Why do babies laugh in their sleep? Is this normal?

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Learn more about how the baby sleep cycle works and why your baby laughs in his or her sleep.

Have you ever heard your little one sweetly giggling in their sleep? Then you rush over and check if they’re awake and finding some cute way to amuse themselves. But often times it’s your baby laughing while asleep! But why do babies laugh in their sleep? Does it have anything to do with the baby sleep cycle? Or could they be dreaming of beautiful things? 

Let’s find out. 

Baby Sleep Cycle: Why Do Babies Laugh in Their Sleep?

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Well, firstly, did you know that as adults, we too laugh in our sleep? Perhaps you would have, in your half-asleep stupor, heard your spouse chuckling in their sleep. 

There is no clear-cut reason why babies laugh in their sleep. But there are a few theories as to why your little one is enjoying a giggle or two while sleeping. 

1. It is a natural reflex

Babies do dream and they start as early as in the womb. They continue dreaming as newborns. But they are not necessarily laughing because of a dream. Sometimes, laughing is just a natural reflex during their REM cycle in a period called active sleep.

During this type of sleep, babies might make involuntary movements. Some of these involuntary movements can lead to smiles and laughter while they sleep.

Tip: It is possible, though very rare, that gelastic seizures can occur in infants that cause uncontrollable laughter. Each episode can last around 10 to 20 seconds, from about 10 months old. 

If this happens regularly and wakes your baby up, accompanied by a vacant stare, please talk to your paediatrician.

2. They are processing information

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Throughout the day, especially in the first few months of life, babies are experiencing a steep learning curve. From learning to open their eyes, to smiling, crying, and figuring out how their bodies work, they are always processing new information.

Add the bright lights and sounds and different sights they are exposed to, and they might be going through sensory overload. But when it is finally time for them to go to sleep, their little brains have the time to process this information. 

One way of doing so is by laughing or crying in their sleep. During these essential few months of development, they are also learning a lot about emotions, which is then translated into either laughter or cries.

Tip: Try not to wake them up when they are laughing in their sleep as it might interrupt their sleep cycle.

Understand the Baby Sleep Cycle Better

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Babies have a much shorter sleep cycle compared to adults. In case you’ve forgotten your sleep cycle, this is how adults sleep.

Our sleep cycles lasts about 90 minutes each, during which we move through five stages of sleep. The first four stages are non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, while the fifth stage is rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.

For babies, the baby sleep cycle only last 30-50 minutes. This gradually increase in length across childhood.

Tip: Every child is different. So do remember this: some babies and children fall deeply asleep very quickly, others sleep lightly, and could be in a light sleep cycle for up to 20 minutes, before getting into deep sleep.

 

Sources: WebMD, ResearchGate

Do you think you understand the baby sleep cycle better now? If you want to help your baby sleep better, try these interesting baby sleeping tricks like building them a little nest. Meanwhile, don’t forget to snap those adorable pictures of your little ones smiling in their sleep!