Everybody’s talking… in their sleep

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It’s dark and late. You’re curled into your five layers of blankets and duvet to ward off the winter cold and just starting to fall asleep.

Suddenly, in the midst of the eerie night-time silence, a little voice says, clear as a bell says…”mommy, yuck!” You shoot out of your warm cove and run towards your child’s bedroom, convinced they’ve woken up ill, vomited and your notion of a nice night’s sleep has just shot into the ether.

But, no – your progeny isn’t awake, or ill, or doing anything but snoozing. Your child is sleep talking.

Sleep talking, or somniloquy, is quite common, especially in children under the age of 10. The habit usually ends by adolescence, although some adults are reported to do it too. I’m one of them. Whether it’s a little incoherent mumble or an eloquently shouted yelp, somniloquy is usually nothing to worry about.

Sleep talking can happen during any stage of the sleep cycle, and is mostly harmless. Severe cases are often caused by another sleep disorder or mental distress, so if you’re not aware of any underlying issues, don’t be too concerned.

When we were children – according to my mother – my siblings and I would converse in our sleep, throwing words out across our passageway to each other. Whether we were actually talking to each other in our sleep, or just randomly bursting out words on occasion, we’ll never know. It ceased to happen once we were all past the age of 10.

I have noticed a pattern though, with my kid. At times of great excitement, like birthdays and Christmas, she’s more likely to talk in her sleep. Just the other night (at time of writing, we are in birthday season), she loudly and excitedly said, in her sleep: “the zebras don’t have the right stripes!” What that has to do with anything is beyond me, but clearly is made sense to her sleeping self.

I’ve opted to see the funny side of this situation, as it’s rare, although it’s scary at 10pm when the house is dark and quiet. I believe this is a little golden key into my child’s dreams, and if I can hear just a sentence, then I can pick up on what she dreamt about or mentally processed while she was sleeping.
As parents, we worry ourselves into a corner over so many things – so I’ll lay down some golden rules for you about sleep talking:

If it happens once a month, you have nothing to worry about.

If it happens once a week, you have nothing to worry about.

If it happens every night, or several times per night, it’s time to consider making an appointment with your GP or trusted Paediatrician.

Does your child talk in his sleep? Did you have to seek medical intervention?

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