2 year old cries when waking up from nap. Does anyone experience this ? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 01-01-2011, 02:56 PM - Thread Starter
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My 2 year old cries when waking up from a nap. He did this before turning 2 but yesterday was the worst I ever seen it. He would scream and cry at the same time I honestly thought he was having an attack like a appendix attack and I was going to call an ambulance but he calmed down. the whole process was about 20 or so minutes long. I did so much research and I read of a lot of people having this problem with their toddlers. I read so many reasons, from night terrors to low sugar. I eventually found a website that explained the exact symptoms and an accrate diagnosis which is called sleep inertia.


This is what I read about it:


There is a condition called sleep inertia where a child "wakes up" before she is fully rested. This is typical in young children. The brain apparently is still in a semi-sleeping state, but the body is also in a semi-wakeful state. (Sleep inertia=sleep brainwaves continuing into the wakeful state) Researchers say this is an uncomfortable disorienting state to be in. The usual symptoms are a crying child who is unreasonable, not quite their right self, and prone to hysterics. The child is sometimes experiencing a stomache or headache as well. As soon as the child is fully awake, they don't seem to remember the crying, or grumpiness.
The cause is either sleep deprivation or waking up from naps or in the morning at the wrong time for the childs biological clock.


I also read that it can be extremely painful and this is what I believe my son goes through.


At this point I am trying to find a solution. One of the solutions is to put the child to bed early but my son won't go to bed early. He will just stay awake in his bed. I really don't know what to do and I was wondering if anyone is or has experienced this or what they have done. I remember my sister saying my niece would wake up crying from naps.  Should I eliminate naps all together? He only takes one a day and most of the time he doesn't even want to nap. but if sleep inertia is  caused by lack of sleep, shouldn't he have a nap? Regardless of having a nap or not, he still doesn't sleep any longer during the night.  He typically sleeps around 10 hours at night with a nap or without a nap. He should be sleeping around 14 from what I read.


I told my ped of his lack of sleep and they didn't give me any solutions.

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#2 of 4 Old 01-01-2011, 04:40 PM
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My DD wakes up screaming frequently - we call them the midnight tantrums, but they also happen after naps.  She's completely unreasonable (want Mama!  NOooooo want Mama, go away!  Want Mama! etc.), screaming hysterically, hitting/throwing, you name it.  I've never thought there might be some kind of "condition" and am hesitant to self-diagnose her, but she's pretty much done it all her life and it sounds similar to what you wrote.  It's only now that she's very verbal & mobile that it's become a bigger deal.  On good days it will be like a light switch - after about 30 minutes she's her fine happy self.  On bad days it morphs into a terrible mood for hours.  It's the rare day that she wakes up calm & happy and we've never figured out what could be different.  At night they can last up to 30 minutes also and we usually end up having to turn on a light and really work to get her awake/present so she can calm down.  She's always been a terrible sleeper; sleeps roughly 8-10 hours (not continuous) at night and one 2 hr nap.  She also fights every time she needs to fall asleep - I think I just figured this wake-up tantrum was an extension of that.


Sorry I don't have any real help/advice for you!  We just try to stay as patient as we can b/c if we get pissy than the whole thing gets worse.  I tell her "I'm sorry you're upset, when you are ready for me I am here." and then I just try and be next to her and wait her out.  If I can get her calm enough to accept a nursing session then she'll nurse for a looooooong time and be much better for it.   

Mama to my Addie Bug wool.gif (10/2008) and angel1.gif (6/2010); nursing student & childbirth educator
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#3 of 4 Old 01-01-2011, 05:50 PM
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dd has had this since maybe 6 months or so. i didn't know there was an official reason but i pretty quickly figured out that it was because she wasn't done napping. as an infant it was easy to deal with since i could get her back to sleep easily and she'd go for one more cycle and wake up happy. now i kind of just roll with it. she pretty much always naps 1.5-2 hours whether she wakes up happy or not so i'm comfortable with the amount of sleep she's getting. 

i just kind of follow her cues as to what she needs...sometimes she likes a bottle and to be left in her crib to have a gentle transition, sometimes she'll still be screaming but want to be taken out nonetheless, sometimes a cuddle will work, sometimes just a little distraction (like saying "hi" to the dog) will snap her right out of it. i prefer the times when we can do a gentle wake-up over distraction because i like to let her work though it comfortably rather than playing "happy" and just distracting her out of it but sometimes it's what she needs.

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#4 of 4 Old 01-01-2011, 06:58 PM
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My DD has done this as well.  She would stand up, or sit up, or start crawling before she "woke up," and then start screaming.  She still sits up and before she fully wakes, but the screaming has stopped.  She was getting plenty of sleep but was on a late schedule.  Also, her circadian rhythm has always been a little screwing.  Lately, it's manifested in going to bed later and later every day, like she's on a 25-hour schedule.


Also, I think 14 hours is high for required.  The internet probably says it's average, but I don't know anyone who has a kid that sleeps that much.  My doctor said 10 hours minimum in a 24 hour day, 11-12 ideally, some will do 13-14 (numbers given to me at 15 months).

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