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    Old 12-08-2007, 05:06 PM   #1
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    Advice on dealing with 10yo sons night terrors:

    I'm on my wits end trying to find ways to stop these night terrors so I'm asking for some advice. First these night terrors are caused in part from PTSD so its not just a childhood phase. These night terrors nearly always occur right around an hour after he falls asleep. It takes him almost an hour to fall asleep because he is deathly afraid of going to sleep because of his nightmares. So I get him in bed around 8pm and he will fall asleep around 9pm and like clockwork will have a night terror every night between 10 and 10:30pm daily.

    He liked sleeping on the top bunk on his bunk bed (higher he was the safer he felt) so I had to make him sleep on the bottom after he jumped off the bed and broke his arm. That was the first night terror because I was just walking in the room after hearing his screams and I couldn't catch him. Even with a broken arm he was still screaming with a look of complete and utter terror and fear. Nothing I did or said would make him come around and it was as if I was not even present.

    He will scream and kick/punch for over half of the night terror. The last 15 minutes or so he gets into a fetal position and cries like he is scared until he gets back to normal. He doesn't remember anything at all and he never really responds when I try and calm him. I try and hold him and talk calmly that everything is fine and I always turn the lights on but it still goes on the same way with no real change or improvement. These things scare the heck out of me because he will roll around in his sheets and I don't know how he does it but he can get himself into positions with the sheets that can choke him or limit his intake of air. I have to stay in his room each night after I heard him gasping for air just to not take chances. I used to stay out of the room (still looking in the room) for the first half hour unless I wanted bruises, my teeth knocked out or a bloody nose.

    I've tried waking him up 20 minutes before he normally has the terrors only to find out it only just delays the night terror. No matter how many times I wake him up if he stays asleep for at least an hour he will have the night terror. Of course as you can guess I cannot stay awake all night nor wake up every 40 minutes from 9pm until 5am or I'll endup in a mental hospital.

    I'm really hoping somebody here has some tips or advice that I haven't read online yet. Also his docs do know about these issues and they have done sleep tests to confirm the night terrors and they have him on meds but so far nothing is helping at all.

     
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    Old 12-08-2007, 08:33 PM   #2
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    Re: Advice on dealing with 10yo sons night terrors:

    Okay. You probably can find this advice on line.. but I know from experience night terrors and active sleep events can be the result of many factors. I had them along with sleep walking, fighting and cleaning (my parents loved the 2 am vacuuming and clothes washing.. we had so many pink whites it wasn;t funny).. until I was 15 or 16 years of age. Mine were a side effect of sever sleep apnea that went undiagnosed until I was 32.

    My sleep specialist gave me this information on it.. because my son started doing the same thing.. we caught his sleep apnea shortly after and when the tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy didn't cure it.. he was placed on a CPAP at 4 yr and 3 mo. Now he sleeps a solid 10 hours a night with the rare nightmare on occasion. The nightmares occur after growth spurts when the pressure needs to be readjusted to accommodate his growth. Let us first get the definition of Nightmare versus night terror straight between us...

    What are nightmares?
    Nightmares are scary dreams. Most children have them from time to time. One out of every 4 children has nightmares more than once a week. Most nightmares happen very late in the sleep period (usually between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m.). Your child may wake up and come to you for comfort. Usually, he or she will be able to tell you what happened in the dream and why it was scary. Your child may have trouble going back to sleep. Your child might have the same dream again on other nights.

    What are night terrors?
    Some children have a different kind of scary dream called a "night terror." Night terrors happen during deep sleep (usually between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m.). A child having a night terror will often wake up screaming. He or she may be sweating and breathing fast. Your child's pupils (the black center of the eye) may look larger than normal. At this point, your child may still be asleep, with open eyes. He or she will be confused and might not answer when you ask what's wrong. Your child may be difficult to wake. When your child wakes, he or she usually won't remember what happened.

    Will my child keep having nightmares or night terrors?
    Nightmares and night terrors don't happen as much as children get older. Often, nightmares and night terrors stop completely when your child is a teenager. Some people, especially people who have active imaginations and are creative, may keep having nightmares when they are adults. In other cases there is a physical cause for these occurances that need to be treated by a specialist.

