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Children's Health

Talking and movement in sleep.

03/27/2009

Question:

My brother has been talking,and moving while he has been sleeping,he would say complete sentences,make noises which sound like crying, and lift his arms and legs up into the air while he is dead asleep. He wakes up and has some memory of the dream and is able to go back to sleep after he awakens but he feels shaky after he awakens. Is there any way to stop this?

Answer:

Some talking and movements in children while asleep are common.

You did not tell us how old your brother is.

Talking during sleep (somniloquy) is very common from about 3-9 yrs of age.

The talking and movements frequently occurs within the first 2 hours of falling asleep during what is called slow wave sleep. There may be multiple episodes of talking and moving during sleep, but generally stops around 3 o'clock in the morning.

Key questions would be:

1. Do you have a family history of other people talking or moving during sleep since these behaviors (called parasomnias) often occurs in families?

2. Does your brother have any daytime fatigue or sleepiness?

3. Does he have any snoring during the night? Does he complain of painful legs or is he kicking his feet a lot during sleep?

Attempts at stopping sleepwalking and sleep talking are generally necessary very often. One reason might be if your brother were in danger of harming himself such as walking out of your house. Generally, all we suggest is making the bedroom safe to keep him from hurting himself and don't try to waken him during an episode because it may make it worse. Interestingly sleepwalking and talking frequently occur when a person is over tired from a lot of exercise or after intense physical activity.

It might be good to talk to your brother's doctor about these episodes especially if he is older than 12 yrs or if the answers to Q 2 or 3 above were "Yes".

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Response by:

Mark   Splaingard, MD Mark Splaingard, MD
Clinical Professor of Pediatrics
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University