Thoughtful Thursday – Nightmares

So, I revealed that I have a secret passion for old movies.  I also really have always liked futuristic science fiction and thrillers.  So, one of my favorite shows of all time is the Twilight Zone.  I even created my own episode with some friends in high school.  Even though I have seen almost every episode, I recently decided to make it my free time task (while my hands are busy making Christmas gifts), to go back and watch every episode I didn’t remember.  I am currently in season 3.

So I just watched an episode called “Little Girl Lost.”  It starts off with the girl’s parents waking to her crying, and going in to her room.  When they get there, the girl is gone, but they still hear her crying.  I won’t tell you what happens so I don’t ruin it for you.  Guess what?  This totally happened to me!

One  night I woke up to Joe crying.  Going into the room at night, I never turn the light on, because the boys will usually sleep through the other’s tears, but not through the light being on.  I went to Joe’s bed and knelt next to it.  I could tell his cry was a nightmare, so I reached out to rub his head and said, “It’s ok, it’s just a dream.”  My hand only touched his sheets.  I felt all over the bed.  Only sheets and blankets.  I still heard him crying.  In the dark, it was difficult, but I looked under the bed in case he fell out and rolled under.  No Joe.  In the rocking chair…playing with trains… in the toy corner…under the crib…no Joe.  Was he crying because he was sucked into a parallel universe?  He was in the corner, standing close to his bureau, still whimpering.  He was sleeping there, but standing.  I got him back to bed, and he woke up slightly.  He told me he had a bad dream, but I can’t remember what this particular one was about.  The most recent one he had was that horses were trying to eat him.

The research says to avoid bad dreams with kids:

1.  Maintain a consistent sleep schedule.

– Joe almost always goes to bed at 7:30 and wakes at 6:30.  He takes a nap in the early afternoon for 2 hours.  Very rarely do we have exceptions.

2.  Be extremely cautious about what your child is watching on television, including commercials.

-Joe doesn’t watch television.  He may watch a video of one episode of either Blues Clues or Sesame Street once a week.  No commercials.

3.  Don’t let your child watch TV close to bed time.

-This has never happened.

4.  Don’t give caffeine to your child.

-What parent would do this?  Do you really think a 2-year-old needs more energy?

5.  Have a consistent, relaxing bedtime routine.

-Yes, we do this.

So what do we do?  What are we doing wrong?  He doesn’t have a scary life.  He has nightmares maybe 2-3 times a month.  Is it normal?  Does he just need to deal with it?

Finally, is it something he inherited?  I often had realistic and terrifying dreams as a child.  I still remember some of them.  In fact, I still have them.  My husband has been woken up on more than one occasion by my crying, screaming, and thrashing.  The most difficult part though, is that Joe still has trouble with the difference between dreams and reality.  It is difficult to deal with, and I feel very helpless.  Do your children have nightmares?

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One response to “Thoughtful Thursday – Nightmares

  1. I had horrible nightmares & night terrors starting when I was really little and occasionally still have them today, when I am stressed or anxious about something. I know for me, the placement of where I slept in a room made them worse for me and to this day I still have to sleep near a window or I will have them. From what I remember, when really young it doesn’t even have to be from TV of anything, just anything they may have saw that could be scary to them, or if they are stressed or anxious about something. I also used to get worse ones when I wasn’t feeling well, had a fever, or was too hot when I went to bed.

    I used to have a hard time differentiating between night terrors and reality because sometimes during those you are actually kind of awake while it is happening. Maybe to help Joey see the difference between the dreams is have him draw them (if he remembers them) on a piece of paper and get rid of it, rip it and throw away to show the bad dream is gone and not around anymore. Or with the horse, maybe something about a horse scares him and if he learns about them or sees one, maybe that would help. Poor Joe, hope that something helps a little.

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