Sunday, February 1, 2009

My Child Bangs His Head in Bed as He Sleeps

For a parent it is one of the most disturbing sleep disorders. You hear a strange sound coming from your young son’s bedroom at night. So you go in his room to see what’s wrong.

You find your son banging his head into the pillow or mattress. He repeats this action over and over again. Or he may be sitting up, banging the back of his head against the wall or the headboard.

The bizarre sight may send a shock of fear through your body. But what you’re seeing is common, and it is rarely harmful.

Head banging during sleep is an example of
sleep related rhythmic movement disorder. RMD is very common in healthy infants and children. It can occur in both boys and girls.

Another common form of RMD is body rocking. Your child may rock her entire body back and forth. She may be on her hands and knees or sitting up.

Head rolling is also common. While lying on his back, your child may roll his head back and forth.

Less common forms of RMD include body rolling, leg banging and leg rolling. All of these actions tend to be very rapid. An episode may last up to 15 minutes. During the motions your child may make rhythmic humming sounds.

The good news is that RMD tends to be harmless. It occurs as a young child’s brain and body continue to grow and develop.

RMD often begins when a child is about six months to nine months of age. It usually goes away by the second or third year of life.

Like many
parasomnias, RMD tends to disturb the parent more than the child. Normally the child will have no memory of the event in the morning.

Talk to your child’s doctor if you are concerned about RMD. Contact an AASM-accredited sleep center if RMD episodes injure your child or keep your child from sleeping well.

Edit: For more information on RMD, read Dr. Lisa Shives' article on CNN.com

64 comments:

Anonymous said...

where do you dig this stuff up?

AASM said...

The International Classification of Sleep Disorders: Diagnostic & Coding Manual, Second Edition (American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 2005)

jukebox6 said...

My two year old son has been doing this for the last year. It is very scary to watch. My husband and I thought maybe he was autistic. The only time he rocks or head bangs his head is when he is sleeping. Thank you for your article. It calms me to know that this is normal and could go away in about a year.

Anonymous said...

my son has been doing this from a very young age. He is now 16 and still does it and to tell the truth it is now really worring me. I want to take him to a doctor but he refuses to go and won't even talk about it. Any advice ?

Crystal said...

My child does this and I am very concerned because it seems to be getting worse. Usually it starts after he has been sleep a couple of hours and now its happening while he is trying to go to sleep.

kevin said...

that sounds the smae as my son who I posted about just before you yesterday. How old is your child ?

Anonymous said...

I was a 'head banger' as a child. First on the crib and later against the wall/head board. I remember it being 'soothing' as it was described here. Anyway, I have RLS Restless Leg Syndrome as well and have always felt the 'need' to rock in a rocking chair or where ever. Doug T

Anonymous said...

.. and I should add that I was an excellent student, gainfully employed, normal in every sense of the word. But just can't seem to sit still! even at 48 years old!!! Doug T

Anonymous said...

I can't tell you how happy I am that I found this site. My youngest son started beating his head against his crib at 5 months as soon as he could rock on all fours. He is 3 years old now and he has never stopped, in fact the older he gets the harder he bangs his head. He does it to fall asleep and through out the night as he sleeps. I have always thought it was weird but our pediatrician kept telling us to ignore it and it would go away. I never realized it could actually be a sleep disorder, I like so many others I have read about thought he might be autistic. thanks for all the posts Adrienne

Anonymous said...

OMG! Im so happy to find this, my son is 25 months old and does every night. he can be in the bed or on the floor. He bangs his head,rocks while sleeping and will rock himself to sleep standing up. I hope he grows out of it and Im glad to know its common. I too began to wondered if he was autistic.

Anonymous said...

my 28 month old son has been 'head banging' since he was 9 months old...he does it until the skin on his head is rubbed raw...any advice on what yal used to cushion the banging?

Anonymous said...

Very happy to find this site. My son is 8 YEARS old and has been rocking himself to sleep since he was 6 MONTHS old.
His rocking can get pretty fast and almost violent. I would think that would keep him from actually falling asleep, but he says he "needs" to do this and he can't fall asleep unless he does.
As an infant, his crib would bang against the walls so bad, we had to move the crib to the middle of the room. We bought him a bigger bed ( Full size) when he turned 5, just to give him "rocking room".
In all this time, I have never told the doctor. Should I mention it now?