    When should I worry about nightmares or night terrors?

    Night terrors and sleepwalking require that you protect your child during sleep. Be sure your home is safe (use toddler gates on staircases and don't use bunk beds for children who have nightmares or night terrors often). My parents loved the time I slept walked out of the house and ran about in the pasture in my PJs with the neighbors horses and cows.. I woke up with my dad carrying me home and no clue what was going on.. from then on the kept chain locks out of my reach on the outer doors at night. Nightmares and night terrors in children are usually not caused by mental or physical illness. Often nightmares happen after a stressful physical or emotional event or as a result of severe sleep deprivation due to many common sleep disorders (obstructive sleep apnea being the most common). In the first 6 months after the stressor event, a child might have nightmares while he or she gets used to what happened in the event. If nightmares keep happening and disturb your child's sleep, they can affect your child's ability to function during the day and may be aggravated by a latent sleep disorder.

    In the case of a sleep disorder there are over 80 recognized. Snoring is not a requirement.. but active sleep phases where injuries occur is a red flag for a sleep study. RLS, PLMD, OSA.. the list goes on and a one night sleep study can give you alot of answers. Sleep specialist never medicate before understanding ones sleep pattern. In the case of sleep paralysis, sleep apnea, hypopnea and many other sleep disorders.. sleep meds aggravate the situation making sleep deprivation worse and the symptoms worse. In children many sleep apnea patients are misdiagnosed as ADHD because of fatigue inattention and aggressive behavior. ADHD medication has severe side effects in these cases harming the child and aggravating the sleep disorder..

    SO over all my advice.. since this has been going on more that 6 mo and your son has active sleep phases.. you need to get him to a sleep specialist for evaluation. See what is actually going on it his sleep states and then work with them on curing it. Why? Given your statements...

    He will scream and kick/punch for over half of the night terror. The last 15 minutes or so he gets into a fetal position and cries like he is scared until he gets back to normal. He doesn't remember anything at all and he never really responds when I try and calm him.

    This is classic night terror.. He is stuck in between sleep phases and needs proper stimulus to wake from it. Temperature shift is one of the best ways to do it. Have you tried the cold wet towel on the chest and forhead? Also motion change helps with toddlers.. you can pick them up and rock them trigger a reboot of their sleep phase.

    These things scare the heck out of me because he will roll around in his sheets and I don't know how he does it but he can get himself into positions with the sheets that can choke him or limit his intake of air. I have to stay in his room each night after I heard him gasping for air just to not take chances. I used to stay out of the room (still looking in the room) for the first half hour unless I wanted bruises, my teeth knocked out or a bloody nose. They scare us all. My son has had sleep apnea since birth. His first 9 mo I slept with him on my chest in a recliner because he would catch and gasp and pause in his breathing. Little did I know this at the time.. that he was stopping breathing 30x and hour. I didn't even know I was stopping breathing over 60x an hour myself. Apnea.. sleep stoppages for any reason is a reason for concern.

    Does your son still have his tonsils and adenoids? Does he catch his breathing often in his sleep? Snore? Was he a snorer before the age of 8? Does he sleep with his mouth open? Fall asleep easily on car rides 1 hr +. Do you have anyone in your family with sleep apnea? Even without it.. a CPAP may help keep him from getting stuck inbetween sleep phases and having these night terrors.

    I've tried waking him up 20 minutes before he normally has the terrors only to find out it only just delays the night terror. No matter how many times I wake him up if he stays asleep for at least an hour he will have the night terror. Of course as you can guess I cannot stay awake all night nor wake up every 40 minutes from 9pm until 5am or I'll endup in a mental hospital.
    There is something in his sleep pattern causing this.. I would bet he has a sleep disorder. Call and find an ABSM certified sleep specialist near you.

    Congrats on your promotion. Hope this was of some help.
    Sincerely,
    MG
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    Last edited by mkgb; 12-08-2007 at 08:47 PM.

     
    Old 12-08-2007, 10:10 PM   #3
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    Re: Advice on dealing with 10yo sons night terrors:

    Thanks for the information. Also when I talked about him gasping for air it was because the sheets were choking him. He doesn't snore and I'm sure he doesn't have breathing issues while asleep. Just wanted to say this to avoid future confusion. I'm planning to call a few hospitals and sleep clinics to get him fully checked out because as you said these terrors cannot continue untreated.

