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My 2-year-old brother keeps waking up at night screaming and crying every 15 minutes. I have school in the mornings, and I'm trying to sleep. Not only is he being disturbed, I am too.

I googled stuff, but nothing helps. We can't take him to the doctor, and we leave his door open and the hall light on. He has a flashlight and a bright night light, but he still cries. I'm wondering if we should just leave him in the pitch black because maybe the night light is illuminating the room and causing shadows.

This is getting old, and fast. I am not getting as much sleep as I need because of this! What do I do?

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    Have you talked to your parents about how this is affecting you? I know its difficult; they are probably getting even less sleep than you, but its reasonable to ask. Perhaps you could sleep downstairs for a bit where you are less likely to be woken?. Also, why can't you take him to the doctor? – Paul Johnson Sep 10 '15 at 6:36
  • More information is definitely required. Also, it's not your responsibility to fix your brother. Tell you parents :-) – David Boshton Sep 10 '15 at 13:51
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    Well firstly, you get your parents involved ;) But if you'd like to give them some ideas, we can help if you give some more info. What's his bedtime (8, 9?), and how long does he wake up (intermittently until 10, 11, etc)? What sort of things soothe him back to sleep? – Acire Sep 10 '15 at 16:06
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    Small children don't make themselves wake up, so it can't be pleasant for him either. If this is a regular occurrence, he should see a doctor just to rule out any possible medical condition. This is not something you can Google yourself. – Mari-Lou A Sep 13 '15 at 21:01
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There are quite a few possibilities as to why your brother is unable to sleep properly, so I'll go over the most likely causes.

  1. Is he tired when he goes to bed?

It's possible that your brother just isn't ready for bed yet. You could help by playing with him before bed or reading him a story. 2-year-olds have a LOT of energy, so trying to dissipate some of that might help. Establishing a bedtime routine might also help.

  1. Was he sleeping normally before?

If this is a new occurrence, it's possible that he's:

  • Scared of the dark
  • Not used to sleeping in a "big boy" bed/Not used to sleeping alone
  • Experiencing nightmares for the first time

It could be one of the above, or all three. Dr. Marc Weissbluth has some more information about proper sleep habits and other probable causes for a change in sleep behavior. Based on what you've described, it sounds like he may have had a bad nightmare at one point, and is afraid of falling asleep (that "waking every 15 minutes") in fear that the nightmare will "get him". Alternatively, he's having very frequent and vivid nightmares when he falls asleep, enough to wake him up screaming and crying every time.

Try to communicate with your brother. Is he scared of something?

Regardless of cause, have a serious talk to your parents about this, especially if you think it's going to start negatively affecting your school performance.

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