Anonymous said...

Like so many others, i'm glad to have found this site. My son is 22 months old and he has been rocking himself since he could sit up. My doctor keeps telling me it's normal, but i'm glad to know it really is, but when is it not normal anymore???

Vicky said...

Thank you for the information that you have come up with. My son is now 3 and is still soing this "head banging" movements at night.. what are the suggestions for an older child continuing to do this at night? The injuries are only nose bleeds (uncommon lately) and bruises on the forhead..please give me something to work with cause it is indeed heart wrenching to watch.

Anonymous said...

My 17 month son has been banging his head before sleeping and sometimes during since he was 6 months. Strangely i recal my brother doing this until he was about 7 but he doesn't recall why he used to do it. I have been really worries that he is causing himself some damage. After all we all know from reading dreadful stories how damaging even shaking can be. I am more relieved that i have found this site but not satisfied that he will be ok. He has a permanent bruise on his forehead and it really upsets us. He seems otehrwise normal i wish he'd stop but what can you do to prevent it, we came to the conclusion that we can't and hope he grows out of it with no damaging effects.

Anonymous said...

My son is 12 and he started to do this as soon as he could held his head up. He sleeps alone, but when his brother, cousins, friends sleep with him in his room, he won't do it. I wonder if it is now more than a habit or relaxing technique. The Dr. told me it will go away with time, but here we are at almost 13. He is a great student, beautiful child, wonderful at sports and very normal. I do worry about it because I can tell that some nights he is not sleeping well.

Anonymous said...

I saw a friend of mine today and she was concerned about my son doingthis rocking movement when he is sleepy or in his crib. She got on a roll about autism, etc which got me a bit afraid and upset but now that I found this article I feel a bit reasured and is glad to know that he is not the only child that does this.

Anonymous said...

My son is 16 months old and he's been banging his head on his pillow in order to go to sleep since he was about 5 months old. It makes me nervous sometimes but i know its just his was of putting himself to sleep at night. When i give him a pacifier he doesn't do it as much. Hopefully he will grow out of it, im just scared hes's going to miss the pillow and start banging his head on the crib rails.

Anonymous said...

wow! my husband and i thought our son was out of his mind! he's 15 months and probably started this head-banging thing a few months ago. it started out as only a rhythmic sound, then he started banging...and it's progressed from there. i knew he was doing this to fall asleep..so autism never entered my mind, as he's a normal child any other time of day. though it may not be something to "worry" about now...i truly hope he outgrows it..as it's pretty darn disturbing. is there anything a parent can do to discourage this method of falling asleep??

AASM said...

A short article in the Feb. 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine stated: “For most affected children, RMD is a self-limited condition that does not require treatment. For children who suffer from particularly violent movements, use of protective padding in the crib or bed is recommended. Drug treatment of RMD has not been systematically studied in children, and a few isolated case reports address pharmacotherapy for this population. Clonazepam, oxazepam, and citalopram have been used with variable success.”

In 2005 a study of older children and adults with RMD was published in the journal SLEEP. The small study from Prague involved 10 people with RMD between 7 and 24 years of age. You can read the study online at http://www.journalsleep.org/ViewAbstract.aspx?pid=26178.

Anonymous said...

I used to do this when I was baby until the age of 7. I use to lie face down and bang my head against my pillow and make a humming noise. I think I just grew out of it in the end. I'm 28 now and there have been no side effects from doing this.

Anonymous said...

like others me and my partner are very relieved to find this site and other parents comments, my child started head banging at 11 months when i took the dummy away from her, so i have always known it is a comfort to go to sleep, but she is now 3 yrs old and the banging is becoming more dramatic and she is loosing allot of sleep, i worry that she continues into her school years!..she also prefers to do it on the floor with know pillow, i don't allow it because it hurts her head, although very reassuring that this is a common thing its quite disheartening to think this is going to continue for years to come!!

Anonymous said...