    Oh and when you talked about using a wet towel to wake him up I'm sure going to try it but I doubt it would work for the reason below which happens to be my next question. Maybe once each week or so on average during the end part of the terror (the calm part) he will just wet himself and I always found it very odd how I could wash him and change him and he would never wake up. I never thought twice about it because as a kid I would have full blown asthma attacks while asleep with both my parents holding me up in the bathroom with hot water running for steam while they got the meds ready. They would spend an hour giving me meds etc and both my parents said I never woke up and I never remembered anything.

    I only knew when I had an attack when I woke up in the morning with an oxygen mask over my mouth with my mother saying I wasn't going to school today. So it was this that never made me think twice but even to me it seems odd not to wake up after wetting yourself, being cleaned and changed. At some point during that process I'm sure I would have woke up but alas can I really be sure.

    I do hold him and rock him back and forth while I'm not being kicked and punched and its during those times we might wet himself and of course me lol.

    I'm sure these are caused by a few events but he has only had the night terrors for about 10 months now but they are worse now compared to the first few months. The first few months he only had terrors a couple of times a week while the last 5 months has been close to every night. I think I can only remember two nights with no terror since the first of November.

    He saw both of his parents killed in a car crash and he was abused by an older little league player for months before the crash so lets just say he is very fragile even today. I know the nightmares are about both the crash and his abuse because of his drawings and he told me as well. I'm assuming the night terrors are related to both of those events. Most of his nightmares the last few months though have been about the abuse only. Also puberty isn't making his life any easier because he is in full swing right now.

    Right now its just about trying different advice, seeing some new docs and just waiting for something to help him.

     
    Old 12-09-2007, 08:44 AM   #4
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    Re: Advice on dealing with 10yo sons night terrors:

    Thanks for the clarification. I think you need to see a sleep specialist still. The bed wetting is a major sign of sleep deprivation. The sleep specialist may have medications or a device than can improve the overall quality of both of your sleep. I am sure you also have him seeing someone about the trauma as well. Since he is older it may be harder for him to let go.. but the emotional trauma shoudl not effect the hanging in between sleeps states that is the cause of night terrors. I wish I could help more.. but unfortunately.. that is the extent of my knowledge on the matter. When my sleep apnea was treated.. my sleep walking, sleep talking, and such all stopped dead. No more. I am hoping that something like this will occur for you and yours when proper treatment is found.

    Sincerely,
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    Old 12-09-2007, 09:23 AM   #5
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    Re: Advice on dealing with 10yo sons night terrors:

    That is my thinking and I will be seeing a specialist for this no doubt. I also have him seeing several docs each week for the other issues and that seems to be going well. I've read more about night terrors and as you said his past issues shouldn't be the cause of the night terrors. I'm sure they are the cause of his nightmares but not the night terrors. I did call a local hospital with a sleep clinic and they scheduled an appointment for an overnight sleep study on Tuesday night. They will also send him home in the morning with a 48 hour EEG as well.

    They seem to be on the ball and they did say that this issue sounds like it has a medical cause that isn't related to his past issues. They said many of these types of issues do start around his age. They also said the nightmares most likely are causing sleeping issues which will in turn make whatever the medical issue that is causing the night terrors worse. They also said if these tests don't show anything specific they will do more tests but they don't feel it will be needed.

    Thanks again for your help and have a great weekend okay.

     
    Old 12-09-2007, 06:49 PM   #6
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    Re: Advice on dealing with 10yo sons night terrors:

    I am glad that the Hospital sounds on the ball and that they feel as I do. I will be keeping you in my thoughts and hope that you get your answers next week and a solid treatment plan shortly after that.

    Sincerely,
    MG
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    Old 12-10-2007, 06:36 AM   #7
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    Re: Advice on dealing with 10yo sons night terrors:

    The hospital called and wanted Chris and I to come in this afternoon to start paperwork along with doing a few other tests. He will still be staying overnight and I'm hoping Tuesday morning I'll have some answers. They will also still be doing the 48 hour EEG. They believe the EEG still needs to be done because it could be multiple issues causing his problems. They want to have a full picture of these issues so for now I'm very happy with the attention they are giving his case.

