Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Zombie Days and Inspiration Boards

Anyone with children will remember those first days, weeks and months of new life, when a tiny little sweet smelling but slightly alien like bundle of squishyness first enters your world.  Those drained, dazed days where you stumble from one incompetently carried out task to another, desperate for sleep but still buoyed by the love you feel for this little creature.

With children of 3 and 7 I thought those days were gone.   But I now have a son who almost never sleeps for more than a couple of hours at a time. 

And it is not that he is not trying to sleep.  But he is interrupted by nightmares and night terrors.   

Both of my children have had night terrors.  If you don't know what they then you are fortunate.   My husband gets them too.   Wikipedia gives this description:

night terror, also known as a sleep terror or pavor nocturnus, is a parasomnia disorder characterized by extreme terror and a temporary inability to regain full consciousness. The subject wakes abruptly from slow-wave sleep, with waking usually accompanied by gasping, moaning, or screaming while waking. It is often impossible to awaken the person fully because they are so concentrated on waking, and after the episode the subject normally settles back to sleep without waking. A night terror can rarely be recalled by the subject. 

So, little P has these, and then also has trouble getting back to proper sleep, and then wakes hourly, it seems, and has a cough, and talks and sings in his sleep.  And gets very overtired, and then we start again the next night.

It is one thing to have no sleep when one has a little baby and is not working. It is quite another to try to function at work and look after other children and run a house on no sleep.    

I think that half his problem is that he has a big heart and a very very active imagination, filled with Bionicles, dinosaurs, bad robots, good robots and all things in between.  I need to find a way to calm him down, to slow down his mind so that bed time becomes a time of peace and calm.   

One idea I have is to remove all Merlin style stimulants pre bedtime.  Maybe I have let him get too involved in playing Knights and Horses, or robots fighting but he is just such a boy that he loves to be this way.

I thought I might use the idea of the ubiquitous inspiration board (and I do mean ubiquitous - Google it to find exactly 1 trillion happy wedding inspiration boards) to create a little place in his room where all the calm gentle things he loves have a place.

I love these three dimensional textural boards, and I thought I might try this for P:

I think rather than being inspirational, these are more like memory boards.   It might include a special drawing, some shells found at the beach, photos of family, tiny toys and other little treasures. 

This last one, by Cobi Ladner, makes me think of Anna Spiro's style. 

So, a plea from a desperate lady.  Apart from making sure he is not getting overtired, do any of you have tips on how to manage night terrors and nightmares in a 3.5 year old? 

(Images (1) House and Home (3) SculptressStudio.Blogspot (4) snakk.klik.no (5) StaceyStyleFiles.Wordpress (6) Thomas OBrien via Paloma 81) 


Unknown said...

Hi Jane, Gosh that's tough and it's funny because I was only speaking to a girlfriend today who's 4yr old daughter has recently started having night terrors as well. I think your idea is a great one, fill his little mind with pleasant calming thoughts before bed. I am also struggling with a lack of sleep, my little Will has been sick for weeks and now has a chest infection and a fever :(
I hope you have some success with you bubs sleep.

brismod said...

How terrible for you all. You must be exhausted all the time. I wish I could give you useful advice. I think your idea of providing comforting images in P's room is a good idea. And it can't hurt to substitute the Merlin stuff before bedtime for a couple of weeks...I hope you find something to make it better. xx

Ann said...

I can't offer much advice just sympathy. It sounds quite awful and so much worse than the occasional nightmare my kids have. Love your mood board approach - certainly a calm bedtime might help and it can be so hard to get boys to stop and just be still and calm - my life's work...!

Millie said...

I suppose if I suggest a new sibling to buddy up & room with you'd probably never darken The Hedge's front page again Jane! 3 of my boys shared a very large bedroom all their school days & acted as comforting sleep guardians for each other. Be gentle with youself during this challenging time, sleep deprivation is the most insidious of experiences. This will pass I promise.
Millie ^_^

Emma said...

Oh you poor things! My oldest had night terrors for about a year. They tended to happen within a few hours of him going to sleep and were frightening in their intensity. We were given a few tips by a paediatrician friend. Apart from avoiding letting him get over tired (so difficult when they are having nightmares!), she emphasised that we make sure he wasn't overheating. We took him out of sleeping bags and turned the heating down a fraction and it made a significant difference. Other tips we were given included disturbing his sleep, this will only work if he has the night terror at a predictable time and lastly the old wives tale is to dab lavender oil on the pillow. Thinking of you and really hope that you all get some sleep soon.

