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Our 11 Year Old Son Experiences Multiple Night Terrors 5 to 7 Nights Per Week

Sam's terrors haven't always been this bad, but over the last six months, they've ratcheted up in frequency and intensity. He's talked in his sleep for the past 8 years or so. Starting at about age 5ish he started to sleepwalk maybe 4 or more times per year. Over the last 12 to 18 months, though, he's started to have full blown night terrors. He screams as if in fear for his life. Loud, piercing screams, "No! No! Nooooooo!" followed by fearful mindless gibbering.

At first, they were somewhat infrequent, perhaps one per week. We could calm him by asking him nonsense questions like, "Sam, where's the purple unicorn?" That would stop him in his tracks and calm him right down. He would then fall into a gentle slumber.

Now when we ask him nonsense questions, it seems to add to his agitation. He's also started running and hiding in various parts of the house. This week he ripped the curtains off the wall and had the window open before we could stop him. (Our room is adjacent to his and our beds are literally less than 10 feet apart.)

We've modulated his diet. (No spicy foods.) We make sure he eats before 6:30pm. We make sure he gets in bed before 9pm. He is not allowed to watch TV or play on the computer after 8pm. He is not allowed to play any violent video games, period, unless you consider minecraft violent. He has night terrors when he sleeps by himself or if he sleeps with one of us.
(Although we do catch them more quickly and can quiet him down more quickly if he sleeps with one of us.) He is showing signs of sleep deprivation at school and is having a difficult time completing tasks.

If we wake him from his night terror, he has no recollection of the terror, nor does he remember it if we don't wake him and ask him the next morning. For the longest time, he thought we were making it up until we filmed one of his attacks. During an attack his eyes are open but are opened a little too wide. He also sucks his cheeks in. It's hard to describe but it's very distinctly different from his normal appearance. Even if he's not having a terror, he will often grind his teeth.

Over the last six months, his attacks have increased in both intensity and frequency. We are not having either night terrors or talking/walking about every 1.5 hours through the night and we rarely get two nights in a row with no occurances. We consider ourselves lucky if he only as one.

Sam is also a type 1 diabetic and is subject to daytime migraines. We've had a basic EEG from a neurologist and we are not pursuing a sleep study at the Stanford Sleep Clinic. Based on our research, our best hope is that he's got some kind of obstructive sleep apnea, but even though he has unusually large tonsils, he never snores.

I'll update this list after the study if we find out anything actionable.
--Sleepless in DC

Comments for Our 11 Year Old Son Experiences Multiple Night Terrors 5 to 7 Nights Per Week

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Sep 09, 2015
I know what your going through NEW
by: Anonymous

I know just what you guys are going through. My son suffered from night terrors also. Screaming and running through the house like he is trying to get away from something. His face would turn kind of a pale color he would sweat and his eyes would be bigger than normal. I would have to try to talk him out of it but most of the time I would hold him real right and try calm him down. It seemed like right after he would half one if he tried to go back to sleep it would wake him back up. It would take about 3 tries. We also tried video taping him but we never seemed to catch it when it happened. He would not remember anything what so ever. My son also suffers from migraines and they put him on medicine for the migraines that he would take right before bed. But after him being on this medicine for about 3 weeks his night terrors increased tremendously. My son is now 12 and the night terrors have slowed down some. He stills wakes up during the night talking to things that isn't there and sleep walks into strange places. Like the basement. I don't know what causes this no one has ever diagnosed it as anything but night terrors and they say he will grow out of it. But as a parent who goes through this so much you feel like there is something that they are missing and they are not helping your child. Well to read other stories so similar makes me wanna question the doctors even more. Well I wish the best for your son as well as I do my own and hope that one day they will just stop or find out what it is. Thanks for listening have a wonderful day.

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