I am a 47 year old male who was a head banger. I never knew a time in my life when I did not bang my head. I was fully aware that I was doing it, I could not fall asleep unless I was banging my head. I did this until my early twenties. My mother spoke with our pediatrician and also worked for a neurologist and they said I would eventually outgrow it. I was concerned that I would always do this, then I noticed I no longer banged my head but would rock one foot. By the time I was 30 it stopped completely. I'm leaving this message because in a few of the posts above I could sense frustration, it will be ok.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone checked for correlation with bed wetting? I recall banging my head on the pillow to get to sleep as one of my earliest memories {I am 45 now). I was also a bed wetter (still hard to discuss that as it was pretty damaging to my self esteem at the time). I just wonder since they are both sleep related...

Anonymous said...

i have been doing this for 33 years of my life and is the only way i can go to bed unless i sleep with my wife which i have not because of my new born. So im back to banging my head for now.

Anonymous said...

My son is five. His head banging is not just for the bed but also in the car. He bangs his head every night for bed. I even hear him during the middle of the night. He also bangs his head almost every minute that he is in the car.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to let anyone who is concerned about this know that I banged my head until I was about 10. I am now 54. Steady, married life, 2 wonderful children, successful career. It all worked out in the end. I did have quite serious sleeping problems in my teens and even started taking sleeping tablets but weaned myself off them after a couple of years. I have not had any sleeping problems since the age of 20. I do like rocking myself to sleep occasionally but only if my wife's not in the bed as I don't want to disturb her.

Anonymous said...

My son is 8 years old and has been banging his head since he was 6 months. It was so strange to me but I asked his pediatrician and he said that it was fine. I told him that I was worried about it hurting him and he said if it was hurting him he'd stop. I'm still glad to have found this so now I can put a name to it and explain it to everyone else who thinks theres something wrong w/ my son.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I am currently sitting in the lounge and it is very late, another night where no one in the house can sleep due to my 7 year old doing all of the above, he started when he was 6months old and it has never stoped, some night are worse then others. For a while there it got really bad where he would bang his head so had that he would get up in the morning with a egg on his forhead. I used to film it becasuse the health nurse would question it, so I could show her proof of what was going on. Same here everyone says he will stop but now 7 years later and still we are all getting no sleep. As mentioned above he was also a bed wetter but not anymore. Also when he does this he can be awake or asleep but only when in bed and still to today he make like a chant mumer and either rocks or bounces on his knees.

Advice please because I am a mum of 4 children, all very close in age and it is disturbing everyone at night, and restless nights every night for 7 years can take its toll, also like mentioned above he doesnt know he does it most nights.

Anonymous said...

I just Googled this because I'm bored watching TV and I specifically remember doing this as a child. I probably did it until I was about 5 or 6 and I didn't do it every night, but I remember doing it most nights. I just remember it being very calming.

Maybe it's actually a good sign because I now have some of the best sleeping habits of anyone I know (I'm a 27 year old female). I usually fall right asleep and sleep like a baby! Just thought that might calm some parents out there...

Chris said...

I have twin daughter who have been doing this for 4 months. It's great to read about other parents stories but it is not comforting. Forums from parents recount children into their adulthood dealing with this issue. Reading studies from doctors say that it goes away by age 5. Clearly not the case.

My really big question for all the parents and RMD sufferers is, have you tried any intervention? I refuse to let my daughters bang themselves to sleep. I'm desperate to break the "habit". I will sit with them for 5min to an hour each until they fall asleep in my arms. I will race to their room in the middle of the night to stop a "sleep-banging". The problem is that it is not breaking the habit. It may be that my Nanny is not as attentive? Or that it is deeply engrained? It's exhausting. Especially since I have 2 babies with RMD! Has anyone else had any intervention luck?

cait88 said...

I am 18 and I still lay at night and bang my head off my pillow..I do it in my sleep as well as before I sleep at night. I even listen to music now while doing it.I honestly think its not healthy and may be affecting me...

Jackie said...

I am posting a comment using my wifes account. My 9 year old son has been lying on his back rocking side to side quite vigorously since the age of 6months old. He has a global developmental delay with autistic tendencies but is still a very bright lad. His rocking is more of a problem to me then him as even though he is in another room, as he is such a big lad he builds up such a momentum that his bed squeaks very loudly and is constantly waking me up, last night 3 times, I go in his room and tell him to stop, pokeing and prodding him at times, he stops, sometimes for the rest of the night, sometimes for just a few minuites, it is actually driving me mad. I was pleased to see that this is an actual condition and that he is not just being a pain in the backside, I will now be talking to my GP about the situation.

