I know I shouldn't worry but I do.
My three year old (four in February) has always been a terrible sleeper. As in, would never sleep on his own from the moment he came home from the hospital. I had to carry him forever.
He is now very verbal and is still a horrible sleeper. He wakes up a couple times a night. He still sleeps with us b/c it is the only way I can get any rest.
Lately, I have realized that what seems to be waking him up are his dreams. He talks in his sleep and seems to be talking about his dreams. About a quarter of the time they seems to be nightmares. Not horrible, just waking up crying.
The reason I am worried about this (in addition to the still not sleeping part...which is no small issue...yawn!) is that we have a family history. My other son has Autism and my sister has Schizophrenia.
Could this be an early warning sign? I know I should worry but I do and I am.
Any suggestions on how to get him to sleep better through these?
OK, I'm not a doctor. But I have two Autistic kids and other friends, with Autistic kids. And I have never heard of excessive dreaming or talking in your sleep as a symptom. If he's almost 4 and you're not worried about his language development, or him avoiding eye contact, or being obsessive, then I wouldn't be worried about Autism.
I can't point you to the research, but I'm fairly certain that kids that young spend more time in R.E.M. sleep than adults do; that it's more common for kids (than for adults) to have immature/improper motor inhibition during R.E.M. sleep (i.e., talking or walking in your sleep); and that it's pretty common for kids - who are dreaming a lot anyway - to have a lot of nightmares, because there are so many things in life that they don't understand, can't control, or that scare them. And some babies are just bad sleepers. I was. My husband was. Neither of us is mentally ill.
I don't know about connections between schizophrenia and dreaming, but I certainly wouldn't worry about that, based ONLY on what you've described.