30 Nov 2018

What is sleep talking?

Learn more about the nocturnal night chatter

Do you have the gift of speech… while sleeping during the night?


Does your partner babble on while asleep or your children yell out after bedtime, yet when you ask them about it, they can’t remember a thing?

Talking in your sleep can be a very strange experience, so here’s some more information about what causes it, what impacts it can have, and how it can be treated.


What is sleep talking?

Formally referred to as somniloquy, sleep talking is actually classed as a mild sleep disorder, although it’s generally fairly harmless [1]. It's a type of ‘parasomnia’, which refers to an abnormal behaviour that takes place during sleep.

It can range from full sentences to gibberish, and even sound different in tone and language to how a person normally speaks while awake.

When a sleep talker is in a lighter sleep, then their speech is easier to comprehend and can even make some sort of sense, however in deeper stages of sleep, it tends to be more like a moaning sound.

Sleep talk usually doesn’t last very long per episode, but it may happen a few times in the same night. It just depends on the individual.

What causes sleep talking?

Anyone can occasionally sleep talk, however it can often be considered more common in children and men, and has also been linked to genetics too [2].

Sleep talking can also be triggered by temporary conditions, such as [3]:

  • Illness and fevers
  • Some medications
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol
  • Stress that causes the mind to be overly active before bed
  • Mental health conditions, such as depression
  • Sleep deprivation

People with other sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, can also have a greater tendency to sleep talk(1).

partner-sleep-talking

How do you measure the severity of sleep talking?

Sleep talking can occur during any stage of sleep, and it’s determined by the frequency in which it happens.

A mild case means that the person talks during their sleep less than once a month.

A moderate case is where a person sleep talks around once a week, however it doesn’t interfere with their sleep or that of the people around them.

A severe case, however, can be disturbing to their own sleep as well as others, such as a partner or roommate.  

Understanding Your Sleep - ResSleep

How do you treat sleep talking?

While you generally can’t treat sleep talking directly, there are ways to reduce its occurance. These include:

  • Getting sufficient quality sleep
  • Practising proper sleep hygiene [4]
  • Avoiding excessive alcohol and heavy meals before sleep
  • Calming activities before bed to destress and relax

If you are a partner or room mate, perhaps consider using earplugs or introduce other white noise sounds like air conditioning or quiet music to block out the noise.

Is sleep talking something to worry about?

Generally, sleep talking is considered harmless, especially in the mild and moderate cases where there are no lasting effects on both their sleep and others. In this scenario, there is no need for treatment.

However, in more serious cases, it can interfere with the quality of sleep by disrupting regular sleep cycles, which may lead to feeling tired during the following day.

It can also be a symptom of a more serious sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea.

If this is the case, then it’s worth taking a sleep test or speaking to a medical professional who can provide further guidance on how to stop sleep talking.

Do you have trouble sleeping?

Maintaining quality sleep every night is very important for your overall health and well-being.

If you are experiencing problems sleeping and you are searching for a cure, you can complete our free sleep assessment to better understand how to correct your restful state, wake up fresh and improve your overall health.

The assessment asks you a series of simple questions designed to help you uncover the cause, and the results will be conveniently sent to you via an email.

You can access the Sleep Assessment here.

Take ResSleep's FREE sleep assessmentGet a better understanding of your sleep issues with a free sleep assessment.


References:

  1. Healthline. Everything You Should Know About Sleep Talking. https://www.healthline.com/health/sleep-talking.
  2. Sehgal, A., & Mignot, E. (2011, July 22). Genetics of sleep and sleep disorders. Cell, 146(2), 194-207. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3153991/
  3. WebMD. Talking in Your Sleep. https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/talking-in-your-sleep#2  
  4. ResSleep. Are you practising good sleep hygiene. https://www.ressleep.com.au/articles/good-sleep-hygiene