Shannon said...

My son is almost 8 yrs old and has done the rocking since infancy. He rocks violently back and forth on his side and sings or hums quite loudly. He says he cannot go to sleep without rocking and when we tried to wean him off rocking himself he got very frustrated and upset with himself that he couldn't get to sleep without doing so. We have since just learned to live with it and not make a big deal of it, he is a high energy child and may have tendencies towards adhd. It is frustrating if he wakes in the night as he wakes our other children with the singing. He finds white noise comforting at night and must have light in his room, he also buries himself in the blankets. It is comforting to see how many people have older children who do this as well. I worry only that he is not getting enough sleep, he seems tired, has circles under his eyes a lot. We are working on different things holistically to help him sleep better.

Emma said...

My 5 year old son has beed head banging for the last 3 years it started when he was about 13 months when he would bang his legs off the sides of the cot.
When he was moved into a bed thats when he started to bang his head off the pillow and it has got worse ever since.
He will now rock his whole body back and forth whilst smacking his head off the pillow and humming too.
He can have me awake for hours at a time!
I have asked for help from my health visitor,doctor and now being seen by a peadiatritian.
I am hoping that beacause of this site something will now be done as it seems to have baffled every one i have spoken to for the last 3 years and i think they think i am mad!!

richrob4 said...

I am a 50 year old female. I was told I started banging my head as soon as I could lift my head up, probably around 3 months old. I also make the humming sound. I do not do it to go to sleep anymore, but I do wake myself up now, because I am banging. The doctor told my mom I would outgrow it, but I never have. I used to rock and hum in the car too, but my parents made me stop this around 10 because it would jerk the car. This is not just a habit, it is an unconscious movement. You know you are doing it to get to sleep, but when you are sleeping, it just happens and will eventually wake you up.

nickandjoe said...

Im so glad iv found this... i am 32 and i still rock myself to sleep now and then... i also have to move my feet in a rhythmical way to go to sleep and if i stir in my sleep i will do this without knowing im doing it... my husband often tells me to keep still.. but i was in settling our 11 month old son the other night and noticed he too rocks himself to sleep.. he has also banged his head against the pillow... im so glad there is nothing to much to worry about.. Thank you for posting the original post... Nicky.

Sandra said...

great to read that rocking in bed is very common it seems. but more so for males then females. this is to note that I have a 14mth daughter doing this each time she's put into her cot to go to sleep. it IS disturbing especially when sometimes its been up to an hour or even more that she is still rocking and not yet asleep. I wonder if I put her to bed and she just isnt tired yet. then I wonder if she is stressed or anxious. aand mostly i wonder if and what I can do to help her stop this. my husband and I have tried to lay her down and stop her from sitting up again. but mostly to no avail and it just makes it worse as then it seems we interupted her and she takes longer to go to sleep. the latest approach I am trying is talking to her rather then physically laying her down. I tell her its time to sleep and that she must lie down and put her head on the pillow and hug her teddy. she likes to listen and obey but then thinks its a game. but I am hoping it might sink in that to go to sleep she must lie down... will wait and see. fingers crossed ! coz she too at night sometimes wakes up and needs to rock herself back to sleep. whihc is tiring for the rest of the household as we get woken up by it. and like I said before if we try go stop her it only makes it worse it seems and best to leave her at it.

purpledkeys said...

My husband (28 years old) rocks in his sleep every night often throughout the night. He is so violent that it wakes me up. I have tried to stop him but it doesn't help.

irene said...

My son is 2 years old. He has been banging his head since he has been old enoufgh to lift it. It never much bothered me because I could see that it was his way of puting himself to sleep. I found this sight mainly because I wanted to know if he will ever grow out of it because I can't imangine him doing this next to his wife one day. Lol. These articles say he will grow out of it around 3 years old but I don't know. If he is not in his bed, like if we are riding in the car or something he will bang his head against his carseat or bang his leg. My best friends dad is 40 and still bangs his head to go to sleep. I h ope my son grows out of it.

birdy22 said...