Amanda (Small Acorns) said...

My Milly went through a long period of these Jane. She was older than your little P, and truly, at first I found them so frightening myself. She would jabber away and point at things in the corner of her room so that I'd almost believe something was there, and she'd just appear in a trance beside me. I found that if I could get her back to bed without waking her, and then gently wake her with a drink, then she would go back to sleep peacefully. And absolutely no memory of the terror in the morning. Calm stories before bed. Millie's right, they do seem to have mostly passed. Hope you get some rest soon. xx

JMW said...

Poor little guy! We haven't experienced this with our two kids - perhaps your pediatrician can offer some advice? The only issues we have right now are just getting them to bed in the first place! The memory boards are lovely, by the way!

Mise said...

Poor you, it sounds very traumatic and I sure wish I could help. I hope the moodboards are calming and you and the household get some more sleep.

Josephine Tale Peddler said...

Hello Jane, I share your lack of sleep pain as my five year old still gives me broken sleep. I've had broken sleep for so many years now with the old dog needing attention and my daughter's various stages. My daughter gets very bad growing pains which aren't a lot of fun. I did have night terrors when I was younger and they were pretty awful. My partner still has them at times. I always thought that they were part of the development of the brain and a necessary evil but that may not be right as I was having them when I was about fifteen. I hope you find a solution. Lavender and chamomile oil might be of help and all the soothing bedtime routines. Good luck. It can't be much fun working as well. xx

Ness Lockyer said...

I love them. Inspiration boards have saved me many a time. Cant do without them. I love the big ampersand on the board.
Ness xx

Bonita said...

We tried many approaches. The most successful was we told our son that our dog Lucy would get the baddies. After a few months the nightmares disappeared. We also prayed with him and reassured him Jesus is watching over him.
X Bonita

Kristine said...

You could try giving him a dose of Children's panadol before bedtime- just so he sleeps that bit heavier. He might get an uninterrupted night's sleep, which might break the cycle. Our Max used to have them. It's very hard to wake them. The only way we could wake Max was by saying, "look, there goes a digger." (he was obsessed with construction at the time).

Me said...

Night terrors totally freak me out - luckily we only had a dozen or so before they just stopped one night.

PS LOVE your comment on my blog today - absolutely wetting myself. So True. PS I did explode in the end

Unknown said...

These inspiration boards are great! They ring with creativity and thoughts of a real creator. What about inspirations on window treatments? I came across your post this afternoon while browsing interior design blogs and the topic of window treatment selection was very interesting to me. It is true that you must dress your windows appropriately to bring out their true beauty. Thank you for writing and as a special thanks to you and your readers, I would like to offer a 20% off coupon using this code upon checkout: BLG20.

Michele @ The Hills are Alive said...

what about massage or relaxation CDs before bedtime or listening to in bed on iPod perhaps - are some great guided visualisations ie going on a space ship ride etc

Also theres a lot of work in child psych that looks at EXTERNALISING the problems ( I think it is Michael White and someone else) they do things like talk about "the angries" rather than "when you have a tantrum" or the "sneaky poo/wee" when a child has encopresis/enuresis and the child is empowered to be the boss of their body and "trick the sneaky poo". May work more for nightmares than night terrors though as night t seem to be more of an autonomic/brain thing. Definately cut out anything overstimulating and not just pre bed but all day as one theory of bad dreams/bad sleep = processing the day and the more to process the more the brain has to do.

Email me (hillme71ATgmailDOTcom) if you want more info on this (partic the relaxation stories and the Externalising stuff)

Jane said...

Oh, Jane, I empathise, you poor things. Our 4.5 year old son, Joshua, has had them for the past 9 months. He wakes every night between 11 and 12 pm, absolutely hysterical and runs through the house screaming. My husband often ends up sleeping with him in his bed to calm him down (particularly since he shares the room with his 2.5 year old sister). Our paediatrician suggesting waking him at 10.30 pm for a drink and to go to the toilet in order to upset his sleep cycle. It works sometimes. Lately he hasn't been quite as distressed so we don't know if he's still having the night terrors or has fallen into a habit. As you know, you can't quiz them in the middle of it. Best of luck! J x

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