My son is 2y8m and he caught potentially gastro last week (threw up a few times, lost appetite). Unfortunately, as he's healing up from gastro, he caught cold (runny/stuffy nose + wet cough). He lost 1kg of his weight and considering he's not big/fat, we're very concerned.

He's been getting better in the past 2-3 days as each day he eats more and have gained appetite. He ate a lot today and that's a very positive sign. He still rejected his milk ever since he got sick. He used to have a dislike with meat but lately he eats only meat! (with a bit of bread/rice). It's like his body is looking for a revenge of the lost-time.

The biggest challenge we're facing right now is his sleep cycle is totally out of rhythm. He usually takes nap for 2-3 hours from 1-4 or 2-4 or 2-5pm. He goes to bed at 9.30PM and sleeps at 10 or 10.30 latest and wakes up around 7.30am-8am. But in the last 4 days, his nap has been disturbed by what we thought to be Night Terror. Worse, occasionally he would had this Night Terror at night as well (been having that for twice in the past 4 days).

This prompted us to cut him off from any gadget usage (in general, he doesn't use gadget too much and whenever we told him to stop, he would eagerly shutdown the device). When he got sick, his consumption of his favourite cartoon show increased significantly and yesterday we decided to delete any access to his favourite cartoon show on all of our gadgets because we thought that could be one of the sources...

I said we thought to be Night Terror because of the symptoms but we also noticed that he couldn't get back to his nap after the episode (today is the worst, he couldn't go back to sleep both at nap and at night).

I'm writing this in the early morning because 2 hours ago, he had a relatively mild Night Terror (didn't scream on top of his lung) and couldn't go back to sleep now (from 2AM to 4AM, he slept at 10PM tonight).

We're not sure if this is a Night Terror or Nightmare or something else because of a few observations:

  • He couldn't go back to sleep
  • He told us to leave the room (he said "bye bye Daddy, bye bye [his-sleeping-aids]")
  • He's angry but not scared
  • His Nighttime night terror occasionally starts at 2 or 3 AM (not consistent)
  • Yesterday night, the night terror was suppressed (it looked like he was saying something in his sleep but he managed to shake it off)
  • The episode could last between 15-20mins

He had Night Terror before in March/April this year before he turned 2 years old (and for a brief after he turned 2) but not as frequent as this and never touched his nap time. The Night Terror probably stops around May.

He had started to sleep in his own room since July and had been sleeping rather well there.

We're tired and very concerned at the moment because this feels like circle of evil: lack of sleep => night terror => wakes up => lack of sleep, rinse and repeat... plus the screaming prolong his cough healing.

In the past 2 months, he's been a very good kid. Lately, he shown bad attitude.

We're not sure what's bothering him...

  • 1
    Have you considered that he might be outgrowing his nap - lots of kids stop napping between 2.5 and 4. It might need he would sleep better at night without it? (also possible he would not, but it is one more thing to think of.)
    – Ida
    Feb 27, 2015 at 23:48
  • 2
    The sleep cycle is not that odd. I wouldn't be concerned about it - especially if it is off the back of an illness.
    – Rory Alsop
    Feb 28, 2015 at 15:26

1 Answer 1


My wife and I went through Night Terrors when our daughter was around your son's age. She would wake up screaming, hands balled in fists and shaking as though she saw something absolutely horrific. Talk about a terrifying experience for a parent.


I wouldn't be terribly concerned with the bad attitude. Lack of sleep makes everyone grumpy. I would say once your son gets back into a regular sleeping routine the attitude will adjust accordingly. My son (almost 7 months old) is crabby when he doesn't nap during the day. I can't even imagine him regularly not sleeping!


Go see a doctor. We took our daughter to see the pediatrician after about a week of recurring night terrors (and extensive Googling on our part). They should also be able to help you out with the post-gastro cold. And the it may be more than a cold at that.

  • 1
    Hi Brian, thanks for the reply. My son's health has improved a lot and he has not vomitted since last week. For the last 3 days, his nap has gone a lot better, 2.5 hours uninterrupted, 30mins less than usual but at least no night terror nor nightmare. Night time is still a struggle up until now. He is constantly having either night terror or nightmare, we aren't sure yet because every times he had it, he'll end up waking up and will have tough time to come back to sleep. Mind if I ask you what you found from your visit to pediatrician? Dec 31, 2014 at 10:35
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    It wasn't much more than advice to help get us through. I can't recall what she told us now (this was 3 years ago now), but it worked well. For us, it was basically a phase. As they say, "This too shall pass." Dec 31, 2014 at 14:35

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