Im a 16 year old female and i still bang my head and hum to fall asleep. My parents told me I have been doing it since I was a few months old. When I was maybe around 4 or 5, my mom took me to the doctors to see if she could get some answers as to why I do it. The doctor simply stated that it was a comfort thing and I would grow out of it...Though I dont do it as often as I did when I was little, I still catch myslef doing it to help fall asleep faster and I also wake up in the middle of the night from "bouncing" (as my parents would call it)and the sounds of myslef humming; or sometimes I move my foot or leg...but I think thats because I have restless legs because of sports.hmm.i dont really know. But if I catch myself in the middle of the night, I stop and lay down and fall asleep for the rest of the night normally and silently. I do remember when I was little I would stop when I heard my parents' voices coming in to my room to stop me and/or when they would pat me on my back. Now, I think they've gotten so use to it they dont hear it anymore when I do it or im just more quiet about it..not sure lol. But for the parents who are worried about their kids not outgrowing it by the age of 3 or whatever, dont worry too much about...or just dont worry at all. If they out grow it- they out grow it..if not- then maybe someday. They cant help that they do it, and if they are really young talk to them about it because I was embarresed about it when I was little. I would be nervous to stay at my friends' houses; but I would warn them before we would sleep and they understood which was a relief. But I had come to find that if I stay over somewhere or my friends stay at my house - i dont do it at all. But remember not to pressure your child about stopping; it caused stress on me because I didnt know how to stop. My family had to learn not to do it with me because Im the first in the family to do it that anyone knows of. My entire family knows I do it and its a big joke which everyone teases me about. But I dont mind, its funny to hear the storries of how people first reacted when they saw me do it when I was little and the things I would do or say while doing it. Im really glad I found this article because before today Ive never really thought of looking this up...I kinda thought I was alone.lol. But though I've been doing this all my life, Im still a normal healthy teenager. I do hope that one day I do grow out of it completely, but im not too worried about it because there is bigger things to worry about. I hope my comment was helpful to the worried parents; it will be okay.promise. :)

unknown said...

ALEXIS SAYS:
well i am 12 almost 13 years old. and i bang my head in the car. not as often anymore. but every now and then. I dont bang my head to go to sleep. i bang my head when im sitting on the sofa. Is this bad? should i ask my parents to take me to a doctor? i have been looking up websites to find some information on head banging. but its all just about head banging for babies and to go to sleep.. im glade that im not the only one that bangs there head in the car sometimes. PLEASE give me some information. Am i autistic? Should i be worried? I bang my head when ever im mad, happy, or listen to music that makes me rock. and my parents yell at me cuz when i bang my head on the sofa. the neighbors can hear and it leaves a mark on the wall from the sofa rubbing against the wall. :D PLEASE HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

unknown said...

i am rocking in the computer chair as we speak. so.... ya...

dad said...

SOLUTION: My daughter bangs her head since she was born. she's now 15 and still doing it in the car and when trying to go to sleep or when sitting bored and there is nothing to do. I was observing her for sometime and noticed that she never does it when she's focused on something. so for my daughter, she's fine when she falls asleep while watching TV in a dark room ( focused on something). Same thing in the car ( watch DVD in the back). hope this helps, and if you discover other ways of keeping the person focused before falling asleep or when they're bored then please share..

Darrell said...

To the concerned parents,

I'm 33 and was a head banger until I was in my teens. I used to hum and sing while doing it. My parents like to tell this story about leaving me at daycare and doing it when I was a year or so old. Someone called my dad at work and asked if I had a mental disorder. He said "No, he just does that when he goes to sleep." I vividly remember doing it while singing the twelve days of Christmas on repeat around 7 or 8 years old. My parents never really seemed bothered by it. Or they didn't let on to me that they were anyway.

It was sort of a conscious effort to stop over time. Mostly when I would spend the night at a friends house I would make myself go to sleep without doing it. Once or twice I would wake myself up doing subconsciously. Eventually I just stopped altogether. I remember my grandmother talking about a coworker she once had that said her child did it too so I've always kind of assumed it was a fairly common thing.

