Sleep Talking

Last updated: December 2021
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What is sleep talking or somniloquy?

It is a sleep disorder which is defined as ‘talking in your sleep’ without being aware. It can sometimes be odd words, a garbled sentence or even a monologue. It comes under the groups Parasomnia as it is an abnormal behaviour that takes place during sleep. It’s not something to worry about – nor should you be concerned over what you say!

Causes of talking in your sleep

Anyone can sleep talk though it tends to occur more in men and in children, and it can be genetic. Most children grow out of the habit and there’s only around five percent of adults who talk in their sleep.

Factors include:

  • Sleep deprivation
  • Stress
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Alcohol and drugs
  • Fever

It occurs during deep sleep or when passing between one sleep stage and another. It is harmless – however, REM Sleep Disorder and night terrors are two sleep disorders where people can shout out during sleep so if you feel the sleep talking is accompanied by other things such as kicking and thrashing then it’s important to seek further medical advice.

Treatment of somniloquy

Sleep talking generally does not require treatment but if it’s particularly bothersome for your bed partner you may want to see your GP. If you suddenly develop sleep talking as an adult or there is intense fear, screaming or kicking you should request further help which may involve a sleep study or a polysomnogram.

There are some lifestyle changes you can make to try help. These include:

  • Getting plenty of sleep by making sure you go to bed at a reasonable hour. Also stick to regular bedtimes and wake times to help consistency.
  • Avoiding stress by practising relaxation techniques before bed
  • Steer clear of alcohol and drugs which interfere with sleep and your health
  • Keeping a sleep diary so you record your sleep patterns and to help see if there are any underlying issues. It can also help you track your mood, caffeine intake etc.