Springdale Mason Pediatrics

Sleep Talking

Definition

  • Sleep talking is a partial wake-up in which children talk in their sleep
  • They act confused and can't be fully awakened, but are usually calm
  • Occur in 10 to 30% of normal children. Sleep talking is so common and harmless looking that most parents don't ask about it.
  • Peak age is 2 to 12 years
  • Cause: Sleep talking runs in families
  • Triggers: Occur more frequently if the child has a sleep debt
  • Also called somniloquy

Call or Return If

  • Your child has frequent snoring
  • You have other questions or concerns

About This Topic

Symptoms

  • While sleep talking, the ability to understand the child's speech varies.
  • Some talk clearly, but the words don't make sense. Others make speech sounds that are mumbled. Rarely does the child say something that has a clear meaning.
  • Sleep speech also sounds different than normal wakeful speech. Most sleep talkers talk without any emotion. The child is usually not agitated.
  • Sleep talk goes on for 1 to 5 minutes. It then stops of its own accord with the child falling back into deep sleep.
  • They don't realize you are there, even though their eyes are wide open and staring.
  • Episodes usually start 1 to 3 hours after falling asleep.
  • In the morning, your child can't remember what happened.
  • Sleep talking can also occur during naps.

After Care Advice

Don't Worry About the Sleep Talking:
  • Sleep talking is normal in many children. It runs in families.
  • Your child will usually only talk for 1 to 5 minutes.
  • It usually doesn't mean anything important is happening.
Don't Try to Wake Up Your Child:
  • Sleep talkers cannot easily be fully awakened, no matter what you do
  • There is no way to stop the sleep talking episode.
  • Shaking or shouting at your child will just cause your child to become upset.
Prepare Babysitters for Possible Sleep Talking:
  • Explain to people who care for your child that sleep talking is normal for him or her.
  • Important for sleepovers. Reason: Sleep talking is more common in a strange environment.
  • Understanding this will prevent them from over-reacting.
Help Roommates Deal with the Sleep Talking:
  • If sleep talking is disruptive to others, earplugs may help.
What to Expect:
  • Children will usually do less sleep talking when they reach adolescence.
  • But if adults in your family talk in their sleep, your child will probably do the same.

Author: Barton Schmitt MD, FAAP
Copyright 2000-2020 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC
Disclaimer: This health information is for educational purposes only. You the reader assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.
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