I think Duckie has night terrors. I complained to Brian a few days ago that her sleep cycles weren’t improving. In fact, they’re getting worse. Once I put her down for the night, she’s up again in less than two hours, and it takes several exhausting attempts to get her back in bed. At this point I’ve usually taken my meds and am starting to get a little sleepy, so sitting on the bed next to her somehow turns into passing slap out and waking up with not-so-gentle kicks to my kidneys.
I used to be able to pat her back to sleep. Over the last couple of days, that’s been impossible. I tried to pick her up last night and rock her, but it only pissed her off. I couldn’t get her to wake up at all. Even patting her hand to try and comfort her earned me a slap. I tried to cuddle her back to sleep and she writhed and rolled off my lap, screaming. It was really upsetting.
So I thought maybe she had nightmares, and that’s what I originally searched for when I checked my baby care websites (www.askdrsears.com and www.babycenter.com). But at the Dr. Sears site, the only match was “night terrors.” Here’s what it said:
* Your child seems frightened, but cannot be awakened or consoled.
* Your child may sit up in bed, or walk around the room, screaming or talking senselessly.
* 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.
Six out of eight. Hm. They say it has something to do with her ability to pass from one stage of sleep to another – and that it really doesn’t have anything to do with nightmares per se, which happen later on in the sleep cycle, during REM sleep. Don’t worry, they say – the roughly 2% (or 15 – 30% depending on what website you check) who have this problem will grow out of it by the time they’re twelve or so.
(That sound you hear is my brain screeching to a halt from sleep deprivation. There’s only so much that coffee can do.)
At least they suggest some options for dealing with it, if one is not inclined to wait another ten years for a night of unbroken sleep. They mention that night terrors can be associated with over-tiredness or a change in sleep schedule, which is certainly possible. I’ve been trying to get my Daily Show fix in, which means I usually put her down around 8:30 – 8:45. That’s probably too late. So it’s back to the early bedtime, which is really better for everyone.
They suggest not trying to wake her up when she’s freaky like this, just to be there and speak calmly to her until the episode passes. To prevent it, we will have to track when she wakes up after going to bed, then try to take her up fully 15 minutes beforehand, then keep her up for five minutes. I’m wary of this – Duckie will likely think it a fine adventure to be awake at eleven o’clock, and the chances of getting her back to sleep are very slim indeed.
We’ll see what happens.