     
    Old 12-10-2007, 06:45 AM   #8
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    Re: Advice on dealing with 10yo sons night terrors:

    The night staff that oversee the tests will not be able to tell you absolutely the issue. The results will need to be look over by a sleep specialist. However they will be able to tell you if he was having apnea events or abnormal sleep patterns that would require a second sleep study with a CPAP or such. I am thrilled things are moving along rapidly here for you. There is nothing worse than poor sleep unless it is your child suffering with it. My son is only five but the 4 years of sleep issues will be stuck with me for life.

    Your son is ten.. but they will still most likely want you to stay overnight with him. Normally they have a pull out bed where you can sleep in the same room and deal with any issues he may have during the night. As too night terror episodes.. if such wakes you.. check with the staff as to whether or not they want you to interfere or let him ride it out to get a baseline on the event. Be sure to go in and ask all your questions and bring a recorder just in case you forget something.

    Sincerely,
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    Old 12-10-2007, 07:03 AM   #9
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    Re: Advice on dealing with 10yo sons night terrors:

    They do want me to stay overnight which of course I will be doing. They said the rooms will have video recorders and a nurse always around. They called me Sunday afternoon and told me all of their plans so I could prepare for it all. They asked me to wake him up at 2am and keep him awake as I've done. They are going to keep him awake until 8pm tonight for the sleep study. After the overnight sleep study he will have a 48 hour portable EEG study at home. They also said that a doctor will be present for all of the overnight study because depending on what the doctor sees she may order more tests like a PET Scan etc.

    This hospital tries not to waste time and resources so they arrange to get anything they need done during the sleep study. I'm very happy with this hospital in general as I've been a patient of theirs for quite a few years even as an adult. I wasn't in the sleep disorder area but they seem the same as the area I was always in. Plus All Children's is one of the better hospitals in the country so I'm not worried. I just got fed up with all the local docs and clinics and just decided to contact and pay ACH. I'm not paying full price or anything but for these issues its considered an out of network so its more expensive as I must pay 15% of the cost.

     
    Old 12-10-2007, 07:52 AM   #10
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    Re: Advice on dealing with 10yo sons night terrors:

    The more I hear of this group the more I like it. In network for us is 10% out of our pocket. The fact that they are encouraging normal routine and follow up at home study speaks well for them.

    Our studies are always two parters.. part of the whole sleep apnea thing. We have a baseline study.. sleeping without a CPAP.. then we have a titration study.. where we have CPAPs on and they see how high they have to ramp the pressure to keep us from having the sleep apnea events. Children require special attention and care because they grow so much. Every time they have a growth spurt there anatomy shifts and demands may change. My son is a good example. He started with a CPAP pressure or 5.6.. then he grew 2 inches.. sleep deprivation began to set in again.. boosted the pressure. Events stopped at 6.6.. grew again.. events reemerged.. CPAP adjusted to 7.6.. events stopped. He is eating everything in sight and constantly hungry again.. so I am sure he is about to grow again soon. We are making up for the one year of growth suppression right now. He is growing out of his clothes as fast as we buy them. Right now his wardrobe consists of high waters, just right, and overly large. I am sure you have been through those stages.

    Good luck! And let me know what they find out. I am hoping that you have this thing identified and under treatment by Christmas. My family is going to be on vacation Thursday-Tuesday of this week to the next. So I won't be ignoring you.. just in Disney World.

    MG
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    Last edited by mkgb; 12-10-2007 at 07:53 AM.

     
    Old 12-10-2007, 08:30 AM   #11
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    Re: Advice on dealing with 10yo sons night terrors:

    Yup I know what you mean about growing out of cloths that is for sure. Yes a good hospital makes all the difference in the world. For whatever reason my insurance company won't cover specific tests and studies at this specific hospital "if" I can get an appointment at a covered sleep study center. I was in and out of ACH for severe asthma and heart issues for nearly my entire preteen and teenage life. Oh and you will enjoy your vacation and I used to love thrill rides as a kid but I'm not allowed to ride them anymore. Far too great of a risk riding them now as I'm not sure my heart would make it.