I had not really given it much thought until recently I had my first child and I started wondering if maybe he would do it too. (Not that he is showing any signs yet, in fact he is a very good sleeper and has been good about self soothing since just a few weeks old.) It's nice to read this and get a little understanding for a symptom I experienced. It makes so much sense now too. Like others I like to rock, twist, or tap my foot while sitting in a chair as well.

Awakened Mama said...

Wow ...I agree with another poster. Reading all of these posts do not make me feel better. I have 4 boys and my 15 and 12 year old never had issues like this. My 6 year old has been doing it his whole life and has been diagnosed with sensory integration disorder. Then my 3 year old came along and listened to his brother rock and hum himself to sleep, or back and forth in the car seat, and banging the sofa so hard we had to make him move to the loveseat, and now he does it. He's louder than the 6 year old.

I try to be understanding and patient but it keeps the house up and I can't even go to sleep. We have tried everything. I will tell him over and over to stop b/c he keeps the 6 year old awake, who has to get up for kindergarten. I just lose my patience sometimes and yell at him to stop. It's so frustrating for everyone. We can't have one night's worth of peace. Anyone sitting and saying their parents just had this "that's nice honey...keep rocking and banging your head" attitude...I'd like to know how they did that. We are really at our wits end. Another night with no sleep here. Not sure how everyone stays so positive about it.

I wonder how his future relationships will be or it he will ever come out of it. The 6 year old's rocking too. I have not told his pediatrician yet but I plan too. I thought he would come out of it by now. He will be 4 years old in January.

Unknown said...

my son is now 10 years old & a big lad for his age with special needs & is overweight so when he rocks we hear about it. His bedroom is right next to ours & often wakes us up. We are also at our wits end as like this article states it can last up to 15mins. It drives me and his dad mad & makes my heart race & body tense up. He body rolls with his elbows out to the side with his hands pressed tightly agaisnt his ears.

I appreciate the fact that this article is outlining the point that its more common then we think, but is there anything WE can do to STOP IT!!!.

Gold said...

I'm 39 yo Female with this disorder -though I didn't know it was one until now. I just looked this up because I was having a conversation with my husband about his snoring when he brought up "my stupid leg banging". He tells me that he just hooks my foot with his and pulls my leg straight to stop it. He says that works. So, with that conversation I googled it and ended up reading through these posts. So, my story... I've always done it. When I was an infant, I used to rock on all fours. I do it in my sleep then and now. I am not aware of doing it for the most part unless it has caused me to wake up. However it mostly doesn't. I don't know if this is related, but when I was a child I used to sit cross-legged on the couch and rock into the back of the couch when I watched TV. (I didn't have ADHD or any learning disabilities. I am now a Ph.D.). My brother used to bang his head on his pillow -so perhaps there is a genetic/familial component. I know he did this into his teen years -but I haven't asked him if he banged his head lately, lol. I have 2 other siblings that do not have RMD. My parents never made any note of it other than the family would joke occasionally about it when we had to share quarters, i.e., camping, hotels. It was just me. No one was upset -hence I didn't realize it was a disorder. So, I suppose that if households aren't getting sleep because of their child's RMD, address the physical elements that are keeping you up (just a thought). If the bed makes noise, put the mattress on the floor. Put extra padding in the bed to buffer the noise, etc. The condition itself doesn't seem to harm the child and they can't just stop it -so noise barriers for everyone else seems like the only option. (Sound buffer his/her bedroom). I suppose if that's not physically possible, ear plugs may help. Sorry. I apparently had it easy.

Gold said...

Just a follow up to my above post for clarification. I rocked on all fours as an infant. That changed as I got older to rocking my leg back and forth with my knee bent while I slept/sleep. (I switch legs too). I only do this when I sleep. From my post above it seemed as though I was still rocking on my hands and knees! Good luck all. I hope you find resolve.

Marla said...

