My Child is Sleep Talking: What Should I Do?

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Does your child talk in his sleep? Is it a constant babble that distracts him from a good night’s rest, or an animated chatter that breaks into a violent outburst every now and then? When your child is not having the quality sleep you think he should be receiving, what should you do?

What is sleep talking?

Sleep talking, also known as somniloquy, occurs in children when they talk, laugh or even cry in their sleep. With as many as 50% of children displaying such behaviour between the ages from 3 to 10, this behaviour is not as uncommon as most of us would think, and is more pronounced among children than adults.

In most instances, the child is unaware of his sleep habits and will have no recollection of his chatters the night before. Classified more broadly as parasomnias, sleep talking is a type of involuntary sleep habit alongside teeth grinding and sleepwalking. While it is often hereditary, sleep talking is also believed by sleep therapists to be triggered by anxiety, fatigue or overexcitement.

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Tips to help your child get a better sleep

It can be unsettling to watch your child sleep talk in the night, several nights in a month, or even week. But instead of trying to intervene, it is best to gently guide your child back to sleep, without waking him up during the process. Depending on how old your child is, you might also not want to discuss his sleep talking habits with him ? in case this adds to his anxiety and aggravates the situation.

Even though you can feel helpless ? since there are no known treatments to keep sleep talking completely at bay ? there are tips you can follow to help your child achieve a better night?s rest, and in doing so, talk less frequently in his sleep:

1.Adopt a regular sleep routine
Ensure that your child has predictable sleeping and waking times. Strive to give your child about 10 to 12 hours of sleep each night, as sleep deprivation can cause sleep talking.

2. Avoid stimulants before bedtime
This means avoiding screen time altogether, as watching electronic devices before sleep can disrupt one?s sleep patterns in the night.

3. Refrain from having heavy bedtime snacks
If possible, let your child have dinner a couple of hours from bedtime.

4. Keep the bedroom conducive for sleep
Keep the room dim, well-ventilated and at a comfortable temperature to create a restful atmosphere through the night.

Should you seek medical advice?

For most children, sleep talking go away when they reach early adolescence. Unlike sleepwalking, where a child could wander unknowingly and injure himself or others, sleep talking is mostly harmless and does not require any medical treatment. In fact, sleep talking usually poses a greater problem to those sleeping in the same room as the child.

Having said that, it is advisable for you to consult a pediatrician or a sleep specialist if you feel that your child is sleep deprived as a result of his sleep talking episodes. A medical consultation is also recommended if your child has night terrors, or develops sleep talking after a traumatic encounter. Before consulting a pediatrician or sleep specialists, keep a sleep diary to record your child?s sleep patterns to get the most out of your sessions.

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