Sleep Talking

Medically known as somniloquy, sleep talking is a type of parasomnia or abnormal behavior that occurs when you sleep. Somniloquy can occur alone or in conjunction with another sleep disorder.

Typically, talking in your sleep is harmless and even funny at times. Yet, it also can be vulgar, offensive, or violent. he talking can last for up to 30 seconds at a time, occur several times throughout the night, and be anything from a whisper to a shout.

Who Talks in Their Sleep? 

Sleep talking is a common problem that affects 50% of children between ages 3 and 10 and about 5% of adults. It occurs at the same rate in both men and women, and experts believe that it is hereditary.

What Causes Somniloquy? 

Somniloquy can occur at any stage of sleep, so it’s not necessarily linked to dreaming. Potential causes of somniloquy include:

  • Emotional stress
  • Taking certain medications
  • Mental disorders
  • Fever
  • Substance abuse

When it occurs by itself, somniloquy it is often harmless, but it could also signal a bigger problem. Talking in your sleep is sometimes a symptom of another sleep disorder, such as sleep terrors, sleepwalking, REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD), or sleep related eating disorder (SRED).

RBD and sleep terrors cause people to shout during their sleep. People who have RBD often act out their dreams violently, while sleep terrors involve screaming, kicking, and thrashing.

Treatments for Somniloquy

Somniloquy is usually not severe enough to require treatment, but you may opt to see a sleep specialist if it is interfering with your rest or the sleep of your partner or roommate.

To identify sleep patterns and help determine underlying problems, your doctor may request that you keep a sleep diary for two or three weeks. In a sleep diary, you are required to take note of what time you go to bed, what time you think you fall asleep, and what time you wake up.

Other lifestyle factors are sometimes included in the diary such as when you consume caffeinated drinks, what medications you take and when, and your exercise schedule.

If there are signs of another sleep disorder, such as screaming, fear, or violent behavior during sleep, your doctor may also order a sleep study to help identify a diagnosis and determine a treatment plan.

In rare cases, a doctor may prescribe medication to treat somniloquy. If somniloquy develops as a side effect of taking a certain medication, a change in medication may be necessary.

Sources: National Sleep Foundation, American Academy of Sleep Medicine, and Stanford University.

More on Sleep Talking
Sleep Disorder Resources
Sleep Deprivation Effects
Healthy Sleep Habits

› Sleep Talking

Share Sleep Tips

Do you have a great tip to share with others who are struggling with sleep? What works for you might help someone else. 
Click here to post >>

Mobility and Disability Resources