Hi. I am certain I have the answer for some of you. I am your children....grown. I began rocking as an infant on knees to forearms, head into the pillow. Not sure at what age, but as a young child I switched to body rocking back and forth....while humming. Hummed "the Little Drummer Boy" for over 16 years (my mother has PTSD when hearing that song now, sorry mom). I bounced (bounce) my leg when seated, chew gum, chatter non-stop, and occasionally-rarely-still catch myself rocking back and forth when seated and alone, bored at home. I am 44, and was diagnosed with ADHD at 32.
My rocking, humming and general inability to be still, is due to the almost 'torture' I feel when faced with having to fall asleep.....with a racing mind....and restless body.
Think about it-in order to not have thought after interrupting thought preventing you from sleep, you hopefully reach a coping mechanism to prevent the thoughts to allow sleep. Rocking rhythmically, and humming in my case, satisfies the physical restlessness-without thought. And humming disengaged my brain from actively processing every thought, sound I hear, or physical sensation (position of the blanket, pillow, light, feeling an itch, hair move, temperature in the room).
I am NOT saying your children have ADHD. I am saying, however, that if these behaviors persist past the usual age they disappear......it is worth thinking about.

none said...

Does anyone have a solution to this at all? We haven't slept for a year and a half because our son wakes up 4-5 times a night banging his head against the crib, it is so loud. I have tried leaving him alone, but he will do it for over an hour, and have bruises all over his forehead. Now we are doing the opposite, by going in there right away everytime he starts banging his head. That causes us to have no sleep at all. The only thing I can think of is as a last resort is to pad the heck out of the entire crib and just deal with the noise. We need a solution, it is so hard to function without any sleep ever.

Ro21and said...

Shock i do this too and ive been doing it from as long as i can remember its use to make my fam mad that i did it but now they dont care im 15 first it started with rocking my leg slowly back and forth then head rolling now the body movement and rapid leg shaking when i would stop i can feel the urge in my body to rock it my mom said i was hyper active which i believed because i always moved around but im glad i found this

ChangingMyLife2012 said...

I banged my head into my pillow to fall asleep every night until I was about 10. Then I did it less and less through my teens. By the time I went to college, I didn't do it anymore. However, I am 37 now, and still feel the urge to do it when I can't go to sleep. Unless your child is hurting himself, or shows other behavioral problems, do not worry. I am completely "normal." In fact, I had above average intelligence and social skills as a child. In fact, sometimes I wonder if that is why I needed to bang my head - to wind down my thoughts. I can tell parents that you should not make a big deal about this. Your child will still do it, but will feel shame if you are critical. My parents just ignored it. I knew it was not normal behavior on my own, and appreciated that they did not add to things by makIng me embarrassed.

hbill said...

I am wondering if we should begin to search for the cause. If all of us can post their thoughts, I am certain we will find a pattern. For example, our son a little premature and was vacuum extracted at birth. He also never crawled and took a while to walk.
We can rule out vaccinations because he had none.

billjones721 said...

Haha *I* did this until I was nearly 18, embarassingly enough. It started when I was really young, my parents tell me it used to freak out baby sitters when I was younger. While I can't say I'm 100% normal (that's a joke) I did graduate honors at a major university and sit at the top of my medical school class, so at least I didn't get any brain damage.

billjones721 said...

When I did it it as indeed very relaxing. Its hard to explain now but it helped me to feel sleepy. It is a bit paradoxical, you would think that al that movement would preclude you from falling asleep, but for most my life it helped me fall asleep. While I still have trouble falling asleep (so I don't doubt there may be something there about him not sleeping well), I turned out normal and successful, so there is nothing wrong with your children. The body is a fantastically quirky thing. I would also stop if other people were in the room etc. as I got older and realized it was a strange habit. I finally had to break the habit when I got a roomate at 18, it was a tough habit to break, but it went away just fine.

billjones721 said...

Haha I think that's just because people know to lie about it beyond age 5. I don't think I've told many people. Like above, I just googled this because I was bored and curious. There aren't many studies on this, its true. But that's the case for a lot of things in medicine. I wouldn't recommend pharmacotherapy in a young child, like the author did above- but that's a personal opinion. I do still have difficulty sleeping as an adult.

ashleighwoods said...

i have 'head banged' for as long as i can remember, i have no problems with learning, or communication so its not autism, i do it in a rhythmic movement and hum, also if im listening to music in my bed i have to head bang, i do it for hours until i get tired and fall asleep and i have been told i do it while i am asleep, i am really worried as alot of reports say it stops at a young age, and i am nearly 14, is there anyway to stop as it is a really embarrassing thing to be doing at my age, please get back to me.

