exhaustion factor and how your nerves are frazzled mamma! It is such a horrible feeling to be sleep deprived for so many years. Something that has worked for me, just in the sense of my own personal selfish sleep needs, is that I have taught DS to come to me in the middle of the night if he needs me or is scared or anything!! There are some nights that he comes running and screaming and crying, but I do not have to get up!! Luckily though,he settles down as soon as he gets to me! When he was younger it wasn't that easy.
katiecat's Avatar katiecat 10:51 AM 08-16-2008
Oh my goodness it is so interesting for me to be reading this now. It is very much what went through, too. I remember being so sleep deprived and wondering why ds would scream everytime he'd wake up. For us it wasn't so much when he'd wake up for good in the morning but the middle of the night wakings (which were very frequent until he was 3, close to 4) and after naps. I was always there to nurse him but I can remember sometimes during naps I would go lie beside him around the time I thought he'd be waking to head off the screaming. I was always so glad I had the nursing (he weaned at 5 years old) because that was the only thing that stopped the screaming. But I was exhausted.

At the time I didn't think much about things like OT but I have always known he's very sensitive to certain things. For a while I was pretty sure he would wake screaming everytime he peed and I still that that's a possibility. It seems when he started waking up dry was when the screaming stopped which was sometime just before he turned 4. He doesn't do it anymore now (at 6 years old).

The more I read though I am thinking I should get him some help - I wish I had looked into it sooner. It might have made so many things easier for all of us. (He will be evaluated this fall at school and I have made up my mind that if I am not entirely happy with the evaluation and help (if any) they can provide I will look into it myself.)
mags's Avatar mags 01:21 PM 08-16-2008
My youngest has always been the screamer/crier when he wakes up. He is turning three this wk. Things are starting to get better. I would say it's about 75% screaming/crying when he wakes up and 25% good mood when he wakes up. I think that babies who do this probably just need some time and will eventually outgrow it. My oldest son was always the most pleasant baby when he woke up, I'd hear him SINGING when he awoke. So, it was a total shock to me when I had baby #2 and all he would do was scream, cry and be unhappy. He's always been a very high needs, sensitive kind of kid, reminds me a LOT of my brother. However, the good thing is my brother is now a very nice and sensitive (in a good way) adult. So, I guess I feel that maybe my son takes after my brother and if he turns out like my brother as an adult, I'll be very happy.
chattymama's Avatar chattymama 12:57 AM 01-26-2009
My baby always cries too I a so glad to see we are not alone. But I wish I could get some help changing this.
neveryoumindthere's Avatar neveryoumindthere 01:12 AM 01-26-2009
My dds did this as well. After a looong time we discovered 2 main reasons:

1. Crying needing to pee, but in a deep sleep couldn't/wouldn't say so

2. Food intolerances (which made them need to pee so often at night--in our case dairy and gluten)

Have you considered either of these?

HTH
earthmama369's Avatar earthmama369 01:23 AM 01-26-2009
DS (2.5) does this, too. I've thought it was various things at various times -- teething, food allergies, nightmares, needing to pee, etc. And all of those things have been present, and sometimes a factor in his sleep, at various times. But even when they aren't, he still doesn't sleep well and he wakes up screaming and crying. Over and over again, all night long, most of the time. We might get a day, or even a few days, where he sleeps really well, and our hopes go soaring, but then it starts all over again. He fights falling asleep, he fights staying asleep. He doesn't even get really mad at us, think. He's mad at feeling tired, mad about his body wanting sleep.

I'm reading a book a friend recommended to me called "Raising Your Spirited Child" and holy cow, parts of it describe ds to a T. Especially when it comes to his sleeping habits. He has trouble with transitions and irregular bio rhythms, so he's never hungry or sleepy at the same time from day to day and doesn't have an easy time switching gears from awake to sleep and back again. It just messes him up.

Knowing this is his temperament hasn't really changed his patterns at all. I'm not sure we can. But it has helped us accept that this is normal for him, so instead of trying to force a regular pattern on him, we're focusing on easing his transitions so that he'll be ok with hanging out quietly in bed for a few hours if he isn't able to fall asleep at bedtime, and helping him not be so upset when he wakes up by raising his blood sugar quickly and moving him into something calming and relaxing to do. It has helped. And the easier the transitions get (as we get better at figuring out where all the transitions are and how to smooth them out), the more recharged we are because while he still doesn't sleep, we're not all so upset and wound up. I can handle an awake happy boy in the middle of the night much better than I can handle half an hour of arching, screaming, kicking boy who I can't soothe.
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