    Thanks again for all the advice and information and yes I'm also hoping I have a clear plan in place before Christmas rolls around. I still haven't done the shopping yet.

    Edit.....I'm leaving now to the hospital so wish me luck and I'm hoping to have a bit more information about what is wrong in the morning. I have to spend nearly all my time keeping him awake now lol.

    Last edited by MarkTS; 12-10-2007 at 01:44 PM. Reason: Added Information

     
    Old 12-10-2007, 04:03 PM   #12
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    Re: Advice on dealing with 10yo sons night terrors:

    Good luck.. I wish I had told you to bring a camera to get a picture of all the wires and leads they hook you up with... We have a picture of my son wired up and on a CPAP for the first time. He actually enjoyed all the cameras and gadgets.. he almost didn't want to sleep too exciting for a 4 year old.
    MG
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    Old 12-11-2007, 06:28 PM   #13
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    Re: Advice on dealing with 10yo sons night terrors:

    Wow this day has been a complete nightmare. I got him to the hospital last night right at 6pm sharp. They made him wait until 10pm until they would let him sleep and I mean they kept him up the entire time. I was told he could sleep starting around 8pm so I ended up lying to my son. So he fell asleep almost instantly at 10pm and as expected he had a major night terror about an hour later. This one lasted for nearly two hours so of course I'm worried.

    So as of now I'm upset because I still have no idea (not even a hint) of what is wrong. All I know is that they did a CT Scan, MRI and a PET Scan. Yes they did all of these tests while he was asleep. So 7am rolls around and I'm expecting them to release him only to find a doctor walk into the room and tell me they are going to admit Chris and he will stay overnight at the least. They only tell me they need to run more tests and they need complete control of his diet and know when he sleeps etc. So I'm at home now and I'm hoping I have a few more answers when I see them in the morning.

    Right now I fully trust this hospital and their choices but I'm not happy at all at how they inform their patients.

     
    Old 12-11-2007, 07:25 PM   #14
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    Re: Advice on dealing with 10yo sons night terrors:

    Ugh! I managed to get my son first in line for his sleep study. Normally they only have one or two techs on board to hook up the wires and such so they go down the list. Since my son was five I was able to get then to let us come in at 7 and we had him hooked up and settled to sleep about 8:45 pm. I am sorry that they did that to you.

    Well the fact that they didn't say anything about a tumor, structural defect, or any blockages in the CT, MRI, or PET is good. They are now trying to determine which of the 80 some odd sleep disorders is bothering him.. it can be difficult to narrow down. I was worried that he might not sleep deep enough in the hospital surroundings to have a episode for them to evaluate. Since he had a 2 hour one.. wow, amazing... the normal maximum is about 45 minutes. Must have been the break in his routine. They didn't want you there during the day time studies? I am surprised. Well hopefully the will have answers for you tomorrow. I hate that you have to wait.

    My prayers are with you and your son.
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    Old 12-12-2007, 05:50 AM   #15
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    Re: Advice on dealing with 10yo sons night terrors:

    Chris and I are home now and they have him hooked up on a 48 hour EEG now. I talked for about an hour maybe longer with the docs. It seems that all of these issues are seizures. I've never seen a seizure look like a night terror before so I'm still shocked at hearing that. All afternoon while he was awake they did different things to trigger a seizure and many of them worked.

    They aren't sure if he would grow out of them nor are the docs sure if this isn't damage unseen until now from the accident. They called his teachers and asked them many questions and I guess the big issue is that many of his teachers would notice Chris would be looking into space as if nobody was home. Teachers could call him and even touch him and he wouldn't respond. These were very frequent once he first got back to school and the teachers believed these issues were a result of stress of the whole events. They got less frequent over time so it only confirmed what they thought. They did tell me no more video games, glow skating/bowling etc as these would trigger seizures for him.

    They still need to run many more tests to confirm it but they are sure enough on it to tell me and start treating it. So at least I know the answers but at the expense at now having many more questions without answers. Thanks again for your support and I do hope you have a great vacation and I'm sure your kids are getting anxious now.

     
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