Unknown said...

I am now 55 and stopped rocking when I was 18/19 or so because I began living with my boyfriend and would have been mortified if he had seen me rocking. I was told I began rocking on all fours as a baby - damaged the wall. I progressed to sideways rocking (don't know why). I remember the rocking was very soothing and helped me get to sleep, and if I woke up I would rock myself back to sleep again. I would get yelled at to stop, dumped out of bed, but never was there a trip to the doctor to try and figure it out. Basically, I just learned to think there was something wrong with me. When young, I often shared a bed with my sister and my rocking was very bothersome to her, so I evolved to foot banging when I couldn't rock. When I got a little older and discovered music, I would sit on the sofa and bang myself back and forth to the rythme. I have an idea of why I may have started in the first place. My father had a violent temper and there would have been "fights" going on at night or loud arguing. When one rocks, the sounds are muffled by the motion and for me it put me into a trance like state. Once the young child I was discovered that this technique worked to quiet the environment around me and help me relax then it became a coping mechanism and later a habit. I also remember my mother working nights and so I was left to look after my brothers and sisters - I was 11 years old and with a very active imagination. We lived in an old house in the city with doors that didn't really lock - we'd stick butter knives in the door jams. Anyway old houses creak at night and I would not hear the noises as much if I rocked myself to sleep. I have not rocked in years, no one else in my family was a rocker, foot banger or a head/body banger. I have 2 older children and neither of them rocked or wet their beds. So for me I think it all began as a coping mechanism against unwanted sounds. I am very happy I don't "need" to do this any more. I've tried just to see what it feels like now, but don't get anything out of it anymore. Anyone else share this story?

Unknown said...

I'm a 57 year old male who has bounced his head and legs at night since early childhood. I've always wanted to control it, but I can't seem to. Even when I consciously try, I'm told I still do it when I doze off. Other than a few embarrassing incidents with it, and the fact that my wife gets annoyed with it, it's just something I've lived with. Its the subject of family stories as well. Rhythmic movement syndrome.....now I have a name for it.

Brendan E said...

I am 12 years old, almost thirteen and have been doing this since, well, I can't remember, but my parents talk about me doing it since a baby and they thought I was posessed or something.I lay on my side in a way kind of as if someone turned a chair on its side and I was sitting in it. I ball up a blanket or pillow and put it between my knees with my hands around it (if I don't do this I can't roll my head, not sure why). Then I just roll my head back and forth untill I eventually get tired, stop, and doze off. I do it every night before I go to sleep for about 30 min.-1 hour. I use this rolling to give me time to just think and think about the past, present, hopes and imaginations for the near future. I don't know why I do, it just happens. Also in the car I will bang my head against the back of my seat to the beat of the music. Sometimes when there isn't music playing I will "bounce", as my parents call it, to whatever song is in my head. I don't "Bounce very much anymore, now that I think about it, Nobody but my family knows about it and nobody knows why I do it.

bbygurl15948 said...

Im 16 and i dig the back of my head during my sleep and i wake up with blood on my pillow and scabs forming. Should i be alarmed?

lala said...

I can't believe I'm not the only one. I'm 18 and I still do this but I'm trying to break the habit. Its really soothing and makes me fall asleep but it freaks everybody out.

Jim Figart said...

When I was young, and I don't really remeber when it all started, I head-banged while I was very much asleep. I did this until I was in my early 20's and even did it in basic training to my other roommates dismay. I am now 56 and I have not head-banged in a long time and, quite frankly, I never remembered the act and sleept very good all the time but I was told that I either got up n my hands and knees and banged my head against the pillow or I would lay on my stomach and do it. My Dad would be awakened in the wee hours of the night and come in and yell at me to stop it. He thought I did it on purpose to get attention but this was not the case. I was totally asleep. Even when I got first married, I did the head banging ritual to my new wife's dismay. But, eventually, I grew out of it and had a normal life in the USAF and so much more. Personally, if the child is asleep and not hurting himself, then let him be. Yelling at him only startles him and both parent and child lose sleep. I guess I am just lucky Dad did not get the belt out and wack me on the ass for waking him up squeaking the bed!

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