I have had sleep issues since my late teens – started having insomnia. I didn’t have a hard time falling asleep, it was the waking up at 3 am and not being able to get back to sleep that was the problem. I do remember having terrible vivid nightmares at a young age and having to go to my parent’s bedroom if I could even get out of bed. Sometimes I was just frozen with fear. I still have nightmares off and on, but having a son has helped my insomnia – I sleep much better now, because he wears me out.
It seems my son has inherited my sleep issues. (I know it’s not from his father – he sleeps like a log any time any where.)
When my son was a baby he had terrible night terrors – it started about 8 months. He also could never put himself to sleep. We tried all sorts of “methods” but he just couldn’t do it. Now looking back I think everything was “too loud, or too scratchy, or too tight, or too loose, or too hot, etc” – that’s how he is now, but of course back then he couldn’t tell us. So, when I was at my sickest and needed my rest, we brought the baby into our bed. He had to sleep, we had to sleep. It seemed the best solution.
We moved to a new house when he was a little over a year old. He did not like the upstairs in that house. I was never sure why. He wouldn’t play in his room, he couldn’t sleep in his own bed, he cried in our bed. My husband started sleeping with him on a blanket bed on the living room floor. Yep, you read that right… That was the only place he would sleep. And my husband got up at 4 am to go to work, at which time I went to the living room floor to sleep with him. It was really ridiculous. We were still trying unsuccessfully to get him to sleep alone. He needed to touch someone when he was sleeping. He would put his feet on us and push against us. He would push his head against us.
We moved into a new bigger house and we tried to get him to sleep in his own room. To no avail. He was just over 2 years old at this point. I had another surgery and my husband tried to sleep with him in his room on a futon bed. We put a toddler bed in our room and he would sleep there part of the night and then move to our bed in the night.
He still had night terrors – woke up screaming, shaking, crying real serious sobbing tears. He woke up so upset from them he couldn’t go back to sleep. When he was old enough to tell us what they were about, sometimes they sounded terrifying “I fell into the big water and couldn’t breathe.” And sometimes we didn’t understand why they were so scary to him. Once he had the worst dream that his dad stole his cookies. His dad couldn’t come in the room without him throwing stuff and screaming at him.
At this point he was coming to our bed some, I was going to his bed some. Neither of us were really sleeping.
It wasn’t until he was 4 years old that he stopped waking up all night and started staying in his own bed in his own room for most of the night, most nights.
I decided it must be a comfort problem. I got him the most comfortable types of pajamas I could find. He liked the all cotton ones that were tight – like long johns but not textured. I bought them. (they are expensive from a specialty store) I finally decided we had to buy him a better bed. We bought a double bed with a good mattress (I mean, not a sleep number, but not a cheap one), we bought him very nice soft sheets that fit the mattress well. We bought him new pillows and rearranged his room.
All this time I had been doing the bedtime routine and the quiet time before bed and all the things the experts say to do.
Finally, finally he started sleeping through the night for real. And finally I started getting him to go to sleep on his own. It was hard work, I still had to check on him several times when he was falling asleep. But he did it.
He hasn’t had as many bad dreams and rarely wakes up at night. He has had a few big bad dreams, but for the most part he is ok.
Every time we take a vacation or something it throws off his sleeping. I try to stick to the schedule and if possible have him sleep in a bed separately from me. I try to keep him on track.
I was gone helping my mom for a week last month. His grandparents here refused to make him go to bed, so he didn’t get to bed until after 10 most nights – way later than his usual. My husband let him sleep in bed with him. I got home and felt like I was back to square one. I guess with a kid like him 7 days is just too many to let him be off schedule.
It has been 4 weeks. He is still telling me he can’t sleep alone and refuses to go to sleep on his own. It takes so much out of me and so much out of our evening.
In a couple weeks we are also going on vacation, so I know I shouldn’t push it. We will just have to go back to the way things were when we get home….